Celebrities | Celebrities http://www.dogster.com/celebrities Celebrities en-us Mon, 16 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 Mon, 16 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss Orion <![CDATA["Lucky Dog" Star Brandon McMillan Also Trains Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/lucky-dog-trainer-brandon-mcmillan-veterans-service-dogs Animal trainer Brandon McMillan is well known for his work on the CBS show Lucky Dog, but it’s his off-camera work as one of the founders of Argus Service Dog Foundation that has earned this TV personality the title of Dogster Hero.
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“These veterans had a part of their life taken from them, and I’m giving it back to them. I’m giving them independence,” says McMillan, who trained dogs for film and television for 15 years before one phone call convinced him to put his skills to a different use.

“A few years back, a buddy of mine called me up, and he asked, ‘Could you train a service dog for a disabled veteran who stepped on an IED in Afghanistan?’ The veteran had lost both legs, and he was learning to walk again on prosthetics,” explains McMillian, who contacted the young veteran named Tyler to assess what a service dog could do for him.

“I talked to him for a while, and I said, ‘Tell me about that day in Afghanistan,’ so he did. He told me the whole story.”

McMillan never asked Tyler what he would need a dog to assist him with. Instead, he asked the young man what his life was like before he was hurt, and what challenges he was facing now that his body had been changed so drastically.

According to McMillan, the former soldier explained that he’d been an avid athlete all his life. He said that curbs and steps were now frustratingly challenging. The loss of independence was difficult for him to accept.

“After that conversation, I knew everything that I could train a dog to do for him. He didn’t even know the possibilities, but I did,” McMillan recalls.

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Brandon trained Apollo to help Tyler tackle curbs. (All photos courtesy Brandon McMillan)

To help the veteran tackle curbs and steps, McMillan had one command in mind.

“I trained the dog to brace,” he explains.

“The brace command is when the dog stiffens up, and you can actually put pressure on the dog’s shoulders and the dog will support you up much like a cane.”

Walking up steps wasn’t the only mobility challenge the veteran faced. According to McMillan, Tyler sometimes used a wheelchair to get around, but found it difficult to get home as he lived on a hillside.

“I taught the dog to pull his wheelchair on command. The dog could also open doors if necessary and turn light switches on and off,” he says, adding that Tyler eventually decided to not have the dog turn the lights on as his helpful companion would inadvertently scratch the wall while flipping the switch.

The dog, a Doberman named Apollo, may not have had a delicate touch when it came to light switches, but he had a knack for a type of retrieving that McMillan says is one of the most technical and advanced commands humans can ever train in a dog.

“Teaching a dog to pick up keys, cell phones, and wallets -- that’s a whole new ballgame,” explains McMillan, who notes that this kind of skill is much more advanced than what most dog guardians think of as retrieval training.

“Toys and tennis balls are very fun for a dog to pick up, but keys are very awkward. It’s metal, the dog does not feel comfortable with it.”

When Apollo had mastered the delicate task of fetching keys from the ground, among many other advanced skills, McMillan headed to Washington, to bring the dog to Tyler at Walter Reed Medical Center.

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Brandon with Tyler and Apollo in Washington.

“I was expecting to basically deliver the dog and shake his hand, thank him for his service, and fly back to California,” McMillan remembers. “But when I got to D.C., I was swarmed by hundreds of veterans just like him. They saw what I did for this kid, and they all said, ‘I need a dog like that.’”

McMillan couldn’t stop thinking about those vets, and called up his friend Mike Herstik.

“He trains dogs for law enforcement and military. He’s a very, very good trainer. He’s actually a mentor of mine,” McMillan says. “I told him what I saw, and I broke down. I said we’ve got to do something about this.”

Together the two men began researching nonprofit service dog organizations, and found a void they knew they could fill.

“There are service dogs for the slightly disabled, and there are service dogs for PTSD, but there’s almost none -- we couldn’t actually find even one, to be honest -- that train dogs for the severely disabled like we do.”

The duo devoted themselves to the creation of the Argus Service Dog Foundation, which is as dedicated to helping dogs as it is to helping people. Many of the dogs who train to serve veterans are pulled from shelters -- just like the pets on Lucky Dog.

“We mainly rescue, and the ones who aren’t rescued are donated,” explains McMillan, who carefully profiles shelter dogs for physical, mental, and psychological suitability before bringing them into the program.

McMillan says that, historically, service dogs have been bred for the job, and using rescue dogs instead can be a bit more challenging. While Argus doesn’t buy purpose-bred dogs, the organization will gladly accept donated dogs from breeders.

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Brandon is committed to finding the right dogs for vets in need.

Whether the dog is donated or rescued, they all end up with the same training. McMillan says he hopes donations will help the organization continue to grow, and plans on having veterans eventually become the trainers.

“Our main goal for this nonprofit is to train veterans to train dogs for veterans. That actually is going to be very easy. Veterans have been through the military, they know how to listen, lead, and be led.”

McMillan is committed to making Argus work for America’s heroes, and that dedication makes him a hero himself.

You can follow McMillan on Facebook and Twitter; follow the Argus Service Foundation on Facebook.  

Read about more Dogster Heroes:

About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but 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, 16 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/lucky-dog-trainer-brandon-mcmillan-veterans-service-dogs
<![CDATA[We Chat With "Scandal" Star Bellamy Young About Shelter Pets and White House Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/scandal-star-bellamy-young-shelter-pet-project-dog-rescue-adoption If you're a Scandal fan, you know Bellamy Young from her role as Mellie Grant, the bold and politically ambitious first lady. Unlike her onscreen persona, the actress has a warm and friendly personality, with a particular soft spot for shelter pets.

In fact, she has teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States, the Shelter Pet Project, Maddie's Fund, and the Ad Council to create a video in the "Meet My Shelter Pet" series. It features her adopted dog Bean and cat Sadie; Young wants everyone to know that "euthanizing healthy pets is a scandal." I loved the video and wanted to know more about Bean (and Sadie), and I also had a burning Scandal question to ask ...

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Bellamy and her adopted dog, Bean. (Photo courtesy HSUS)

Meghan Lodge for Dogster: Are Sadie and Bean your first adopted pets? Tell me more: When did you adopt them? How old were they? Do you know what breeds they are?

I've always adopted rescued pets. I'm adopted myself, so adoption is, of course, very near and dear to my heart. I believe every little soul alive has love to give and that no life is disposable. I feel so lucky whenever I get to adopt or foster, like I'm getting to play my part in the grander scheme of things.

I adopted Sadie about eight years ago from the North Central shelter here in Los Angeles; she's a tortie and every bit as chatty as they're purported to be. You can have full paragraphs of conversation with Sadie, and she'll always get the last word in. Bean came from the Carson shelter in Gardena. I pulled her and a Terrier mix, then called Winston, at the same time that go around. Winston is now named Hank and living on a farm in Georgia. I thought Bean would make a great second dog for my mom in North Carolina, but it turns out she was meant for me all along.

What inspired you to adopt a cat and a dog? Is one of them the boss of the household?

I've always spent my life in the company of animals; I can't imagine not. They bring such peace and unconditional love to every day. And, of course, with Sadie, I have the bonus of an extra opinion on everything -- she's the alpha in the house and always makes her preferences known. Luckily, she has unerring taste.

Did you grow up with pets? What do you think encouraged your love for animals?

We always had animals when I was growing up. Everyone in my family did. And the animals were part of the family, not some strange subset or an afterthought. I think most of all it was my amazing Aunt Norma, who taught me what an honor and responsibility it is to love an animal. They put their whole lives in your hands, their complete trust, and they love you unconditionally. That is a sacred space to operate in and a real blessing in one's life. That kind of love heals you. And makes you more compassionate for the more conditional animals we deal with every day -- like other human beings.

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Bellamy Young with Bean and Sadie. (Photo via Twitter)

What is your most memorable moment with Sadie and Bean?

I know it seems silly to say, but getting to shoot with the Humane Society of the United States for the Shelter Pet Project campaign commercial was such a special day. I'm lucky enough to get to work a lot, but to get to take them to work with me was just a dream. And they were such naturals! So calm and sweet. Once Sadie saw that all the lights and all the people were focused on her, I could feel her relax, as if to say, "Finally! Things are as they should be!" She was in heaven!

Bean wasn't sure what to do with herself, but luckily I had brought her favorite blanket, so as soon as I brought that out she was like, "Oh, sleep here? OK! Got it!" The icing on the cake was getting to see her cute little mug in Times Square. Priceless!

OK, fans want to know: Just how spoiled are Sadie and Bean?

They're pretty chill animals, honestly. My house is a no-divas zone, so nobody really acts up. Everybody's pretty fond of napping and of the word "treat." It's snuggly love all day long. Though I will say Bean needs to be covered up at all times -- she'll give the lowest, tiniest grrrrrr, more of a beg than a demand, until you notice her and pull the blanket up. Sadie needs a nice conversation every now and then. And she would be happy being petted until the end of time if she could be!

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Bellamy Young with Bean and Sadie.

Scandal fan question: Why don't the Grants have a dog? Having a dog seems to be a White House tradition, so we dog lovers are curious!

I lobbied long and hard for a White House dog -- Shonda [Rhimes, Scandal creator] finally said, "Of course you have a dog; it's just off-screen." I like to think that the dog spends his days playing with Teddy. They have a great love going in my mind.

What's one piece of advice you'd give someone who is looking to adopt a new pet?

Don't expect everything to be perfect all at once. You know how long it takes to learn about another person; trust takes time. Just open your heart and let your new companion know that they are safe, that you're there for them, that you're listening -- and then really do listen. Believe me, they're trying to communicate and want to please you. Once you start understanding each other, the trust is built, and sooner than you know you'll have a love that lasts a lifetime.

Read our most recent stories about celebrities with dogs

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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Fri, 13 Mar 2015 02:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/scandal-star-bellamy-young-shelter-pet-project-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[We Talk to Buzz Osborne of the Melvins About His Rescue Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/buzz-osborne-melvins-interview-dog-rescue-adoption-motley-zoo
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One of the things I enjoy most when writing about animal rescue work is how one story often leads to another. I interviewed jme thomas from Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, a Washington state-based organization that networks with rock stars to promote animal adoptionOne of those musicians was Buzz Osborne of the Melvins, a legendary sludge metal band, also from Washington, who were early friends with and influences on Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. 

I was delighted to talk to Buzz about the passion he has for his own pack. Here is an edited-for-length version of our email interview.

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Buzz Osborne. (Photo courtesy Buzz Osborne)

Kezia Willingham for Dogster: So, I hear you have dogs. What are their names? What breeds/mixes?

Buzz Osborne: We now have three dogs: two Jack Russells and an English Staffordshire Terrier. Their names are Buster, Coco, and Gigi. Coco is a Jack Russell and the oldest of the three at 18! Buster is also a Jack Russell and is five years old, and Gigi is a rescued English Staffordshire at six.

My wife and I have had dogs for most of the 21 years we’ve been married. I can’t imagine not having dogs. When I was growing up, we had a few dogs, but they were family dogs and not mine in particular. One of them lived to be about 16, one disappeared, and one was smashed flat by an 18 wheeler right in front of me when I was four years old. The truck driver didn’t even stop and just left me there to deal with our now very dead dog. It was a heavy trip for a four-year-old; in fact it would be a heavy trip for me now. I can’t imagine something that terrible happening to one of my dogs.

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Gigi, Buster, Itchy, and Coco. (Photo courtesy Buzz Osborne)

How did your current dogs enter your life?

The first dog my wife and I had was a rescue Pit Bull-Whippet-Lab mix named Itchy. He lived to be 17, and we had to finally put him down a little over a year ago. That was tough. He was pretty much the best dog ever. 

When we got him, he had been severely abused and had never been indoors, never slept on a dog bed, and never eaten or drank out of a bowl. He was malnourished and extremely skittish. The people who had him before us used to let their children throw baseballs and other assorted garbage at him while he ran around terrified and helpless in their backyard. People who behave like that should be in jail. They ended up abandoning him to a neighbor of theirs, who told us the whole story.

