Posted: November 15th, 2011 | Author: admin | Filed under: Dogs in the News | Tags: book, CBS, dog, dogs, Elephant, Elephant Sanctuary, food, rescue, stray, video | No Comments »
In early 2009 just as I started this blog and my book, The Complete Single’s Guide to Being A Dog Owner, was about to come out, my beloved dog Bella was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.
It’s no wonder that so many of my early posts were about her battle and my loss. As a result of putting my experiences with Bella out there, I have been lucky enough to connect with other dog owners struggling with the loss or pending loss of a best friend. And while lucky sounds like an odd word to associate with that statement, I do feel lucky because people have shared with me the most wonderful stories of the love that they have for their dogs.
There is of course profound sadness that comes with the territory; I have often found myself sobbing about dogs I have never even laid eyes on but it’s worth it to be able to connect to the pure love we humans can share with a dog. It’s a beautiful if not painful thing, and apparently we are not alone in our ability to connect to man (and woman’s) best friend…
So while I can’t pretend to know what an elephant thinks or feels on most days, I think I can imagine what Tarra, an elephant living at in a Tennessee sanctuary, is feeling today.
You may remember Tarra from the news a while back. She is the rescue elephant who befriend a stray dog almost a decade ago. The two were inseparable and were such an incredible story that CBS news profiled them in 2009.
Unfortunately their story took a sad turn this week…
For nearly a decade, Tarra had been best friends with a dog named Bella, a mutt who wandered onto the sanctuary grounds and into the heart of the gentle giant. Tarra clearly loved her little dog and Bella obviously bonded right back.
They were so close, in fact, that when Bella got injured a few years ago and had to spend three weeks recuperating in the sanctuary office, guess who held vigil the entire time? Twenty-two hundred acres to roam free, and Tarra just stood in the corner waiting. Home video of their reunion shows how inseparable they’d become and remained, right to the end.
Last week, sanctuary workers found Bella’s body. By all indications she’d been attacked by coyotes. Whether Tarra witnessed it, tried to intervene or was too late – no one knows. All they do know is that where they found Bella is not where she was attacked.
“When I looked around and saw there was no signs of an attack here. No blood, no tuffs of hair, nothing,” said director of elephant husbandry, Steve Smith. “And Tarra, on the underside of her trunk, had blood – as if she picked up the body.
Tarra moved her?
“Tarra moved her,” Smith said.
Steve’s theory is Tarra carried Bella possibly a mile or more to bring her home.
Whether it really happened that way or not, no one doubts Tarra was that devoted.
“There’s nothing we can do to take away her pain,” said Atkinson. “The only ones who can help now are the elephants. And that is already happening.”
Atkinson said the elephants are “stepping in and stepping up.” He said they’re spending more time with Tarra and being extra nice – making gestures like giving her a portion of their food.
Of course, anyone who’s lost a dog knows you can’t eat your way out of the grief – as much we might try — but still nice to know at least Tarra’s not alone in this.
It’s also nice to see that compassion is much more than just human.
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Posted: October 7th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Hollywood Dog, Uncategorized | Tags: autism and dogs, book, dog, Labradors, rescue | No Comments »
Exploring the Health Benefits of Pets
from the New York Times October 5, 2009
Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times
INTERACTION Tommy Conforti, a cancer patient, and Lady, a therapy dog.
By CARLA BARANAUCKAS
When Chad, a yellow Labrador retriever, moved in with Claire Vaccaro’s family in Manhattan last spring, he already had an important role. As an autism service dog, he was joining the family to help protect Ms. Vaccaro’s 11-year-old son, Milo — especially in public, where he often had tantrums or tried to run away.
Like many companion animals, whether service dogs or pets, Chad had an immediate effect — the kind of effect that is noticeable but has yet to be fully understood through scientific study. And it went beyond the tether that connects dog and boy in public.
“Within, I would say, a week, I noticed enormous changes,” Ms. Vaccaro said of Milo, whose autism impairs his ability to communicate and form social bonds. “More and more changes have happened over the months as their bond has grown. He’s much calmer. He can concentrate for much longer periods of time. It’s almost like a cloud has lifted.”
Dr. Melissa A. Nishawala, clinical director of the autism-spectrum service at the Child Study Center at New York University, said she saw “a prominent and noticeable change” in Milo, even though the dog just sat quietly in the room. “He started to give me narratives in a way he never did,” she said, adding that most of them were about the dog.
The changes have been so profound that Ms. Vaccaro and Dr. Nishawala are starting to talk about weaning Milo from some of his medication.
Anecdotes abound on the benefits of companion animals — whether service and therapy animals or family pets — on human health. But in-depth studies have been rare. Now the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, part of the National Institutes of Health, is embarking on an effort to study whether these animals can have a tangible effect on children’s well-being.
In partnership with the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in England (part of the Mars candy and pet food company), the child health institute is seeking proposals that “focus on the interaction between humans and animals.” In particular, it is looking for studies on how these interactions affect typical development and health, and whether they have therapeutic and public-health benefits. It also invites applications for studies that “address why relationships with pets are more important to some children than to others” and that “explore the quality of child-pet relationships, noting variability of human-animal relationships within a family.”
