Seat belts for dogs? University students test out the idea with the help of NY State police

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A group of Clarkson University engineering students recently traveled to the New York State Police Troop B Barracks in Ray Brook, New York to conduct a dog seat belt safety test.

Experimental Methods in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering students Abigail Jacunski, Kristina Franklin and Hannah Orton were tasked with planning their own experiment, executing it and assessing the results.

Explaining the group’s motivation for choosing this topic, Jacunski stated, “There is not much about dog seat belts on the internet. Most of the dog seat belts that are out there haven’t actually been tested — they are just a way to restrain the dog in the car. We wanted to see what is the safest one for the dog.”

A substitute for an auto impact was an important part of this experiment. The solution was the “Seat Belt Convincer,” a device the New York State Troopers use to simulate a low speed auto collision. A car seat with a harness is attached to a ramp and allowed to slide down and impact the padded lower end of the incline.

The students needed a crash test dummy so they purchased stuffed animal dogs and filled them with sand to get closer to the weight of a real dog.

“They designed instrumentation and control circuits to be able to measure the dogs in an impact…and then hopefully identify certain configurations of the harness to be able to tell what’s safe and what’s not safe for the dogs,” explained Dr. Carl Hoover, the course professor.

The results will be put together into a scholarly paper.

Clarkson engineering students in Hoover’s class are encouraged to explore experimental projects that positively impact society, the economy or the environment. Students propose engineering tests based on their own ideas for broader impacts. They develop a formal test plan around a key question, write a procedure, choose measurement techniques, select test equipment, and analyze test data.

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How bad are fleas in your area? You can check a flea forecast to find out

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Just posting this story made me a little itchy, but, when it comes to most pets, discussing fleas is a necessary evil.

According to a press release from the Companion Animal Parasite Council, fleas are one of the most common external parasites in dogs and cats, and are more serious than most people realize with the potential to cause serious harm to the health of pets and their owners.

Also according to the release, in its mission to monitor and report emerging threats to companion animals, CAPC developed the Flea Forecasts to alert pet owners of flea activity in their local communities. These forecast maps are updated daily, based on environmental conditions, and can be found at

The CAPC Pet Parasite Forecast Maps are a collaborative effort from parasitologists and statisticians in leading academic institutions across the United States who engage in ongoing research and data interpretation to better understand and monitor vector-borne disease agent transmission and changing life cycles of parasites. The forecasts are based on many factors including temperature, precipitation and population density.

Flea activity will continue to increase as summer temperatures rise. These pesky pests are often a primary reason for veterinary visits. Fleas cause skin issues in pets, creating a lot of distress for them and their owners. The red, flaky skin caused by allergic reactions to fleas makes pets less cuddly and everyone is miserable.

Cats sleeping on your pillow or dogs snuggling in your bed can leaving behind flea eggs, flea maggots, and flea feces and that can, in turn, result in pets being banished from areas where their family members spend the most time.

Fleas may carry and transmit other dangerous diseases or parasites that affect pets, including Dipylidium caninum, a type of tapeworm and “Cat Scratch Fever.” This disease can infect both dogs and cats, as well as transmitted to humans when a cat carrying infected fleas scratches or bites a person. Although the symptoms are generally mild in humans, some people develop serious complications and require more rigorous treatment.

Keep calm and use preventative medication

The nonprofit Companion Animal Parasite Council stresses that year-round control is the best way to protect our pets from fleas and other harmful parasites and notes that it is important to keep all pets in a household on year-round flea preventive medication to prevent infestations. Pet owners should talk to their local veterinarian about the best method of prevention for their situations.

CAPC also encourages pet owners and veterinarians to regularly consult the Flea Forecasts at

To view the daily Flea Forecast, as well as the 30-Day Pet Parasite Forecast Maps that covers four parasitic diseases (Heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis), visit

More about CAPC and Pet Disease Alerts:

Pet Disease Alerts ( is a nonprofit focused on alerting pet owners to the threat of pet diseases in their local areas. The Companion Animal Parasite Council ( is an independent not-for-profit foundation comprised of parasitologists, veterinarians, medical, public health and other professionals that provides information for the optimal control of internal and external parasites that threaten the health of pets and people.


My review of Siberian Husky Dog Marionette

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If you’re a dog lover and spend any time on, you might come across the product that I’m reviewing. It’s a “Siberian Husky Dog Marionette Yarn Puppet.”