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Buzz Osborne of the Melvins with Hannah Levin and jme thomas. (Photo courtesy Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

He didn’t trust us at first, but once we started treating him right he warmed up and became a wonderful companion for the better part of two decades. I can’t imagine a better dog. The first time he ever tasted steak, I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head.

When it got to the point where he couldn’t walk anymore and we had to put him down, my wife didn’t want to show him how upset we were and stayed cool until after he was gone. That was the single hardest thing we’ve been through together. He always hated going to the vet, so we had him euthanized in the back of our jeep. It was really tough, and it’s hard to write about. Afterward we went home to the three dogs we still had, and they helped us feel a whole lot better. Dogs always make you feel better.

We rescued a VERY severely abused 100-pound American Bulldog named Baccus who we had for about 10 years, until he died of natural causes. He hated everyone until he got to know you, which took forever. He was covered in horrendous scars from terrible beatings he’d received in his horrible past. The American Bulldog Rescue had found him in the Los Angeles dog pound, and we ended up with him.

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(Photo courtesy Buzz Osborne)

We gave him a great home, but he was a real challenge. I don’t know if I’d take on another dog who’d been that abused, but I feel like we did our part for the great abused dog spirit, so it’s all good. As long as he was alone with us and the other dogs he was fine, and you could see what an amazing dog he really was. Big heart and very appreciative. We saved him and finally gave him the good life he deserved. I miss him a great deal.

Our dog Coco, my wife bought from a friend, and she’s the first Jack Russell we ever had. To this day, I can’t believe she sold her to us because she’s such a good dog! My wife has a saying that our dogs are not for sale. For any price. And she means it.

Coco showed us just how cool, smart, and special Jack Russells are. Now I can’t imagine not having a Jack Russell. So much fun. We’ve had a wonderful time with Coco for over 16 years. Now she’s in the twilight of her life and basically deaf and becoming blind, but she still gets around pretty good for such an old girl. As old as she is, she still runs around like a young dog after she gets a bath. It’s really cute! At this point we’re just trying to make her comfortable.

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(Photo courtesy Buzz Osborne)

Buster is a young Jack Russell we got as a gift when he was still a mischievous puppy. We’d never raised a puppy before, and it was a pain in the ass, but that’s how it goes with puppies; it was never really a problem.

Buster is the poster dog for what makes Jack Russells my favorite breed. He’s a wild man in need of exercise, and that’s exactly what we do. A tired Jack Russell is a good Jack Russell. Those are words to live by with these dogs. If you might be thinking of getting a Jack but you’re not sure if you can run their ass off every day, DO NOT DO IT. A Jack Russell without exercise will destroy your house.

Buster is a great hangout dog and will follow you around the house all day, studying whatever it is you’re doing. If he can do it he will do it, so you have to keep your eye on him all the time. Jack Russells are hunters and vicious killers and will do so whenever possible. They cannot be trusted around small animals. Killing is what they were bred to do, so you have to keep that in mind.

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Buzz with his dog Buster. (Photo courtesy Buzz Osborne.)

Gigi is an English Staffordshire Terrier we got from a rescue online, but she wasn’t a rescue in the traditional sense. Gigi is a prize-winning former show dog whose owner had died of cancer. She loved Gigi and wanted her trainer to find a good home for her. When my wife contacted them, they had to come to our house and see exactly how we treated dogs before they would give her to us. They were extremely impressed with how healthy and old our dogs were and remarked that it was obvious that we didn’t give up on dogs. 

Gigi is a great dog who almost never barks. She loves food and adventure. I’ve taken her to the recording studio with me a number of times, and she likes to lie on the couch there -- that is, when she’s not trying to con someone into giving her food. Ha!

What are your favorite parts about having dogs?

My wife says who needs cable TV when you have two Jack Russells to take care of? Boy is that true. We don’t have cable TV, and a lot of that has to do with the pooches. I don’t mind at all. Dogs are always happy to see you when you come home, which I love. They stay in the moment and seem to be spiritual giants, as silly as that sounds.

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Photo courtesy Melvins' Facebook page

If you sit on the couch at our house, then you immediately have a dog sitting next to you. I love that, and as a result I’ve become used to being perpetually covered in dog hair. The drummer in Napalm Death pointed this out to me like it was a bad thing. I’ve tried to ignore that comment.

I love dogs, and I love living with dogs, and I’m sure that the human race has developed for the better as a direct result of our association with dogs. They’re day hunters just like us; I saw a documentary that says you can trace all dog DNA back to day-hunting gray wolves.

I can’t imagine all the things they’ve given us, AND they’re amazing burglar alarms! Remember it was the DOGS who warned the Indians that Custer was attacking! Good dog!

I find Buzz's devotion to his dogs inspiring, and it's nice to get to know a different side of a rock star's life. To get more familiar with Melvins, follow the band on Facebook

Read more by Kezia Willingham:

About Kezia Willingham:  Also known as the Breadwinning Laundry Queen, Kezia lives with her family, which includes a pack of rescued cats and dogs, in Seattle. A regular contributor to Catster and Dogster, her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Seattle TimesxoJane.com, and Literary Mama. You can follow her on Twitter

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Thu, 12 Mar 2015 04:00:00 -0700 /lifestyle/buzz-osborne-melvins-interview-dog-rescue-adoption-motley-zoo
<![CDATA[Actress and Advocate Elaine Hendrix Launches "The Pet Matchmaker" Podcast]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/elaine-hendrix-pet-matchmaker-podcast-dog-rescue-adoption Actress Elaine Hendrix is best known for her roles in Romy & Michele's High School Reunion, Superstar, and The Parent Trap, as well for her parts on Two and a Half Men and 90210, but she's also a passionate animal advocate and pet lover. Her affinity for animals has the screen actress adding audio storytelling to her resume with the launch of the weekly The Pet Matchmaker podcast.
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"It's something that I've been wanting to do for a few years now, and I am going to bring in other advocates, people working with animals, experts, celebrity friends, people who've adopted -- a whole range of people who work with, advocate for, and love animals," Hendrix explains.

A proud human to two dogs and two cats, the actress founded The Pet Matchmaker website in 2013 as a resource for pet parents, and she made her first foray into pet-centric audio with her Pet Care Minute reports.

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Hendrix's rescue dog, Ellie, keeps her company during hair and makeup. (All photos courtesy of @elaine4animals on Instagram)

The first episode of The Pet Matchmaker podcast came out Feb. 17 and featured guests Lisa Ann Walter, an actress, writer, comedian and film producer, as well as Bill Crowe, director of the Pet Care Foundation. The Feb. 24 podcast included Nikki Carvey, the founder of Road Dogs & Rescue, and Married With Children's David Faustino. True Blood's Kristin Bauer van Straten and Randy Grim, Stray Rescue of St. Louis founder, were on this week's episode.

"It's a really fun podcast; it's informative, but mostly it's entertaining. I want people to enjoy the experience of it," says Hendrix, whose latest acting role is on Denis Leary’s new television comedy, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, premiering on FX in the summer.

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Ellie chills with actor Denis Leary.

Between acting, advocacy work, and caring for her animals, Hendrix is busy but makes time for The Pet Matchmaker podcast through smart planning. "I'm picking up interviews whenever I can, and then we're going into the studio and assembling them all into one show."

Although her own household is home to both canine and feline companions, Hendrix says the podcast won't be limited to just dogs and cats.

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Hendrix's dogs from left to right: the late Tiloc, Ellie, and Rossmore, who Hendrix found on the side of the road many years ago while she was driving to a set.

"I've got a guest coming on who has a whole group of rescue chickens," she explains, adding that she plans to tackle the topic of rescue horses as well.

For Hendrix, the creation of this podcast follows a decade-long journey of animal adoption and advocacy work that began when she starting receiving invitations to charity events.

"I was doing all these things because I like helping other beings and other people, but I didn't feel like I was making an impact anywhere," says Hendrix, who sat down at her computer to try to figure out how she could focus her charitable work to make the most of her efforts. Having been an animal lover her whole life, she began researching various aspects of animal advocacy and experienced a life-changing moment online.

"I saw an undercover fur video, and I was not expecting to see what I saw, and I definitely wasn't expecting to have the reaction that I did. It was so visceral. I doubled over. I was sobbing uncontrollably," Hendrix says. "I had no idea what was happening to animals, and from that moment forward, it changed my life in such a huge way."

Hendrix purged her home of products tested on animals, and she got rid of her car because of its leather interior. She committed herself to the issue of fur, stopped wearing leather, and became a vegan.

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Hendrix is passionate about helping animals, including her darling dog, Ellie.

"I do everything I possibly can to help animals, and I have since that day," explains Hendrix, who adds that while she never preaches or pushes people, the topic of animals and their welfare seems to inevitably come up in conversation wherever she travels.

"This has become my life's passion and my life's purpose, but helping animals doesn't have to be as extreme as I've made it."

Hendrix says one of the easiest things people can do, especially if they're not ready to commit to adopting an animal, is simply volunteer with adoption organizations. Working in animal adoptions was one of the first volunteer activities she took part in herself -- because it was an easy activity to do no matter what city she found herself shooting in.

"That's just been my primary activity. I've rescued a lot of animals. I've fostered a lot of animals. And I've helped a lot of people adopt animals."

Hendrix's three-year-old dog and travel companion, Ellie, was supposed to be adopted out after the actress rescued the pup, her littermates, and their mom.

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Hendrix has plenty of experience fostering. She never intended to keep Ellie, but the little pup stood out from the pack.

"I had no intentions of keeping any of them. I rescue and foster regularly, so to pass along animals to other good homes is actually something that is easy for me to do because I feel like more animals get helped that way, but it was something about her," says Hendrix, who keeps Ellie with her as much as possible.

"She came to New York with me, and that was her second time to New York. She been across the country four or five times now."

In the coming months, Ellie will no doubt be racking up more frequent flier miles as both Hendrix's acting career and her work on The Pet Matchmaker keep her busy.

"Later this year, we have a web series coming out, we have our own app coming out and other programs in development. I'm really excited. I feel like this is kind of a banner year for us," says Hendrix.

New episodes of The Pet Matchmaker podcast are available for download every Tuesday at The Pet Matchmaker website.

Read more from Heather Marcoux:

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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Thu, 05 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/elaine-hendrix-pet-matchmaker-podcast-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Suki the Pug Gives Fashion Advice to Dog-Loving Celebrities]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/suki-and-the-city-pug-fashion-blog-alec-baldwin-oprah-michelle-obama-sharon-osbourne-miley-cyrus-kate-middleton-paris-hilton What do dogs know about fashion? Well, apparently quite a bit, it would seem -- at least if the latest canine-helmed style blog is anything to go by. Titled Suki and the City, this outlet is commandeered by a London-dwelling Pug who enjoys cavorting around town while doling out fashion-forward advice and observations. Ms. Suki also enjoys dressing up herself, often in chic eyewear.

As a test of Suki's fashionista prowess, I asked her to comment on the style of seven dog-loving celebrities. Here's her savvy couture commentary. 

Veteran actor Alec Baldwin became a mainstream darling off the back of his turn as dapper Jack Donaghy in Tina Fey's 30 Rock sitcom. (Sample banter involves Jack responding to Liz Lemon's question, "Why are you wearing a tux?" with the barb, "It's after six o'clock, Lemon. What am I, a farmer?") But what would Suki think of his foppish aspirations? 

Suki says: "Alec, keep doing what you're doing! Who can resist a man in a suit? And he wears one a lot."

 

A photo posted by Oprah (@oprah) on Dec 23, 2014 at 12:04pm PST

Everyone loves Oprah. A megastar of the media realm, Oprah has banked gazillions while also endearing herself to huge swathes of the world. As for her style sense?