The national institutes’ interest in this type of research goes back at least two decades. Valerie Maholmes, who directs research on child development and behavior at the children’s health institute, said that at a broad-ranging meeting in 1987 on the health benefits of pets, the N.I.H. “concluded that there needed to be much more research,” especially on child development.
Other sessions confirmed the need for research, but most studies focused on negative interactions, like the ways pets could spread disease, said James A. Griffin, the institute’s deputy chief of child development and behavior.
Meanwhile, the Waltham Center was expanding its own research to do some small studies about human-animal interaction, said Catherine E. Woteki, global director of scientific affairs for Mars Inc. “We are a pet food company and pet care company,” Dr. Woteki said, “and we’re interested in seeing that that relationship stays a strong one.”
Reviews of the Waltham research program indicated that larger studies over longer terms with appropriate control groups were needed. When Mars became aware of the institutes’ interest in this type of research, a public-private partnership was established, with the company committing more than $2 million. The National Institute of Nursing is also providing money.
Peggy McCardle, chief of the institutes’ child development and behavior branch, said the money from Mars helped jump-start the efforts. Dr. McCardle added that the N.I.H. had established protocols for public-private partnerships and that all proposals got two levels of review before being approved.
People working with animals expect the research to back up their observations. At Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Southern California, for instance, dozens of volunteers regularly take their dogs to visit patients. Children being treated for serious illnesses often have the blues, anxiety or depression. “The dogs brighten them up,” said Emily Grankowski, who oversees the pet therapy program at the hospital.
Some patients who have refused to speak will talk to the dogs, she said, and others who have refused to move often reach for the dogs so they can pet them. So the animals become part of the therapeutic program, especially in the areas involving speech and movement.
“The human-animal bond bypasses the intellect and goes straight to the heart and emotions and nurtures us in ways that nothing else can,” said Karin Winegar, whose book “Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform” (Da Capo, 2008) chronicles human-animal interactions. “We’ve seen this from coast to coast, whether it’s disabled children at a riding center in California or a nursing home in Minnesota, where a woman with Alzheimer’s could not recognize her husband but she could recognize their beloved dog.”
Such observations are not new at Autism Service Dogs of America, which brought Milo and Chad together. “Many children with autism can’t relate to a human,” said its director, Pris Taylor, “but they can relate to a dog.”
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Posted: June 17th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner | Tags: book, dog, Dog Fancy, dogs, inspiration, Labradors, rescue | 1 Comment »
I couldn’t be happier! Read this great article from dogchannel.com; it’s the website for Dog Fancy Magazine!
Advice for the Single Dog Owner
Author Betsy Rosenfeld offers a guide to living and dating with a dog.
By Katy French
Posted: June 17, 2009, 5 a.m. EDT
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Betsy Rosenfeld knows a thing or two about being a single dog owner. Her Labrador Retriever mix Bella lived with her in four cities, through five boyfriends and plenty of adventures. So when it came time for Rosenfeld to give advice to all the single ladies – and men – in her new book, “The Complete Single’s Guide to Being a Dog Owner,” she had plenty of inspiration.
“I wanted to write something to help others learn from my mistakes,” Rosenfeld says.
Rosenfeld found Bella as a stray and knew that though living with a dog can be challenging, taking care of a dog alone is especially difficult. Rushing home after work and forking over cash for vaccinations instead of a new pair of shoes is a major lifestyle change. Rosenfeld says singles seeking the companionship of a dog often underestimate the commitment required.
“If I can prevent one dog from ending up in a shelter, it’s all worth it,” she says.
In the book, Rosenfeld draws from her experiences both as a single owner and an active member of the animal-rescue community to create a comprehensive guide to getting, caring for, living and even dating with a dog. A longtime animal lover, Rosenfeld has rescued more than 200 dogs and seen many dogs given up because of the owner’s poor decisions.
“I don’t want to discourage people from getting a dog,” Rosenfeld says. “But I want people to realistic about what that entails.”
Singles have a particularly unique challenge as the sole caretakers of their pets. Therefore, she encourages potential owners to seriously think about what they will be getting themselves into by thoroughly researching a breed and considering the financial obligations and the emotional energy they are willing to extend. The book covers everything from finding a dog, training and vet visits to diet and exercise, building a bond and traveling.
But while much of that may seem overwhelming, Rosenfeld feels that having a dog can greatly benefit a single’s life. “We live in a tough world: The economy is tough, work is tough, but dogs are a source of unending, unconditional love in a world that isn’t always so nice.”
A dog can also complement a single’s lifestyle, and even help their personal life. “It’s a great booster for your self-esteem, a great way to get out in the world, walk, exercise, and be social,” she says.
Even when it comes to the inevitable issue of dating with a dog, a difficulty singles may face, Rosenfeld says they can actually help. The way a date treats your dog – or your dog reacts to them – can be an excellent indication of their character. And when it comes to the more technical details, Rosenfeld’s book offers useful tips like purchasing a pattern of sheets that will help you disguise your best friend’s hair from your new bedmate.
But most of all, Rosenfeld believes that being a single dog owner encourages personal growth. Her own dog taught her a lot about being responsible.