My grandson used to have a really cute dinosaur marionette that he loved. But he grabbed it one time and it got massively tangled up — and that was the end of marionettes for a while. Now that he’s a little older (he turned 5 in February), I thought it would be fun to try another one. I did a little searching on Amazon and came across pictures of the adorable husky marionette. I paid $18 and some change for this product and was excited for it to be delivered.

A few days later it arrived and, upon taking it out of the box, my first thought was that it was smaller than I expected. If you’ve read reviews of other animal-related products that I have written, you know that I’m pretty careful to check the size of things I order now because, in the past, multiple things I have ordered on Amazon have turned out to be smaller than expected based on what was shown in the picture(s).

Before ordering the marionette, I read a few reviews from customers on Amazon, most of whom seemed to be happy with their purchase, and also looked at a few pictures submitted by reviewers. The dog definitely seemed smaller than it did in the product pictures, about half as small. So I thought I was prepared, but, in person, the dog seemed maybe an inch or so smaller than it had even appeared in buyer’s photos.

husky dog marionette

Shown next to my hand to help give an idea of actual size.


My second impression was that the dog has an adorable face in person, just as it did in the pictures on Amazon. I think Husky lovers especially will be drawn to how cute it is.

My grandson was standing right there and I showed him the new marionette, which he immediately wanted to touch. As he did, I realized the body of the dog is made out of what seem to be loose pompoms of yarn. The pictures I had seen had given me the impression that the body would be more like a firm, yarn-covered stuffed animal. The result is that the body of the dog is really delicate. I don’t think it would last very long as a toy for my grandson or for any child. In fact, when I went back and read some of the one-star  reviews on Amazon, which I hadn’t done before, I noticed that someone had written that their children had pretty much destroyed theirs in about an hour.

husky marionette lying down

Up close look at the body of the marionette.

It is also pretty difficult to make its arms and legs move using the crossbar. With other marionettes I have had, their movement has been much more lifelike and natural with very little manipulation of the crossbar, but sitting and laying down were the only two movements that seemed fairly easy to get this little guy to do. He might work in a puppet show in which a dog plays a small part that mostly involves standing or sitting, but would likely be frustrating to work with beyond that since the legs just kind of hang from bars under the yarn.

I’ve decided that this marionette, which is now hanging in my bedroom will be basically just for display as a cute decorative item.

My overall opinion is that the adorable factor for this marionette is very high, but functionality is lower than expected. Given his size and how fragile he is, I’d say the price of this product should probably be lowered by at least five dollars and marketed more as a decorative item than a plaything.

Mystery novel features crime-solving dog; My review of ‘Dog’s Honest Truth’

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I just finished reading “Dog’s Honest Truth,” a mystery novel with a human and dog detective team.

The book, by Neil S. Plakcy, is the 14th in the Golden Retriever Mysteries. Full disclosure: I read the book to review it after seeing an announcement about the book’s release by the author in a dog writer’s group that I belong to. I think it’s important to make that clear because one thing that definitely impressed me was how, throughout the book, the author gave potentially new readers, such as myself, background info about the main characters with just enough detail to fill in some possible blanks, but not so much that it slowed down the plot.

The main character of the book is Steve, a former computer hacker, who now puts his computer skills to use by helping a police detective solve crimes in their hometown of Stewart’s Crossing, Pennsylvania. The book starts out with a cozy scene in Steve‘s kitchen while he and girlfriend Lili make dinner with dog, Rochester, by their side.

The coziness and the small town where they live (which, as described by the author reminds me of the town in Pennsylvania where I lived while in college) make one wonder what could possibly go wrong — until a new neighbor of Steve’s is shot in cold blood during a local event.

There aren’t a lot of clues to go by, but the murdered neighbor apparently made a living by using computers to mine bitcoin, so Steve’s computer background comes in handy when Rick enlists him to help find the killer(s).

There are some characters who could be possible suspects and the book is filled with lots of twists and turns. As another disclosure (or to tell you the dog’s honest truth), I’m actually not a big reader of murder mysteries. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The suspense kept me interested and I was truly surprised to find out why Steve’s neighbor, George, was shot and by whom.

Along the way, Rochester, Steve’s loyal and furry companion, helps Steve find important clues. The dog does this in a subtle way that doesn’t indicate he has doggy superpowers or anything, just a good ability to sniff out things that don’t seem right or appear significant and communicate it to Steve in various ways. For example:

“I looked at Rochester, who had stretched far enough to knock
some mail off a low table with his long, plumey tail. I picked them up and realized that the answers to my questions were not online, but instead in George’s email.”