Suki says: "Oprah can do no wrong. She knows exactly how to dress for her curves and still look flawless. I mean, did you see what she wore to the Oscars?"

As first lady, Michelle Obama has to deal with expectations to look prim and proper during her day-to-day duties. How does she manage it while also being a mother of four kids (two human, two dog)?

Suki says: "Michelle Obama has become an icon in her own right -- a style icon! She always looks sophisticated and elegant without looking too mumsy!"

 

A photo posted by Sharon Osbourne (@sharonosbourne) on Sep 18, 2014 at 2:22pm PDT

A rock star wife turned reality TV maven, Sharon Osbourne has long been the focus of prying paparazzi lenses. But has her wardrobe become a lesson in the over the top and the cliched, or is she a testament to keeping things classy in a crazy world? Over to Suki ...

Suki says: "Sharon has monochrome down to a tee, and she keeps it fun with her fabulous hair!"

 

A photo posted by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on Feb 10, 2015 at 10:18am PST

When not baiting the world's metaphorical comments section with her shock schtick, popster Miley Cyrus likes to relax at home with her pups and, er, her pet pig. Is Suki down with the Smiler army?

Suki says: "Miley either gets it really right or very wrong -- there is no in between. But when it's good, it's good!"

A contemporary royal icon or a reminder of the futility of the modern monarchy? Either way, Kate Middleton's wardrobe has become a thing of infatuation for the world's gawking classes. She also apparently has a baby called George, which suggests the reminders of the days of imperialism will long continue.

Suki says: "Whatever Kate Middleton wears tends to sell out everywhere, which can only mean she's doing something right. And how cute is George?"

 

A photo posted by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on Feb 10, 2015 at 12:09pm PST

At one point Paris Hilton was the world's most infamous socialite. But have her views on clothing oneself in public changed as she's gotten older? Only Suki knows the answer.

Suki says: "Paris Hilton is one of the only people who can continuously wear pink and get away with it! Hats off to her."

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, 04 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/suki-and-the-city-pug-fashion-blog-alec-baldwin-oprah-michelle-obama-sharon-osbourne-miley-cyrus-kate-middleton-paris-hilton
<![CDATA[Actor Jon Bernthal Wants to See a Picture of You and Your Pit Bull]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/jon-bernthal-walking-dead-majority-project-pit-bulls-bsl-animal-farm-foundation
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In 2012, I answered a casting call for the Majority Project. The ongoing campaign, created by Animal Farm Foundation, is a photo collection of "Pit Bull-type" dogs and their owners. As the human to an American Pit Bull Terrier, I'm always keen to share pictures of my boy, especially when it can help educate the public about just how wonderful the breed is.

The foundation began rescuing and rehoming pets, focusing on American Pit Bull Terriers, in 1985. Very quickly, it realized that many of the dogs were not purebreds but a mix of various breeds often labeled as Pit Bull. The group says on its website that a Pit Bull is "not a breed or breed mix, but an ever-expanding group that includes whatever an animal control worker, shelter worker, dog trainer, politician, dog owner, police officer, or newspaper says it is."

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A submission to The Majority Project: Chris with Brady, Abby, and Cassie in Clayton, North Carolina.

Beyond its many programs and services to help these dogs, AFF wanted to do something bigger to fight the breed-specific legislation targeting these dogs and their owners. The Majority Project features images of Pit Bull owners holding signs that read, "I am a ________. I am a "Pit Bull" dog owner. I am the MAJORITY."

Each person personalizes their sign by filling in the blank with a word that describes themselves as a valued member of a family or community. The foundation had recognized that it wasn't just the public's perception of the dogs being targeted by BSL that needed to change, it was their perception of the owners of those dogs.

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Submission to The Majority Project: a girl and her dog in Jackson, Mississippi.

Notorious anti-Pit Bull groups like to generalize these owners with labels such as "thugs" and "lowlifes." Those labels couldn't be further from the truth, as the Majority Project is proving one photo at a time. The people who own the dogs, like myself, are as diverse as the breeds and breed mixes that fall under the Pit Bull umbrella. Since the start of the project, AFF has received more than 1,000 photos and gained more than 9,000 followers on its Facebook fan page.

Teachers, lawyers, doctors, children, parents, law enforcement members, and more have all submitted photos to the project. To add a little star power to its campaign, the foundation has teamed up with Jon Bernthal, best known for his former role as Shane Walsh on The Walking Dead. Some submissions will even be featured along with the actor's in an upcoming televised public service announcement!

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Jon Bernthal and one of his Pit Bulls.

AFF's director of operations, Caitlin Quinn, said that although "it is hard to identify the impact of the Majority Project, since these days so many great things are happening for Pit Bull dogs and their owners, we do know that BSL is on the decline all across the country. It's our goal to continue to fuel that trend by generating awareness through the Majority Project photos. This is definitely good news for Pit Bulls and their owners across the nation. National Canine Research Council reported that five more states no longer allow BSL, and more than seven times as many U.S. municipalities repealed or rejected proposed BSL than enacted it between January 2012 to May 2014."

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It's amazing having stars like Bernthal participating in the Majority Project. Posed with his two dogs, Boss and Venice, along with his two-year-old son, Billy, the actor has a sign that reads, "I am a father. I am a "Pit Bull" dog owner. I am the MAJORITY." The actor's love for his dogs doesn't go unnoticed on his Instagram account, where he posts pictures of them going for walks with the family, riding in their vehicles, and sharing in cuddle time.

He is a model example for the public and for his son. Billy is clearly being raised to understand that dogs are part of the family and that they are individuals and deserve to be treated as such. 

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My own submission to The Majority Project in 2012.

It is my personal hope that one day, we won't need campaigns like the the Majority Project because it will have helped to eradicate BSL and other types of breed discrimination. We can't get there without your help, though, so download the Majority Project poster, grab your pooch, and take a picture! Submit your photo, then check out the rest of the submissions on AFF's website and Facebook page. Feel free to share your photo in the comments below -- we'd love to see them!

Read more about Pit Bulls and BSL 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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Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/jon-bernthal-walking-dead-majority-project-pit-bulls-bsl-animal-farm-foundation
<![CDATA[Yes, People Name Their Dogs After Academy Award Nominees]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/academy-awards-oscars-nominees-dog-names-ellen-degeneres-halo-freekibble On Sunday night, the biggest names in Hollywood will be on display at the 87th Academy Awards. But some of the best names will be watching from their homes all across the (Golden?) globe.

The practice of naming pets after famous actors and actresses is a common one -- and to prove it, Banfield Pet Hospital, the world’s largest veterinary practice, recently scanned its database of more than 2.7 million pets in search of Oscar-worthy names. And sure enough, this year’s Best Actor nominees have quite the four-legged following.

Among the most interesting names are: 

  • Bradley Pooper -- an underdog looking to snipe the competition for Bradley Cooper’s role in American Sniper.
  • Benedict Cumberscratch -- a feline nod to the actor nominated for his role in The Imitation Game.
  • Bark Ruffalo -- the name carried by two dogs in honor of actor, Mark Ruffalo, up for his part in the film Foxcatcher. 

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"Bark Ruffalo," named for Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, is a real-life Foxcatcher. (Photo courtesy of Banfield Animal Hospital)

Other names in the Banfield files were nods to legends who are current nominees, including:

  • Clint Eastwood -- six dogs and two cats named after the director of the Best Picture-nominated film American Sniper.
  • Meryl -- six cats and six dogs named after the actress nominated yet again, this time for her role in Into the Woods.
  • Oprah -- 35 dogs and 11 cats named after the icon who starred in the Best Picture-nominated film Selma.
  • Bill Murray -- 13 dogs and two cats named after the actor who starred in The Grand Budapest Hotel, including copycat Bill Furray. 

And, of course, there is the name Oscar itself -- the Banfield count is that 4,373 dogs and 1,150 cats have the name. Even the host gets in on the fun. Yes, there is a Neil Catrick Harris.

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"Bradley Pooper" has his sights set on a big win for "American Sniper." (Courtesy Banfield Animal Hospital)

Regardless of their names, animals in shelters will once again be huge winners on Oscar night, thanks to the nominees who don’t win an award.

For the second year in a row, Ellen DeGeneres' natural pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets, in partnership with Freekibble.com, is gifting 20 non-winning Oscar nominees a gift that gives back: a donation of 10,000 meals to the animal shelter or rescue of the celebrity’s choice. The donation is worth $6,200.

The gift is part of the coveted $160,000 "Everyone Wins at the Oscars" gift bags from Distinctive Assets, an L.A.-based marketing firm. Last year, Julia Roberts, Streep, Barkhad Abdi, and June Squibb took advantage of the donation for their favorite shelters. Los Angeles-based shelters received donations on behalf of the nominees as well. In total, Halo and Freekibble.com donated 200,000 meals on behalf of Oscar nominees.

Read more dog news 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, 20 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0800 /the-scoop/academy-awards-oscars-nominees-dog-names-ellen-degeneres-halo-freekibble
<![CDATA[Pajamas for Pitbulls Creator Heads to the Academy Awards]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/pajamas-for-pitbulls-academy-awards-oscars Longtime Pit Bull lover Stephanie Karr has been making dog clothes for decades, and while her sewing skills and generosity have earned her star status among some Canadian rescue groups, she never dreamed her hobby-turned-business, Pajamas for Pitbulls, would take her to Los Angeles. When she started gifting dog pajamas to rescues, she couldn't have predicated she would have a spot in a celebrity gifting suite during this year's Academy Awards festivities.
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"It was the chance of a lifetime that I got invited to go, and I've arranged for a rescue dog to be with me at my booth," says Karr, who was contacted by a gift suite producer after her Pajamas for Pitbulls page gained traction on Facebook.

"The producer happens to be a Pit Bull owner herself, so I sent her a pair of jammies because they like to inspect the quality of the items," explains Karr, whose handmade dog onesies will be going home with Oscar attendees.

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Karr with her pajama-wearing Pit Bulls, Zeus and Thor. (All photos courtesy of Stephanie Karr and Pajamas for Pitbulls)

The drive from Calgary, Alberta, to Hollywood, California, is a long one for Karr and her husband, but she believes the exposure she'll receive from the Oscars will be well worth it.

"More sales means more donation money, which means I can reach out to more rescues."

That drive to help rescues was what turned Karr's hobby into a home business in the first place. She'd been sewing little T-shirts and coats for her own dogs for about 20 years when her current Pit Bulls, Thor and Zeus, inspired her to create fleece onesies in November of 2013. The adorable pajamas helped protect her short-haired pooches from wicked Calgary winters and were a big hit with her Facebook friends at Prairie Pit Bull Rescue (PPBR) -- the group that one of her chilly dogs came from.

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California-born Zeus stays warm during Calgary's cold winters thanks to his adorable pajamas.

"Zeus is actually a rescue out of California," says Karr, who enthusiastically accepted an invitation from Prairie Pit Bull Rescue to sell her onesie pajamas during an adoption event. She'd been looking for a way to give back to the group that brought Zeus into her life, and the opportunity seemed like a perfect fit.

"I said, I want to do the adoption event, and I'm gonna give you five dollars from every pair. At the end of my first adoption event, I ended up handing over 60 dollars cash, plus I gave her six or seven pairs of jammies."

After that, the ball was rolling and Karr -- who still works a full-time job -- got busy sewing up a storm to raise money for PPBR. In addition to several monetary donations, Karr has donated 30 onesies to and purchased four travel crates for the group.

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Zeus and Thor turn lots of heads at the dog park in Calgary.

"It kind of expanded from there," says Karr, who was contacted by other rescue groups after launching her Facebook page. She estimates she’s donated around a couple thousand dollars to rescues, plus plenty of onesies for groups to use or sell through silent auctions.

"I've donated money to AARCS, and at Christmastime I sponsored a dog at Heaven Can Wait -- a Pit Bull who's in its care. I made him a pair of jammies and got him dog food, got him everything on his wish list, as well as donating six pairs of jammies to Heaven Can Wait," says Karr, who also supports rescues in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

Expanding her line of butt-less, belly-less pajamas to breeds of all shapes and sizes allows Karr to expand her sales and help as many dogs as she can.

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These two cute customers prove that Karr's pajamas aren't just for Pit Bulls.

"I make them for dogs anywhere from five pounds to a 165-pound Great Dane.”

Although the pajamas keep all breeds toasty warm, Karr says they serve a dual purpose for Pit Bulls.

"I think it assists in the demystifying of that bad dog image," she says, explaining that when Thor and Zeus head to the dog park without coats or clothes, people tend to give the family a wide berth.

"Some people even go to the other side of the dog park -- but put them in a pair of pajamas, and people don’t see the Pit Bull anymore, they just see cuteness. They say, 'Oh, what a cute dog,' and they’re bending down getting kisses and seeing the wiggle butts and all of a sudden they're like, 'What kind of dog is it?'"

"By then, the dog has warmed their hearts," she says, "and they've made their own idea of what the dog is."

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Karr says onesies like these help people see beyond breed bias.

Karr will be advocating for her beloved Pit Bulls (and all rescue dogs) at her Academy Awards gifting booth in downtown L.A. during the 87th Academy Awards. Even before her big trip was announced, Karr began noticing international orders coming in from California and Florida, and she plans to add some lighter fabrics to her line for customers in warmer climates.

Funding the purchase of materials for lighter weight onesies was one of the reasons why Karr created a Kickstarter for Pajamas for Pitbulls. Hundreds of backers purchased pajamas through the Kickstarter, which raised thousands of dollars more than Karr's original goal of $8,000.

"I'm going to be able to do so much more for dogs and my business," says Karr.

And while the world will be watching what celebrities are wearing on Oscar night, in the days after the Academy Awards, plenty of Hollywood hotshots will be watching their dogs wear Karr's creations. It's the kind of exposure a small, home-based business could only dream of, and it may be the key to keeping more rescue dogs cozy and warm.

Read about more people helping Pit Bulls:

 

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at dogsterheroes@dogster.com.

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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Fri, 20 Feb 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/pajamas-for-pitbulls-academy-awards-oscars
<![CDATA[George Lopez and Hilary Duff Use Social Media to Help Find a Stolen Dog]]> http://www.dogster.com/the-scoop/george-lopez-and-hilary-duff-pitch-in-to-find-a-stolen-dog Hilary Duff and George Lopez are helping the owner of a Beverly Hills boutique find her stolen dog. Charlie, a white Maltese, is known by locals for sitting outside Switch, the boutique owned by Julia Cohen and her sister. In the last nine years, he's become a sort of four-legged landmark for people shopping in his neighborhood. "Charlie's a staple here," Duff told KABC. "Everyone in Beverly Hills knows him. He sits outside the front of the store. He never ventures too far to the left, to the right."

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But as of a few days ago, Charlie is no longer waiting outside of Switch for customers. According to surveillance video, he was taken away by a woman dressed in yellow, followed by a young girl. The video shows the woman following Charlie until he turns a corner, then coming back with him in her arms.

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Cohen desperately wants her friend returned, and she's willing to pay $5,000 to get him back. She says that she'll even pay the money to the person who took him. She originally offered $2,000, but the reward has increased since Charlie first disappeared.

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Charlie with actress Lia Michele ("Glee" and "Sons of Anarchy")

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Naturally, many dogs go missing at any given time. Fortunately, Cohen and Charlie have famous friends who can help get the word out. Duff and Lopez have taken to their Instagram and Twitter feeds to let everyone know about the missing pup -- plus, of course, the reward for Charlie's return. "We're trying to find him," Lopez told KABC. "So Hilary Duff's got one side of the town covered, and George Lopez, I'll throw it out to the other side of the town."


World News Videos | ABC World News

With both sides of Los Angeles covered (plus a sizable reward), Charlie may have a good chance of coming home at last. Anyone who has any information about Charlie's whereabouts is asked to call Switch boutique at (310) 860-1650; check the store's Twitter for more info as well.

Via KABC; photos via Instagram

Read more news about dogs on Dogster:

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Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:35:00 -0800 /the-scoop/george-lopez-and-hilary-duff-pitch-in-to-find-a-stolen-dog
<![CDATA[We Talk to Puppy Bowl XI Referee Dan Schachner]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/puppy-bowl-ref-dan-schachner-super-bowl-animal-planet Dan Schachner is the referee for Sunday's Puppy Bowl XI, and he knows exactly what you're thinking. Yes, they check the balls beforehand.

"We're all about quality control here at Puppy Bowl. We pride ourselves in it," said Schachner, who is in his fourth year as the Puppy Bowl ref. "I do personally check each and every set of balls. Unless, of course, they're neutered. Then, I don’t bother."

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Dan Schachner is back for his fourth year as referee in Sunday's Puppy Bowl XI. (All photos courtesy of Animal Planet)

Premiering on Animal Planet on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, the Puppy Bowl once again showcases 55 adoptable puppies playing on a football field with a hamster-piloted blimp overhead and a full-on kitty halftime show.

But it's all about the action on the field. And this 11th edition of the Puppy Bowl features teams -- Ruff vs. Fluff -- and a scoreboard for the first time.

All the more requirement for a referee beyond reproach. And Schachner is once again up to the task. Unlike with the New England Patriots in the other big game on Sunday, ball deflation is highly encouraged in this matchup. Touchdowns are scored when a puppy carries a toy –- including plush balls with protruding foamy spikes -- across the goal line.

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"Ball deflation is no big deal for us at Puppy Bowl, because unlike Tom Brady, we're not gripping our balls with our opposable thumbs," Schachner said. "We're gripping them with our razor-sharp teeth. So deflation is a normal part of our game. In fact, if toys are not deflated, the puppies aren't working hard enough."

"It sounds like a joke," he said, "but there's so much pulling on these chew toys, so much back-and-forth and growling over one or two toys; they do get destroyed by the time the game is over."

Destroyed toys are just one aspect of the Puppy Bowl that Schachner, adorned in a referee uniform (and clutching a Dustbuster), must take into account. Penalties are also part of the game, from excessive howling to pancaking. And as a veteran of four Puppy Bowls, Schachner is not afraid to throw his flag.

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"In the beginning [in 2012], I'm not going to lie, I was a little bit smitten with these guys," Schachner said. "It was hard, and I'd miss an infraction, and luckily we have producers who would say, 'Dan, look behind you, there was some pancacking or excessive use of the water bowl going on, you might want to throw a flag.' But it was hard to be tough because they were so adorable."

"But by year four, you don't even see how adorable they are. I just see them all as little mini-athletes, and everyone is on the same level, and I have no problem throwing the flag down. In fact, sometimes they have to calm me down with the flags."

When it comes to helping dogs find their forever homes, Schachner also has no restraints. Not only does the Puppy Bowl raise awareness of the need for adoption, Schachner, who is also an actor and narrator for various Animal Planet shows, fosters dogs in the East Village of New York in his personal life.

"I have foster dogs at home, one at a time, and one of the reasons I love doing it is that I can really learn about a breed, about their temperament and their nature," Schachner said. "I grew up around dogs, but once I got married and had kids, I felt like I was dealing with my own small pack in the house. And then a few years ago, I started thinking about ways to introduce dogs into the house in a way that's responsible because my kids were pretty young, and this was the best middle ground I could find.

"I teamed up with a local rescue center that's about 10 minutes from my house [Social Tees Animal Rescue], and if they have a dog that's suitable for my house, we take him or her on for six to eight weeks, and then when they find a Forever Home, off they go," Schachner said. "I just think it's a nice alternative for people who might not be ready to commit their entire lives and to the life of the pet. They may just want to test the waters. It allows you to do that. And when my kids are older and more responsible, I feel like I'll really know the lay of the land when it comes to picking the right breed because I'll have had that experience.”

While the Puppy Bowl highlights, obviously, the joy and fun of puppies, Schachner is equally committed to finding forever homes for older dogs.

"It's very easy for puppies to get adopted, but it's so much harder for these older dogs," Schachner said. "I mean like two-year-old, three-year-old dogs, they can sometimes wait a long time before finding a home. I try to say this as much as I can: Puppy Bowl pups, yeah, they're going to get adopted right away. That’s not difficult. The real challenge is, go to that shelter, and maybe the puppy you fell in love with at Puppy Bowl isn't there anymore, but you might find a two-year-old who is incredible and doesn't need to be house-trained, has a calm temperament, and would be a nice addition to your house."

Schachner said four years of reffing the big game has given him a unique insight into the temperament of dogs. While GEICO Field might look big on TV, the space where upwards of 55 puppies play and compete is in reality just 20 feet by 10 feet, so Schachner gets up close and personal.

"It smaller than you think," Schachner said. "Theoretically, it shouldn't be that hard to score a touchdown, but you'd be surprised how long it can take one of these puppy running backs to get into the end zone."

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Team Ruff: Lewis.

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Team Fluff: Aaron.

He added, "You gain insight, not just into dog behavior, but how behavior changes from breed to breed, when you put them into play situations. It's like a doggy daycare, and I'm in charge. What's really remarkable is how different breeds will react, and that's what I've learned over the years -- how the nature of dogs really comes out in those situations. Of course, a terrier is going to be a little more aggressive, and the really small breeds are going to be skittish. That comes out a lot."

Puppy Bowl XI premieres at 3 p.m. E.T. Sunday on Animal Planet. See more photos and videos of the teams at Animal Planet and Facebook/PuppyBowl. Follow Dan Schachner on Twitter and Facebook.

Read more about animals and the Super Bowl:

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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Thu, 29 Jan 2015 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/puppy-bowl-ref-dan-schachner-super-bowl-animal-planet
<![CDATA[TV Host Mark Steines Talks About His Life With Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/mark-steines-hallmark-channel-home-family-dog-fred-golden-retriever-spooky-buddies Mark Steines is an award-winning journalist who hosts the Hallmark Channel's Emmy-nominated lifestyle show Home & Family. He can be seen creating recipes in the kitchen, using his carpentry skills to build and repurpose items, interviewing celebrity guests and experts, and chatting with co-host Cristina Ferrare.

The longtime host and anchor of Entertainment Tonight, Steines also has a passion for photography. His work is displayed in many Hollywood homes and offices, and his photo book, See the Light: A Passage to Sierra Leone, helps to document Light House Medical Mission’s journey to raise awareness for fresh water in impoverished countries.

Three male family members, Avery, Kai, and Fred, are the other passions in his life, but Fred clearly stands out as the one who is oh-so-special. It's OK. There's no jealousy from Steines' sons, as Fred is their Golden Retriever!

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TV journalist Mark Steines with his sons, Kai (left) and Avery, and their family dog, Fred. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Steines has an irresistible combination of charm, smarts, sense of humor, and compassion, which was on full display as I chatted with him about his life with dogs.

Marina Anderson for Dogster: What a beautiful dog Fred is! How did you come up with his name? 

Mark Steines: Long story. I spent several weeks training my children before bringing a pet into their lives. It was a stalling tactic, as I knew we were invited to the set of a Disney film and would be adopting one of the Golden Retrievers from the cast of Spooky Buddies.

We all agreed that if just two of us agreed on a name that would be it. As you can imagine, the boys came up with all these silly names, like Lightsaber. While driving home from work, the name Fred just popped into my head, but when I proposed the new name option to my boys over dinner that night, they shot it down.

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The canine cast of Spooky Buddies, including puppy Fred in the bunny ears.

Shortly after that, we boarded a plane to fly to the set in Vancouver to meet our new friend. My boys were asked to play with the puppies during one of the breaks on set to get to know them better. They fell in love with B-Dog. When the handler brought us all together for our first family photo, the handler/trainer informed my boys that B-Dog was his character's name, but that the puppy we selected already had a name, and it was FRED! We knew at that moment that we had found a perfect match for the Steines family. He was meant to be with us. He is the best dog I have ever had!