Although not the main purpose of the book, the author also does a good job of describing what bitcoin is and what mining it means. Plakcy  does so in a way that didn’t make me feel sleepy or stupid as I often do when people start discussing technology currency.

There is an interesting subplot involving Steve’s work as an adjunct at a university and a student who gets caught writing a paper for a student at another university.

In addition, there’s an exploration of the emotional bond between human and dog not just with Rochester, but via a dog named Luke. George had been training a service dog named Luke before he was killed, and Steve is suddenly charged with finding out what Luke’s future will be. Steve becomes quite fond of the obedient pup and isn’t sure he even wants to give him up, although he knows the dog needs to continue with his service dog training. This is an interesting angle that, according to the author’s comments on, was inspired by a book that he had edited called “Paws and Reflect”:

“One of the contributors wrote about his experience training puppies who would go on to become seeing eye dogs. I was fascinated not only by the work that these volunteers do, but about the idea  — could I give up a puppy I had fallen in love with, so that he could go on to do the job he was meant to do?”

Speaking of the author’s previous work, Plakcy is no stranger to writing or mysteries, having written over fifty mystery and romance novels.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes mysteries and/or dogs and who is looking for a fairly quick and engaging read.

“Dog’s Honest Truth” is available in Kindle, paperback and audiobook forms on Amazon.

Note: As an Amazon affiliate, I make a commission off of qualifying purchases.

New documentary shows rare footage of anti-poaching dog’s journey to protect rhinos

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Dogs 4 Wildlife and Tigzozo Media have released a new documentary film, ‘The rise of Shinga,’ showing rare footage of an anti-poaching dog’s journey from Wales to saving endangered wildlife in Zimbabwe.

According to a press release, the new documentary film shares the story of Shinga the dog’s journey to Imire Rhino and Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe as a special collaboration between Tigzozo Media, Dogs 4 Wildlife, Pro Dog Raw, and Imire, Zimbabwe.

The film follows Belgian Malinois Shinga’s journey from Wales in the UK to Zimbabwe, Africa.  The film gives insight into Shinga’s new life in Zimbabwe and the reality of the ongoing poaching epidemic across Southern Africa.

The film is brief — 9-minutes — but shows Shinga fitting in with her new team at Imire, joining 3-year-old dog Murwi at the reserve.

Imire Rhino and Wildlife Sanctuary, Wedza, Zimbabwe is 4,500 hectares of diverse wildlife, including black and white rhinos, elephants and buffalo. The reserve focuses on community- and educationally-led conservation, supporting the wider population of the ‘Shona’ people, one of the main tribes in Zimbabwe. Murwi in the Shona language means ‘Warrior’ and Shinga is Shona for ‘Brave’

Last year, a total of 451 rhinos were poached in South Africa. 327 within government reserves and 124 on private property. Anti-poaching dogs help reduce incidents of poaching by as much as 75%.

Darren Priddle, Co-Founder, and Director of Dogs 4 Wildlife, said in the press release: “Shinga is such an incredible dog, and is already proving to be such an asset to Imire’s ongoing conservation efforts.

Fellow Director Jacqui Law added: “Deploying Shinga to work alongside Murwi at Imire was such a special moment, they will make a formidable team.

Tigzozo Media, which shot the documentary film is owned by Kudzai Tinago who lives in Harare, Zimbabwe. Kudzai shot the entire film on his own with his camera equipment following the team and Shinga around for her first few days of deployment. He did all of his work for free to help support the efforts of Dogs 4 Wildlife.

For more information please visit: or email

The documentary can be viewed at:

 Featured image caption: Not for Profit organisation, Dogs 4 Wildlife have released a powerful new documentary film,  sharing the story of Anti-poaching dog Shinga’s journey to Imire Rhino and Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe



Tips for finding a pet sitter

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With summer travel back on many people’s agenda, Pet Sitters International (PSI) is offering pet parents a few tips for securing a true professional to watch their pets while they are away, according to a press release.

Start the search early:

“Professional pet sitters have welcomed an increase in demand as more people begin traveling again, so pet parents should make finding a professional pet sitter one of the first items on their travel checklist,” said PSI President Beth Stultz-Hairston in the press release. “But if they find that their preferred pet sitter isn’t available, pet parents shouldn’t panic—many professional pet sitters are happy to provide referrals to other local businesses who may have availability for the travelers’ preferred dates.”

Make time for a meet and greet:

PSI advises pet parents to schedule a “meet and greet” or “initial consultation” at their home before booking pet-care services. This meeting provides an opportunity to see the sitter interact with their pets, and review their services and credentials.