Talk about getting a psychic vibe. That is so cool! Why choose a Golden Retriever? 

I had heard great things about the demeanor of the Golden. They make wonderful family pets.

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Avery and Kai with puppy Fred. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

They certainly do. I had one for 15 years: my buddy, Dalton. Does Fred help with emotional support for you and your two boys? 

Fred tucks the boys in bed every night and wakes them up in the morning. He is a lover and cuddler! He sleeps at the foot of their bed or outside their bedroom door.

Awwww, tucking them in ... kind of like Nana in Peter Pan. Any special diet? 

Fred was once 107 pounds! I was unaware of the eating habits of the Goldens and how they will eat themselves to an early grave. I discussed it with Fred's vet, and he was put on Hills RD prescription dog food. I added carrots and pumpkin to his diet. I also convinced Fred that ice cubes are food. He has lost 20 pounds since we started!

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Puppy Fred learns good manners. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

That’s wonderful. Is he a very social dog? 

Fred is happy-go-lucky and enjoys playing with other dogs, big or small. He is the friendliest dog I have ever seen.

Choose three words to describe Fred.

Playful, kind, loyal.

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Fred. (Photo by Mark Steines)

If you could be any breed of dog, what would it be? 

I would be Fred. I love his attitude and his sensitivities to others. He is so tuned into other people and how they are feeling. If you are happy, he meets you on that level. When we are sick, he checks on us. If you are lazy, he is lazy with you. If you are eating, he will try to eat your food with you.

Do you "correct" people in public? For example, if a dog is left in a car or someone isn't carrying water for their dog on a roasting hot day? 

If I see a dog in danger, I will approach the owner, but I don't correct others on their pets' behavior unless that behavior is aggressive and threatens others. But, yes, if a dog is in harm's way, I will do whatever is needed to correct the situation.

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Mark and Fred at the beach. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Applause! Was there a specific incident that motivated you to be so involved with animals? 

I grew up in Iowa and spent a lot of time on the farm around animals. Dogs have always been a part of my life, and I know the benefits of having one in my house. They teach us so much.

Yes, they do! Do you have a "dog mission"?

I support spay/neuter, for sure.

What do you love to do most with Fred? 

Snuggle and watch the joy my boys have with him. He has a moment in his day with "puppy energy" -- right after eating, which usually means a game of "chase your tail" or "rub my belly." We enjoy taking him to our place in Ojai. Fred loves it up there, he has so much space to run and play. He travels extremely well. He is so chill in the car. 

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The boys at home. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Any quirky personality traits? 

He is the food thief. Anything left unattended on the counter is gone. We've learned our lessons.

Does Fred inspire you to take photos? 

Yes, I will take him out for a walk and take my camera with me. Never know when the moment hits or the opportunity arises.

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Fred checks out the pool. (Photo courtesy of Mark Steines)

Has Fred appeared on Home & Family

Yes, he has. He has appeared on several animal segments.

I’ll bet everyone lavishes him with attention.

When we come out of commercial break, all of our guests and crew applaud, and whenever that happens, Fred takes off and will run as if he is taking a bow or taking the stage! It's very funny to watch. I don't know where he gets that. I guess he truly is a show dog! 

Do you like to dress up Fred in clothes or holiday costumes? 

The only dress up was when he was a puppy for the movie. You can see him on the cover of the DVD -- he is in the blue bunny ears.

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Fred enjoys a sunset. (Photo by Mark Steines)

How do your sons, Avery and Kai, divvy up sharing time with Fred? 

My boys are very good about sharing, but I always make them take him for a walk together. I want them to always remember the three of them together. When they get older and I am no longer here, I want them to look back and remember those walks with Fred.

If you had all the time and money to devote to animals, how many would you have and where would you live? 

I would live on a ranch in the Colorado mountains. I really enjoy the change of seasons, open spaces, and I would want to get a giant fireplace. It would be great to have a lot of dogs and a few horses!

To keep up with Mark, visit his website and the Home and Family site, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  

Read more celebrity interviews by Marina Anderson on Dogster: 

About Marina Anderson: Marina is an actress, writer, best-selling author (David Carradine, The Eye of My Tornado), jewelry designer (The Flying Goddess), and publicist (The Media Hound PR) for clients such as Robby Benson, Ed Begley Jr., and music icon Alan Parsons and Gary U.S. Bonds. She is also a personal manager and career and spiritual consultant. Marina's passion is helping animal rescue organizations. Look for her next book, The Adventures Of Lulu The Collie, which stars her beloved dog, Lulu, daughter to Lassie VIII, and keep up with her work by following her on Facebook. 

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Tue, 27 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/mark-steines-hallmark-channel-home-family-dog-fred-golden-retriever-spooky-buddies
<![CDATA[Motley Zoo Animal Rescue Works With Rock Stars to Find Dogs Homes]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/motley-zoo-animal-rescue-dog-adoption-motley-crue
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Seattle-area folks who help dogs and cats can't help but be aware of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, which was recently awarded a KEXP-FM Community Partnership Grant. It will raise funds for the organization during March. KEXP is hands down the hippest independent radio station in Seattle, and for the rescue to receive one of its awards is quite an honor.

I wanted to learn more about Motley Zoo, and its founder, jme Thomas, was kind enough to answer my questions via email.

Dogster: How did Motley Zoo get started? 

jme Thomas: Motley Zoo was founded in 2009, after my husband and I became disillusioned with some other rescues we volunteered for. After two years, we saw there were things that worked, but there was a lot that didn't -- and we believed that a "better" way was possible, one that appreciated and respected the volunteers more and ensured animals that didn't fall through the cracks; we wanted one where quality would always trump quantity.

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Motley Zoo has fun with its name on T-shirts and other promotional items. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo)

We had met other likeminded people through this work, and those people joined us to comprise our board. The board has since changed a bit, but my husband and I remain, along with Nancy Jones, who had joined shortly after founding. Thankfully, we are a close group of people who really provide a strong support system to this organization.

Since our inception, with a current crew of 150 volunteers, we have rescued and rehomed more than 1,400 animals.

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Buzz Osborne of the Melvins with Hannah Levin and jme thomas. (Photo courtesy Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

What kinds of animals do you rescue? Do you have a shelter or foster network?

We are foster-based and primarily rescue dogs and cats, but as the name "zoo" implies, we are open to whatever animals are in need. Our fosters' availability, skills, experience, and willingness dictate which animals we can take and when. We have the occasional "small furry" house-pet, but we have also helped birds, a pig, and even a cow! 

Primarily we work to support the shelters, so they usually contact us when they are overflowing or if animals have a medical or behavioral need that can't be properly addressed there. This can mean a dog with a broken leg who requires crate rest and frequent care, for example.

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jme thomas of Motley Zoo with Motley Crue's Tommy Lee. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

What would you say makes your rescue unique?

Motley Zoo is unique in a few ways -- namely our fresh, forward-thinking and go-get-'em approach, which has helped propel us forward. Part of this is our rock-and-roll aesthetic. We have a fun, cool vibe, which attracts many followers.

Besides our look and attitude, we also have fun marketing gigs that help raise awareness and attention to our cause. For example, we name our animals after musicians and bands (or their songs), and then take the animals to meet [the musicians] when they come to town. We take pictures with them and have them sign memorabilia, which we hang throughout the studio, and the musicians share on their social media, which helps generate interest not only in the general idea of rescue, but in specific animals as well.

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Alan White of Yes stopped by and got mobbed by some of the Motley Zoo dogs. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

When you're looking through a bunch of animals online, and you see one named Tommy Lee or Nikki Sixx [of Motley Crue], you're going to take notice! This not only gives the animals more individuality, but it increases their rate of adoption, too. Our animals have met Snoop Dogg, ZZ Top, Slayer, Rob Zombie and his band, Tommy Lee, and many more. It has been an amazing opportunity to spread the word about how rockin' rescue can be.

How do you connect with the celebrities? Do they ever adopt from you?

We are so fortunate and proud of this aspect of our marketing! It actually was born out of a dream I had one night. While anticipating attending an upcoming Rancid show, I chose the band members and a bunch of songs for a crew of cats and kittens who came in. The night before the show, I dreamed I took the kittens to the concert and showed the band, who thought it was hilarious. I woke up and was laughing telling my husband, who also thought it was hilarious ... then I stopped mid-laugh and said, "I'm going to do that." He said, "What? You're going to bring kittens to a concert?" 

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jme thomas of Motley Zoo with Motley Crue's Tommy Lee. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

"Yes," I said, like this was the most normal thing in the world!

He looked at me funny (although he should know by now not to question my ideas!), and I went about making my plan. I showed up early to the show, handed the tour manager our card, and explained what I was there for. The little crate of mewing kittens certainly helped drive it home. 

The band thought this was fabulous, and I was taken backstage to do a quick photo shoot. They were so nice and spent more than a half hour with me, asking about what we do and talking about their pets -- they even invited us to be on the guest list!

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Motley Zoo with Tommy Lee and some of the rescue dogs. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

Of course, when I called my husband and told him that, he asked which show was next -- and our celebrity meet-and-greet concept was born. Through some of the other meetings, we hooked up with a DJ from a radio station and her photographer friend, who helped connect us to more band encounters.

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jme thomas brought a bunch of adoptable puppies to meet the band Kongos. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

Since then, as we've become known for doing this, it's been a lot easier to set up meetings, even last-minute ones. We have even been invited to concerts and festivals to hang out backstage and in the VIP lounge, to provide the artists some much needed comfort and relaxation. It's been a big hit!

I love your T-shirts. Who designs them?

I come up with most of the ideas, but my husband is the true artist, who perfects and helps them come to fruition. I used to design clothing myself, so this is a fun outlet for me now that I am too busy to do it running Motley Zoo. 

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My daughter, Zinnia, in my Motley Zoo T-shirt. (Photo by Kezia Willingham)

Would you like to share a story about any of rescues you currently have?

Mr. Melvin for sure. He is a red Miniature Pinscher named after Buzz Osborne of the Melvins. He even got to meet him! Melvin was a bit shy with him, but as a guardian of rescued terriers himself, Buzz was very sweet and patient.

He came to us from a local shelter with a grade-four heart murmur. When you pick him up, you can actually feel the blood flow in his chest, bypassing his heart. It's scary. You'd think this would make him fragile, weak, lethargic, and sickly -- but no! He is the fastest, spunkiest, most lively and playful dog. A bit of a spaz actually, but so super sweet and lovable. He just turned one year old on Nov. 7.

He needs a surgery to save his life, which will cost $5,000 to $10,000. We have never done this before ... we routinely spend thousands on animals, but four thousand has been the limit thus far (for an eight-week-old puppy with a liver shunt). Mr. Melvin will be available for adoption from Motley Zoo Animal Rescue after his surgery.  

This is a very prohibitive obstacle, but as we vowed never to let any dollar figure cloud our judgment, we are hoping we can go forward with it, raise the funds, and find him a permanent home. The surgery is indeed a requirement for him to live a full life. We are talking with a college in the state, to see whether it can perform the surgery, but it is five hours away and requires a few visits in the meantime, so we are seeking a temporary foster situation nearer the school to try and arrange that.

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TV on the Radio plus puppies = cuteness. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo's Facebook page)

Sadly, too, his foster family here had a house fire and are currently displaced. They can no longer have him in their home, as they are staying in temporary digs themselves, with their own pets. You know you have great fosters when they are crying at having to hand over their foster dog. She just kept saying she didn't want him to go, and when they get things figured out they want him back.

So Melvin is again in need of fostering, for a different reason. This poor guy never seems to catch a break.

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Some of the adopted dogs and cats who found homes via Motley Zoo in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Motley Zoo's Instagram)

In the meanwhile, he's hanging out with me, coming to Rock Star Treatment [Motley Zoo's doggie daycare], and having a blast. But he misses his foster family, and my house is really boring for him. I have older, sedentary dogs, and he needs a bit more action. He's a true rock star and wants to party like one -- at least until we can get him the surgery he needs. Then maybe he'll slow down a tad for recovery, but he'll no doubt be back to his usual "live fast" lifestyle very soon!

Find out more about Motley Zoo on its website (check out the T-shirts and hoodies!) and on Facebook (where you'll also find Rock Star Treatment). Also check out Motley Zoo on InstagramYouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter

Read more about celebrities helping dogs:

Do you know of a rescue hero — dog, human, or group — we should profile on Dogster? Write us at dogsterheroes@dogster.com.

About Kezia Willingham: Kezia lives in Seattle with her pack of rescued cats and dogs.  She identifies as a Breadwinning Laundry Queen who works for Head Start by day and is a frequent contributor to Catster and Dogster.  Her writing has appeared in multiple anthologies, the New  York Times, and the Seattle Times.

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Tue, 13 Jan 2015 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/motley-zoo-animal-rescue-dog-adoption-motley-crue
<![CDATA[Check Out Lilikoi and Rella, Doggy Supermodels ]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/pomeraniams-lilikoi-rella-cute-dog-pictures Lilikoi and Rella are two fluff-ball Pomeranians who like to bill themselves as "doggy supermodels." It's a lofty claim, but one quick glance through their online lookbook confirms their assertion, as these Hawaiian-born pups dress up in some of the most vivid and fantastical outfits around.

Here's a radiant run-through of Lilikoi and Rella's most eye-catching pics.

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(All photos courtesy of Lilikoi and Rella's Facebook page)

Sometimes the Facebook photo caption says it all: "What can we get you to drink? Pomtinis and Mutt-Tais are our favorite drink! Pomalicious!"

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When the mood strikes, Lilikoi and Rella like to dress up as world famous Spameranians. They even have an acronym for the foodstuff that breaks down as Super, Pomtastic, Amazing, and Musubis!

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The weather outside might be frightful, but these pups are sure delightful.

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Christmas in Hawaii involves sand Santas!

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Two Poms in a bag that also features pictures of another six Pom pups is truly pomtastic, as Lilikoi and Rella would say.

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All blinged and bedazzled up but with nowhere to go!

Check out 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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Wed, 24 Dec 2014 06:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/pomeraniams-lilikoi-rella-cute-dog-pictures
<![CDATA[We Go Behind the Scenes at a "Hot Guys and Baby Animals" Photo Shoot]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/hot-guys-baby-animals-puppies-kittens-photos-pictures-calendar-shoot Any job gets old eventually, right? I mean, how many times can I cuddle a puppy in one hand while straightening the belt on a hot, topless man with the other before it just gets boring? Turns out, the answer is a lot. I've been directing Hot Guys and Baby Animals shoots for five years now, and it hasn't gotten old yet.

It hasn't gotten much easier either, since baby animals always bring chaos. Scratches, barking, and even some potty accidents are par for the course. And that's just the male models.

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Jason poses with Millie.

But after five calendars and three books, my partner Carolyn Newman and I have certainly learned what works well and what doesn't. We know what animals will look good with what models, we know what poses will look best. And we know that we have the best job ever.

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Cover of the 2015 calendar.

"Great, now cuddle that kitten a little closer to your chin. And, can you please take off your shirt." The sun is getting low in the Beverly Hills sky during the shoot for the 2015 calendar, and we're on our sixth hot guy/baby animal pair. We have an entire litter of kittens from Saving Grace rescue and a very patient model named Ronald. Having a whole litter is helpful, because that way we can trade one kitten out for another when the one we're using gets tired or too rambunctious.

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Ronald and Minky.

Part of the purpose of the calendar is to raise awareness and money for animal rescues and shelters. We always work with nonprofit animal organizations and then donate a portion of proceeds to help them continue their amazing work. Part of the fun of the shoots is meeting the founders, volunteers, and foster parents for shelters large and small. I always enjoy talking to these inspiring people who are devoted to finding forever homes for homeless puppies, kittens, and even bunnies. And they often enjoy talking to our male models.

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Shooting for "Hot Guys and Kittens."

We've made more than one love connection ... that is, love between a male model and a baby animal. One of our more inspiring success stories is from our very first calendar in 2010, when Mr. March ended up adopting the male Pit Bull puppy he posed with. And from our most recent shoot, we're pretty sure Leo ended up adopting one of these kittens.

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A page from "Hot Guys and Kittens."

People often ask where Carolyn and I came up with the idea. We've been best friends since junior high, and we've had so many jokes between us since. This was just another funny idea that the two of us thought of as a joke, but we actually decided to pursue it seriously. My dad, Eliot Khuner, is a very talented professional photographer, so choosing him to take all the photos was an easy decision. Since then, our family business has grown quite a bit. In addition to my dad, Carolyn, and me, our shoots are now attended by my husband, Wes (production assistant); my own rescued Schnauzer mix Rusty (makeup); Carolyn's rescued terrier, Lucy (craft services), and my one-year-old daughter, Mina (human resources). We have a number of friends who like to help out as well, often serving as animal wranglers or talent scouts.

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Mina enjoys her first shoot.

Though Carolyn and I are cofounders of the company, we fell quickly into roles that play to our strengths. Carolyn is the producer, and I direct. This means that Carolyn is often organizing puppies while on the phone with a male model who's lost. And I have a kitten in each hand while I'm explaining to a model how to hold a kitten to make him feel safe. The last thing we want is a furry little guy jumping out of a model's arms.

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Expert kitten handling.

Another question we're frequently asked is, where do you get your models? We find our guys from lots of sources. Most of our male models come from ads we post on modeling websites, but we've definitely picked up good-looking guys on the street before. At one point we had all of our girlfriends walking up to men at bars asking, "Have you ever modeled? Can I give you my card?"

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Carolyn and me, hard at work.

We usually shoot in Los Angeles, where many experienced and aspiring male models spend their time. Most are excited by the chance to work with animals. Both because it's fun, and because apparently it's a good shot to have in one's portfolio to show versatility. One thing I'll say about all of our models: They're great sports. It's not always easy to hold a rabbit in just the right way, or look at the camera for 20 minutes while we get a Bulldog puppy to do the same.

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Miguel poses with Moo.

The shoots usually last about three days, sunrise to sunset, and there is never a dull moment. We end each day bone-tired and brain-dead. But it all pays off in the end when we see our beautiful books and calendars on shelves and online, and we get reports of the joy that comes to the people who read them.

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A page out of the 2015 calendar.

Read more about dog photography:

About Audrey Khuner: A contradictory mix of cynicism and sentimentality, Audrey thinks wedding vows are cheesy, yet cries at almost every episode of This American Life. She enjoys walking in the rain with her eight-year-old furry baby, Rusty, and her one-year-old human baby, Mina. When she's not entertaining her little ones, Audrey works as a freelance writer and co-founder of Hot Guys and Baby Animals.

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Tue, 23 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/hot-guys-baby-animals-puppies-kittens-photos-pictures-calendar-shoot
<![CDATA[ Meet Hokulani the Pomeranian, a Pup Who Just Adores Christmas]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/hokulani-pomeranian-dog-santa-elf-costumes Hokulani is a dog totally obsessed with Christmas. Living it up on the sun-kissed Hawaiian island of Oahu, this Pomeranian sports her signature red goggles and holiday-themed outfits throughout the festive season. Here's your handy photo introduction to the world's biggest Christmas fan.

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(All photos courtesy of Hokulani's Facebook page)

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

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

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Hokulani is a true believer in ol' Saint Nick.

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

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Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and ... Hokulani?

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

Check out more great pictures of dogs:

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

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Thu, 18 Dec 2014 04:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/hokulani-pomeranian-dog-santa-elf-costumes
<![CDATA[10 Things I've Learned From Watching "Pit Bulls & Parolees"]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/pitbulls-parolees-animal-planet-tia-torres-animal-dog-rescue-adoption Animal Planet's Pit Bulls & Parolees is one of my favorite TV shows. I'm very into animal rescue, and I like the work that Tia Torres and her family do with the Villalobos Rescue Center. Recently, I realized that I've learned a number of important lessons while watching this series.

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The cast of Pit Bulls & Parolees. (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet.)

1. Life is hard

Okay, I already knew this, but sometimes it's easy to think life is harder for me than for other people. Everyone on Pit Bulls & Parolees has been through difficult things in life. And most of the rescued dogs have been through horrible experiences. This TV show does not avoid the reality that life has very challenging moments.

2. Rescue is best done as a family affair

Torres involves her children -- daughters Tania and Mariah and sons Kanani and Keli'i -- in her rescue work. They are key players in pulling off successful rescues, and each one has different talents and strengths.

3. Rescue is a way of life

There are those who see animal rescue as a way of life, not just a casual occurrence. This is clearly the case on Pit Bulls & Parolees. Tia and her family are working with the animals all day, every day. They carry the supplies they need in their vehicles and are always prepared to help an animal, whenever the situation arises.

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Torres enlists the help of her two daughters, Tania and Mariah, in the rescue work she does. (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet.)

4. Life doesn't always happen as planned

Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy to prevent me from really getting ahead financially. One thing I have seen on this show is that most people face a variety of unexpected challenges.

5. Even if you're famous and do good things, bad things can happen 

The thing that really drove this home for me was when Torres got really excited to move her rescue to Tehachapi, California. It was a special place she wanted to share with her dogs and family. But not long after she got there, her new neighbors objected to the rescue and basically forced them out. It's easy to think that famous people don't have to deal with challenges of this nature. It's not always an accurate assumption, though.

6. Yet, if you keep at it, things work out

Not knowing what else to do, Tia moved her rescue to New Orleans. Villalobos Rescue Center has been very successful in the city and has drawn a lot of attention to the numerous animals in need there. If Torres hadn't been forced out of her dream sanctuary, she would not have found the success she has in New Orleans and helped all of those dogs there.

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Mariah pulls puppies out of an abandoned house covered in mold. (Photo courtesy of Animal Planet.)

7.  Try your hardest every day

I don't doubt that Torres and her family members feel like there's simply too much work to do when they wake up every morning. But we see them working hard and giving it their all on a regular basis, like in the episode where Torres gives CPR to a little puppy who died in her arms as she tried to breathe life into him. As long as you try your hardest, that’s the best you can do. It's always better than doing nothing.

8. It takes many people to make a rescue successful

From those who call in reports of an animal in need, to those who transport animals, to the ones who clean kennels every day, many people are involved in making animal rescue a successful endeavor.

9. I really want Torres to write a memoir

Torres has lived a fascinating life. I hope one day she will write about it. She's raised at least four kids primarily on her own, started a rescue that has become one of the best known in the country, gets to wear a T-shirt and jeans to work every day, and has managed a marriage while her husband is incarcerated. Torres has guts and is not afraid to walk her own path. These are qualities I always admire.

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(Photo courtesy of the Pit Bull & Parolees Facebook page.)

10. Sometimes people -- and dogs -- need second chances

One of my favorite things about Pit Bulls & Parolees is that we get to witness second chances for both animals and people. I was once married to a felon, and I know how hard it can be for them to find legitimate work and housing, even years after a conviction. Torres gives those who need a second chance an opportunity to redeem themselves while doing work that is meaningful. I think one of my favorite moments from the show was seeing Earl become a homeowner. He is one of my favorites, and I have a soft spot in my heart for him. So it was great to see his years of hard work pay off!

Read related stories on Dogster:

About the author: Kezia Willingham is a Breadwinning Laundry Queen who works as a Health Coordinator for Head Start. She is a regular contributor to Catster and Dogster. Her writing has appeared in Literary Mama, The New York Times, The Seattle Times, and multiple anthologies. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family, which includes a number of rescued cats and dogs. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/pitbulls-parolees-animal-planet-tia-torres-animal-dog-rescue-adoption
<![CDATA[Boston Bruins 2015 Pucks & Pups Calendar Benefits Shelter Dogs]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/boston-bruins-dennis-seidenberg-2015-calendar-pucks-pups-hockey-mspca-shelter-dogs-adoption For the Boston Bruins, every day is about reaching the goal of winning the Stanley Cup. The goal of assisting Boston's homeless dog population has literally become a daily exercise for the team, as well.