“You may be in a rush to finalize your travel plans, but we advise pet parents to never ‘cut corners’ when it comes to booking pet care,” said PSI Founder and CEO Patti Moran. “Not everyone who lists their services on a website or app is a true professional, and you owe it to yourself—and your pets—to select a local professional pet sitter with the business credentials and pet-care training to provide exceptional care.”

Check out a pet-sitter checklist:

Pet parents can download a free Pet-Sitter Interview Checklist, which includes seven important questions every pet parent should ask, including whether the company is insured and bonded, and whether the pet sitter can provide references from previous clients.

To learn more about PSI or to locate a professional pet sitter in your area, you can visit

How to create a great backyard for your dog

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Kris Kiser, President of the TurfMutt Foundation, an organization that advocates for the care for and use of green spaces, as well as pet rescue, relates that the backyard is her dog’s favorite place to be.


Via a press release, Kiser and her rescue dog, Mulligan, have advice for creating a dream yard for pets as well as the whole family this summer:

Select the Right Plants and Grasses 
Choosing a type of turf grass that will withstand the “ruff” housing of your pets is important. Buffalo and Bermuda grasses can be a good choice, depending on your climate zone.

For other plants and shrubs, check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic garden plants for advice before planting.

Soft, sturdy foliage near walkways works well, as does keeping delicate, decorative flowers in elevated flowerbeds and patio pots.

Birds, butterflies and bees help pollinate food crops and flowering plants, so take them into consideration, too, when you’re selecting backyard plants.

Plan for Fun and Relaxation
Add a splash pool, build a sandbox for digging, and even consider creating a canine obstacle course to provide hours of fun.

After a day of play, your dog will need a place to relax. Trees or bushes that provide shade for snoozing can be a good option.

Click on the following link to Mutt Mail, a monthly e-newsletter for more backyarding tips and news from the TurfMutt Foundation.

You can also visit the company’s website at

About TurfMutt

TurfMutt was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) TurfMutt Foundation and has reached more than 70 million children, educators and families since 2009. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.”

SOURCE TurfMutt Foundation


Company releases list of top five hotels with best pet policies

Reading Time: < 1 minute’s recently released their choices for the top five hotels with the best pet policies.

The list is part of the Summer 2022 Hotel Pet Policy Guide, which includes pet policies at nearly 150 hotel chains across the U.S. and Canada., which has been advising pet owners on travel since 2009, researched hotel pet policies and ranked them, based on the criteria most important to pet owners, such as affordable pet fees and how many pets are permitted in a room.

The overwhelming winner as the Best Hotel Chain for Traveling with Pets is Kimpton Hotels, part of IHG.

Four other chains topped’s list:

1. Best Western Hotel Group, which charges a pet fee per room instead of per pet.

2. Red Roof Inn allows pets to stay for free.

3. Drury Hotels has a very clear and comprehensive hotel pet policy.

4. Extended Stay Suites provides a standard pet policy across all their locations. also researched hotel chains in the U.S. and Canada to determine their pet policies to include in the guide so travelers can search for information about their favorite hotel and each chains’ rewards programs.

Visit… to view the guide and see expert travel tips, reviews and resources for how to enjoy travel with your favorite furry friend.


Found Spaniel painting fetches over a quarter of a million dollars

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A Black and White Spaniel Pointing by George Stubbs that had been considered lost recently sold for £252,300 (about $300,702).

The painting was sold at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on July 6, according to a press release.

“Although Stubbs made his name as a painter of horses for the grandees of racing and horse breeding, he developed an equally lucrative career as a painter of dogs – often as commissions from the aristocratic owners of the horses,” explained Lisa Greaves, Bonhams Head of Old Master Paintings, in the release.

Featured photo from

Bark releases limited edition Jurassic World subscription boxes

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In collaboration with the movie “Jurassic World Dominion,” which was released in June, Bark is offering new and current subscribers of BarkBox, the option of Jurassic World boxes while supplies last.
BarkBox is a monthly themed surprise of dog toys, treats and chews, and BARK Super Chewer® is a monthly subscription box for dogs who play tough.
From Ankylosaurus to Velociraptor, BARK spared no expense to re-imagine characters, including Beta and Dr. Ian Malcolm, as the perfect prehistoric playmate for dogs.


In addition to the Jurassic Park theme, Bark also features other themes, including July’s “Pool Party Animals,” as well as “Stranger Things,” and “Boops ‘N Scoops.”

 To learn more about BarkBox and BARK Super Chewer, visit .