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The Bruins recently released its second-annual Pucks & Pups calendar to raise money and awareness for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) and the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS).

The calendar, which features Bruins players posing with their own dogs or adoptable pups provided by the MSPCA's adoption centers, are available for $20 at Boston-area Reebok ProShops; at TD Garden, where the team plays its home games; and online.

"Dogs are just great companions," said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who appears in the 2014 and 2015 editions of the calendar with his 11-year-old Boxer, Wiggles, and two-year-old French Bulldog Bubbles Lollipop (named by his children). "No matter what is going on, they just want to love you, and they're great to have around to protect you. For us, the kids really appreciate our puppies and love to play with them, and it's a lot of fun to have them around."

All proceeds from the 2015 Pucks & Pups calendar, as well as from $30 limited-edition Boston Bruins collars and leashes, will benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation, with donations being made to the MSPCA and NEADS.

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The cover for the 2015 Boston Bruins 2015 Pucks and Pups calendar. (Photo courtesy of Boston Bruins; top photo courtesy of Brian Babineau.)

All 5,000 copies of the 2014 calendar sold out, with the overall campaign raising more than $120,000. The Bruins donated $30,000 directly to the MSPCA's adoption services program to care for homeless animals awaiting adoption, among the most significant single fundraising events for the MSCPA this past year.

"It is very few and far between -- a gift of $30,000 for the shelter fund," said MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin. "That is a significant amount of money, which cares for a lot of animals. That's really big for us. That pays for the medical and housing care needs for our animals at the shelters."

Among the players who posed for the 2015 calendar were Seidenberg, as well as several of his fellow 2011 Stanley Cup championship teammates, including defenseman Zdeno Chara, wingers Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, center Patrice Bergeron, and goaltender Tuukka Rask. Other players included Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, Adam McQuaid, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Torey Krug, and Chris Kelly. Bruins principal Charlie Jacobs, who has several rescue dogs himself, also participated. The photos used in the calendar were taken at TD Garden as well as in Boston's landmark neighborhoods.

Check out this behind-the-scenes video from one of the shoots:

"[The players] were so great," Halpin said. "We took the dogs down to the Garden for the shoot, and the players were so normal. They were regular guys who don't live regular, everyday lives, and they were kind to the animals. They were engaged. They asked questions about what we do. It was pretty sweet. They really put us at ease, and they put the dogs at ease. It was a very comfortable experience."

The benefits to the MSPCA extend beyond merely financial. Upon release of the 2014 calendar last November, its Animal Care and Adoption Centers saw an uptick in inquiries about adoptable dogs. Although the puppies featured in the 2014 calendar had already gone to their forever homes, the interest generated by their presence in the calendar led to a spike in adoptions overall.

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Dennis Seidenberg with Bubbles Lollipop the Frenchie and Wiggles the Boxer. (Photo courtesy of Brian Babineau.)

Halpin estimated that the three MSPCA shelters house upwards of 13,000 animals per year, with roughly 30 percent being dogs.

"The Bruins have their fleet of reporters and bloggers who are covering them and their every move, so to hitch the story of homeless animals and their plight in shelters to a media machine like the Bruins press corps was incredibly valuable to us," Halpin said. "It was that much more coverage for the MSPCA and the homeless animal shelter programs."

"People would call us asking about a dog [in the calendar], and we'd say, 'That dog was adopted two months ago, but come in because we have other dogs like them,'" he said. "And what happens is people come in looking for a dog that's now gone, but they leave with a dog they fell in love with while they were here. The calendar absolutely sparked more adoptions of dogs at our shelters."

This past June, Seidenberg toured the MPSCA-Angell Animal Care facility in Boston and presented the shelter with the check for $30,000.

"It was great. I never expected the shelter to be that nice and organized the way it was," the Bruins defenseman said. "It was a great facility, and the dogs seemed to be loving it. It was nice to be a part of it and helping out."

"It was just fun for our people," Halpin said. "We had a bunch of shelter workers here, and a bunch of our doctors at the hospital came over, and Dennis was so nice and spent time with them and signed their calendars. It's very rare that we have celebrities come and visit us. It sparked a lot of goodwill internally."

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Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, center in green, presented a check for $30,000 to the MSPCA-Angell Animal Care and Adoption Center in June. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Bruins.)

When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Seidenberg never got a chance to take the famous trophy home, so Wiggles was denied the opportunity to drink water and eat treats out of the bowl that adorns the top of hockey's greatest prize. All the more incentive, Seidenberg said, to bring the Cup back to Boston in 2015.

"Wiggles didn't get to see it, but we're trying really hard to get it back, and this time he'll get a chance to be a part of it," Seidenberg said.

Buy the 2015 Pucks & Pups calendar.

Meet more Dogster Heroes:

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, 05 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/boston-bruins-dennis-seidenberg-2015-calendar-pucks-pups-hockey-mspca-shelter-dogs-adoption
<![CDATA[Nicholas Sparks Talks About the Rescue Dogs in His Life and in His Books]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/nicholas-sparks-rescue-dogs-petsmart-charities-contest Nicholas Sparks has written some of the most popular love stories of our time, and he has woven very memorable canine characters into several of his best-sellers. More than half of his 17 novels, including The Notebook, also have been made into movies.

Soon, one lucky reader's real-life rescue pet will get to join the ranks of fictional dogs who have captured our hearts in Sparks' tales.

Through the "Fall Into a Nicholas Sparks Love Story Contest," in partnership with PetSmart Charities, the author is inviting readers to submit their adoption stories. The winning pet will make a cameo appearance in his next book.

Sparks took some time out from writing recently to answer questions about his own rescue dogs.

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Author Nicholas Sparks with his three rescue dogs. Photo by Sarah McGraw for PetSmart Charities.

Dogster: You have three rescue dogs in your family -- Bo, Boomer, and Susie. Can you tell us a little bit about each of their rescue stories?

Nicholas Sparks: We've been so lucky to adopt three of our dogs -- two we found at rescue shelters, and one we first found on the side of the road and eventually took in. Susie, our Shih Tzu mix, is incredibly sweet and very low-maintenance –- she loves to nap. Susie was two when she joined our family and was the first of our pets to be adopted. Our second dog, Boomer, had terrible heartworms in the shelter and was fighting for his life. We were able to adopt him when he was two or three years old and get them treated right away. Now, he's active and loves to swim. Finally, our mixed-breed Bo was about six months old when we first found him on the side of the road. He's great and has really bonded with my son Landon.

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Lucky Bo found a great home. Photo by Sarah McGraw for PetSmart Charities.

As the father of five kids, what lessons do you think the younger generation learns when a family adopts a rescue pet?

One of the rewarding parts of adopting dogs has definitely been what the experience has taught the kids. Caring for pets teaches responsibility, since kids need to help walk, feed, and clean the dogs. I also think that when a family adopts a rescue pet, kids are able to see firsthand the difference they can make in a pet's life. They are giving a pet a second chance at a loving home, and they realize they are making an impact on reducing the number of homeless pets in the world.

You've talked a lot about your German Shepherds, Rex and Lara, in the past. When you purchased Lara, she was already highly trained. How did adopting rescue dogs differ from that experience? What kind of challenges did your family face when adopting rescues?

As I mentioned, Boomer had terrible heartworms before we decided to adopt him. So, we dealt with some of his health challenges early on. But, he's stronger and happier than ever now and loves to go swimming in the lake by our house. Training rescues is similar to training any other dog -– it requires patience and practice.

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Now healthy, Boomer heads out for a swim. Photo by Sarah McGraw for PetSmart Charities.

You've said the character Zeus in The Lucky One was inspired by one of your own dogs, Rex. How much of the late Rex do we see reflected in Zeus? Are they different in any way?

The thing that both of them have in common, definitely, is their loyalty. Rex would often sit at my feet while I was writing, and he was just incredibly faithful, which is the dynamic I tried to recreate between Zeus and Logan Thibault in The Lucky One.

Many of the dogs in your books and your life are larger breeds. Did you ever picture yourself adopting a small dog like Susie?

It's funny that even though my family and I have been drawn to larger dog breeds, sometimes adopted pets pick us and not the other way around. Susie was one of those dogs. She is so sweet and easygoing. While we've always liked large dogs and have two larger dogs in our house currently, it doesn't mean we also don't like smaller breeds. I can't imagine our lives without Susie.

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Susie was the family's first adoptee. Photo by Sarah McGraw for PetSmart Charities.

The film adaptation of your novel The Choice is underway as the first independent feature film for your production company. One of the novel's protagonists is a veterinarian, and dogs play a big part in the plot. We've already seen some shots of the animal actors on social media. Are these dog actors what you imagined when writing Molly and Moby?

Yes, in that these two dogs are both incredibly loving and bring a real warmth to the set, just as I imagined Molly and Moby doing. That said, I must say that the dogs on set are better trained than almost any dog I've ever seen -- and my own dogs are quite well-trained! I guess even actor dogs have to be at the top of their game to make it in Hollywood!

On your website (in the Book FAQ for The Guardian) you wrote, "Also, it's worth noting that in American literature, as opposed to movies and television, the dog almost always dies." Why do dogs so often meet tragic ends in literature? And will the contest-winning pet have a happy ending to their cameo?

Well, I can't spoil the ending for my book -- but as for why dogs so often die in literature, I imagine it is just a reflection of life: Dogs have much shorter lives than people, and literature has never shied away from the harsher truths of the human experience. So often we take these dogs in and fall in love with them knowing that, most likely, we will outlive them.

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Boomer and Bo Sparks. Photo by Sarah McGraw for PetSmart Charities.

What will you be looking for in the story that wins this contest? Do you have any tips for contest entrants who will be writing their own love story?

I'm really looking for those unique, heartwarming adoption stories that can show why you fell in love with your adopted cat or dog and how they've made your life complete. A descriptive story, along with a high-quality photo of your pet, will make for a great entry.

Enter your pets' story with a photo and/or video before Dec. 14. The winner will be announced Jan. 12, 2015. The winning story will also be published on NicholasSparks.com, with an introduction written by Sparks. 

Read more celebrity interviews on Dogster:

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

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Wed, 03 Dec 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/nicholas-sparks-rescue-dogs-petsmart-charities-contest
<![CDATA[We Were on the Red Carpet at Fox's "Cause for Paws"!]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/fox-cause-for-paws-jerry-oconnell-kathy-griffin-amber-riley-david-arquette-kristin-chenoweth-hilary-swank-jane-lynch On Saturday, the stars came out to celebrate rescue pets and the joy they bring to our lives. Fox's Cause for Paws: An All-Star Dog Spectacular (previously titled the Great American Dog-a-Thon) taped at Santa Monica Airport, with the two-hour special scheduled to air on Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.

Dogster was on the red carpet to talk with the celebs about why they support rescue organizations -- and we also asked them what breed they would be if they were a dog, because why not!

Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romijn

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Jerry O' Connell and Bubbles. All photos by Wendy Newell unless noted.

"Rescue pets love you so much. We have a bunch at home. We are always fostering them. My wife is pretty intense about this," said O'Connell. "I come home, and there are more pets at home. I once left for a weekend -- I went on a golf trip with my guy friends -- and when I came back there were two cats in our house. I tried to claim I was allergic, but those cats are my best friends now. I love them. I sleep with them every night. I prefer to sleep with my cats more than my wife."

The actor said he resembles a Labrador most.

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Toby, a Chihuahua available for adoption, checks me out while his escort, Rebecca Romijn, stops to talk to another reporter.

Like many who attended, the actor and his wife, Rebecca Romijn, walked the red carpet with dogs available for adoption. O'Connell carried sweet senior Beagle mix Bubbles, and Romijn walked with Toby.

Kathy Griffin

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Kathy Griffin talks to the press.

"I've become a two-dog person, because when I got my first dog someone said two dogs are easier. I didn't believe them, and I was wrong. So now I have two dogs. They keep each other company, and they lift your spirits," said the comedian. "Rescue pets are voiceless, so we have to help them."

She claimed kinship with Irish Setters. An up-for-adoption German Shepard named Octavia, though, was the lucky pup to walk the red carpet with Griffin.

Michael Levitt

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Michael Levitt and his dog, Trooper.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about rescue dogs, and we know firsthand that rescue dogs are the most grateful," said the co-producer of Cause for Paws, who brought his dog, Trooper. "We know you can find purebreds in the shelter. There is no need to go to breeders or to pet stores. We want people to become part of the solution by rescuing a dog instead of being part of the problem by going to breeders and pets stores that have puppy mill dogs."

He picked Pit Bull as the breed he would be, because he said they are misunderstood and amazing.

Amber Riley

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Amber Riley and Ruby.

"I think it is important to use your platform to get the word out there, and this is a great organization," said the Glee star, who walked the red carpet with a Miniature Schnauzer named Ruby available for adoption. "I was really excited when they asked me to come down. I just want to talk to people about adopting pets rather than going to the store and buying pets. It's important to get dogs off of the street. These dogs need homes."

She sees herself as a Poodle, as they are "super clean but are still fun and extremely smart."

Richard and Nicholas Olate

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Richard and Nicholas Olate with their talented pups.

"My father has been training dogs for about 46 years now. Dogs pretty much rescued his life. It is very emotional for us to be able to help raise awareness for such a selfless act," said Nicholas Olate, part of the winning team of 2012's America's Got Talent. "My father was very poor, and he says he doesn't know if he rescued them or if they rescued him. If it wasn't for the dogs, he may never have made it out of poverty."

The younger Olate said he sees himself as a Jack Russell Terrier, because they are hyperactive, always moving, and always everywhere. His dad, on the other hand, would be a Poodle, which he described as smart, very mellow, and very loving.

David Arquette

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David Arquette and Poppa Bear. Photo courtesy Cause for Paws Facebook page.

"I have two rescue dogs. I'm here to raise awareness to the cause. They asked me and I was honored -- there are so many great people putting on this event," said the actor, who sees himself as similar to the breed of Poppa Bear, a rescue who he escorted down the red carpet, as they are both lazy, enjoy food, and are a little impatient.

Roselyn Sanchez

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Nikki waits patiently while Roselyn Sanchez talks to reporters.

"Senior dogs also need an opportunity. Everybody wants a puppy, everybody wants a baby. But there is something wonderful when you can say, 'I rescued a dog who is seven years old and nobody wanted her,'" said the actress, who walked the red carpet with a Dalmatian up for adoption named Nikki.

Paula Abdul

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Nicholas Olate poses with Paula Abdul.

"I'm a big advocate of dog rescue. Growing up we always rescued dogs. I have four Chihuahuas, and three of them are rescues," said the singer. "Rescuing is the greatest gift -- they become family members, they become so close, no different from children. My dogs are my kids."

Abdul escorted Sparky, a Chihuahua on wheels looking for a forever home, and said she would be a Saint Bernard.

Kristin Chenoweth

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Kristin Chenoweth and one of the many dogs up for adoption at the event. Photo courtesy Cause for Paws Facebook page.

"Dogs need homes, and everybody wants to be loved. Dogs don't choose whether they are born or not; they should be loved unconditionally" said Chenoweth, who added that she identifies most with the Maltese breed. 

Wendie Malick

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A cute puppy tried to tell Wendie Malick that he was done with the silly red carpet business.

"This show is so cool, and it is amazing it is on network television," the actress said. "People in this country have to know that there are way too many dogs we have to put down every year. There are dogs getting euthanized who are healthy. Every time you go to a pet store and think, 'What a cute little dog,' you don't understand the cost of that dog and how many dogs are already out there looking for love and waiting for you to come and find them."

Malick considers herself like a Shepherd mix.

MasterChef Junior contestants

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MasterChef Junior contestants and Iris.

The contestants of MasterChef Junior came by to show off Iris, a two-year-old Bichon up for adoption. Natalie Jawher, likely taking note of all the women's heels on the red carpet, said she would be a Dalmatian because they are tall, Sean Le favors a Bulldog because they are nice and relaxed, and Mitchell Vasquez said he matches best with a Lab mixed with Golden Retriever.

Hilary Swank

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Frankie, a Saint Bernard available for adoption, keeps an eye out for treats.

"I have been a longtime advocate for dogs, and I have seen firsthand how dogs have changed my life," said the co-host and co-producer of Cause for Paws. "I couldn't imagine my life without a dog. My dogs have enriched my life in so many ways. When I got involved and heard the statistics -- that eight million dogs are in shelters across the United States and four million sadly never make it out -- I thought what a great platform FOX gave us to get that word out."

She said she would be a mutt, "just like I am."

Swank co-hosted the event with Jane Lynch. The show featured inspiring as well as funny stories about rescue dogs, appearances by rescues turned viral-video stars, and games with dog and celebrity participants alike. All donations made before and during the airing on Thanksgiving night will go to the Petfinder Foundation. You can donate $10 anytime by texting DONATE to 50555 or visiting Cause for Paws online.

Read more about celebrities and dogs:

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Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/fox-cause-for-paws-jerry-oconnell-kathy-griffin-amber-riley-david-arquette-kristin-chenoweth-hilary-swank-jane-lynch
<![CDATA[We Talk to Katherine Heigl About Her Rescue Dogs and Shelter Advocacy]]> http://www.dogster.com/lifestyle/katherine-heigl-rescue-dogs-shelter-advocacy
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Katherine Heigl has been in the public spotlight for much of her life. Best known for TV series Grey’s Anatomy and the very funny movie Knocked Up, she now stars in State of Affairs, debuting tonight on NBC.

While you can read plenty about her personal life on celebrity-gossip websites, one aspect that doesn't get nearly enough attention is her animal rescue work. So I sat down to discuss that with her.

Dogster: When did your love of animals begin?

Katherine Heigl: I've always loved, respected, and cared deeply for animals. Our family always had animals, and I was born into a household of two dogs and two cats.

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Heigl and her dog Tamber. (Photo by Cheyenne Ellis)

Please tell us about your current pets.

I have eight dogs and three cats. Pi Piper (10-year-old Chow/Shepherd-mix rescue), Stella (14-year-old Schnauzer), Weezer (eight-year-old Schnoodle), Tamber and Flora (three-year-old sibling Shepherd-mix rescues), Oscar (six-year-old Potcake rescue from Mexico), and now a new little Boxer puppy named Baba, who was rescued with his whole litter when their mother died when they were three days old. Of course, there's Gertie, my constant companion, a 10-year-old Chi, who was rescued from an East Valley shelter. 

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Heigl with her dogs Gertie, Oscar, Tamber, and Piper. (Photo courtesy Katherine Heigl's Facebook page)

I also have three cats, all rescued from shelters: Stanley, Charlie, and Whiskey. They now live at my ranch in Utah and love it there. I also recently added one of the Sochi dogs, Billy Bean, to my group. BB loves the ranch in Utah.

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Heigl at home with her daughters, Naleigh and Adelaide, and their Chihuahua, Gertie. (Photo courtesy Katherine Heigl's Facebook page)

Tell us why you named your rescue foundation after your brother, Jason.

Jason influenced our family in every way possible. He was always looking out for and caring for the voiceless and the innocent. He really especially loved a big black Labrador we had named Ben Davis. When Jason was hospitalized for the week after his accident and died, Ben Davis ran away, and we all thought he was out looking for Jason. Finally, after about five days, we found him and brought him home. I believe he knew Jason was gone and missed him the whole rest of his life.

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Heigl stars in State of Affairs. (Photo courtesy NBC)

When we first fully realized the plight and terrible situation for so many companion animals in this country, we knew that we had to do all we could to stop this unnecessary killing of so many good, healthy animals. It was obvious to us that the foundation's work and purpose would enable Jason’s compassion and kindness to still go on even though he had died so young. So, of course, it became the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation and helps us honor the memory and the heart of a wonderful brother and son who we will always miss.

Why did you want to get involved with rescuing animals?

Along with my brother, having been around companion animals my whole life, I know their immense value in our lives, which a lot of studies have proven, and how individual and valuable each one of them is.

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Gertie the Chihuahua. (Photo courtesy Katherine Heigl's Facebook page)

Tell us a little about the Heigl Hounds of Hope.

When we started working with shelters in Southern California, we saw so many big dogs who just did not have a chance to make it out alive. Our existing transport program can generally just place the small ones, but we could not turn our backs on the others. So we take just a few special dogs each year who become Heigl Hounds.

They are usually dogs who need special help, whether it be medical, training, or otherwise. We have had bait dogs, dogs with advanced cancer who needed hospice, dogs disfigured by illness or abuse, dogs deemed aggressive who needed training. They stay with us until healed physically or mentally enough to go up for adoption.

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Heigl stars in State of Affairs. (Photo courtesy NBC)

Any advice to someone who is thinking of rescuing a shelter animal?

I want to encourage people to always adopt, big or small dogs. They are all wonderful companions and truly enrich our lives. Shelters are packed and many need to kill animals because there just is not enough space. These dogs are not being killed because of behavior problems.

Most people do not know that 25 percent of all the dogs who come into the shelter are purebreds. There are breed-specific rescues for every kind of dog and cat! And a lot of people think that the shelters are filled with used or otherwise undesirable dogs. That could not be further from the truth. The dogs and cats at shelters all deserve another chance to be loved and live!

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Heigl with her daughters. (Photo courtesy Katherine Heigl's Facebook page)

How can the general public get involved with the Jason Debus Heigl Foundation?

Anyone anywhere can do three amazing things to help animals: 1) Get your pets fixed, 2) adopt your next pet, and 3) help spread the word about the first two! If they are outside Southern California, they can donate to us or their local animal shelter. If they are in Southern California, we invite them to visit our site and become a foster, a dog walker, or get involved with our transport team.

What is the best thing about rescuing a dog?

When you choose to adopt a dog, you are not just saving that animal's life, you're also saving the dog who was never bred, the one who now has more time at the shelter to find a home, and, of course, the one you're taking home! I actually believe and have seen for myself that rescued animals are even more grateful to be with you and seem to know that you have saved them.

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Heigl loves animals. (Photo courtesy Katherine Heigl's Facebook page)

What have you learned from your pets?

That life can turn on a dime! My little furry (Gertie) was next on the list to be killed at a Los Angeles shelter. When we pulled her, she had no teeth and was underweight. Other rescues passed her up, but we saw a diamond in the rough. Now she eats eggs at the Four Seasons and travels in the plane with me wherever I go. Talk about keeping hope alive!

The best part of having animals in my life is just having animals in my life and home. They enrich our home with their unconditional love and loyalty. They bring laughter and fun with their individuality and special personalities. They help teach my children about caring for others, and help me to always remember the important things in life and that all life is a gift that we need to value. 

Anything else that you would like to share with us?

Just that we at JDHF are so grateful to all the people who recognize the value of our companion animals and are helping us to accomplish the goal we have set to stop the senseless killing of so many of these valuable beings.

Learn more about Heigl's rescue work by visiting jasonheiglfoundation.org and following her on Twitter and Instagram.

Read more from Brian Fischler:

About the author: Brian Fischler is a standup comedian and writer. He has been seen on The Today Show and Top Gear USA, and he was featured in Maxim Magazine as the Comedian of the Month. Fischler also runs Laugh For Sight, a bicoastal comedy benefit featuring the biggest names in comedy that come together to raise money and awareness for retinal degenerative eye disease research. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Mon, 17 Nov 2014 02:00:00 -0800 /lifestyle/katherine-heigl-rescue-dogs-shelter-advocacy