“I learned how to take care of myself by taking care of her,” she says.
Raising Bella also gave her confidence in her ability to have a meaningful relationship. “There’s nothing better than being your dog’s only owner,” Rosenfeld says. “I think the bond that develops between one person and one dog is so strong.”
Though Bella has since passed, Rosenfeld now enjoys spending time with her rescued Labrador Retriever Ranger. You can read more about her rescue efforts at her blog, LoveThyDog.com
“The Complete Single’s Guide to Being a Dog Owner” is on sale now.
Katy French is the assistant editor of DOG FANCY.
Posted: June 14th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Dog Lifestyle | Tags: book, dog, dogs, jim hosney, PENN | 3 Comments »
Betsy Rosenfeld Class of 1995'ish
I went back to visit my alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania last week and in the few short hours I was there, I had one of those “DUH” realizations. That just makes you kind of laugh at yourself that you have missed such an obvious truth for so long. In this case, it was my truth that I love dogs, and how much their sheer presence impacts me.
I was not exactly a good student in college. I worked harder at not studying than I would have had to if I had just done the assigned work. But truly, I kind of hated the school part of school. Sitting still, reading endless pages of meaningless (or what I assumed would have been meaningless as I didn’t read them) assigned texts and writing papers in stodgy academic speak… YUCK. Instead I concentrated on boys, parties, and manipulating the PENN educational system to my benefit…who else turned 3 weeks in Greece and Turkey (including 5 days on a cruise) into 2 classes-worth of credits.
In the midst of this mire of academic waste, sorry mom and dad, a few classes do stand out… European Film… it reminded me of my high school film class at Crossroads, and my favorite teacher Jim Hosney. Women in Film because I dated my T.A. (technically after I turned in my last paper but I did get an A-) and finally a Communication class my senior year about First Amendment and Free Speech.
I always think of that class as a time when I actually did the assigned reading and participated in class. (As an aside, Elizabeth Banks was also in that class.) While I happen to now work for a first amendment scholar (Tracy Westen at the Center for Governmental Studies www.cgs.org) it doesn’t have much to with my later use of the material. To tell you truth I kind of never thought much about why I decided to pay attention in that class, that is not until last week’s visit to PENN when I felt compelled to seek out the professor of that class. Dr. Carolyn Marvin did I finally make the connection.
Over coffee, I showed her my book and we talked about what I’d been doing for the last (gasp) 14 years.
If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering what the hell this has to do with my love of dogs. Well, Dr. Marvin aside from being an amazingly dynamic woman with a fantastic southern accent and a sassy attitude who taught an amazing class, she had a German Shepherd named Megan that came to class each week.
I of course remembered Megan fondly– she was an older shepherd girl with a fluffy coat belly made for tummy rubs—however it wasn’t until Dr. Marvin jokingly suggested that maybe it was Megan that helped me concentrate in her class that I made the connection.
Could it be that having a Megan in class pushed things over the top for me? Could being able to pet her while listening to a lecture, or give her a quick pat before taking a test have put me at ease and lessened the stress of school for me enough that I got past my otherwise ADD approach to school?
Just as dogs just have a calming presence for heart patients, for me, the presence of a dog can make you, or at least me, go above and beyond where I might have otherwise stopped. And nothing is a better testament to that than my book, The Complete Single’s Guide to Being A Dog Owner.
The Complete Single's Guide to Being A Dog Owner
For a girl who would have an anxiety attack about writing a 1000 word paper in school, I turned in the equivalent of 183 such papers when turning in my manuscript. And they were good papers too!
So I guess the moral of this little story is for the love of a good dog you can do almost anything!
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Posted: May 26th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner | Tags: betsy rosenfeld, book, book trailer, dog, dog rescue stories, Hollywood Dog, IFAW, rescue | 2 Comments »
I am so happy to present this amazing book trailer! Check it out and take a walk down memory lane with me…
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Posted: May 12th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Add new tag, betsy rosenfeld, book, dog rescue, dog rescue stories, dogs, Los Angeles, The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner | No Comments »
Take a look at the trailer for my new book, The Complete Single’s Guide To Being A Dog Owner!
Pass it on!
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Posted: May 8th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Hollywood Dog | Tags: Bitch New York, book, dog, dogs, Hollywood dog stoties, Jason Priestly, mastiff, puppy, rescue, Scott Baio | No Comments »
I spent the day at the Dog & Baby Buffet checking out all the latest and greatest in luxury Dog and Baby Products, not to mention the stars! There were a bevy, but the highlight (for me as a child of the 80′s) was Jason Priestly and Scott Baio. Scott was there for the whole day as a portion of the proceeds from the event go to his foundation, The Bailey Baio Foundation
which raises money and awareness of infant metabolic disorders.
Pasqualina in pearls
Amy and I brought three of our rescue dogs: Pasqualina(Neapolitan Mastiff/Great Dane mix with no hair), Barzini (our Neapolitan Mastiff with juvenile arthritis) and Otto (our three legged Pomeranian.) We were quite the site! But (most) people loved our dogs and fingers crossed there may even be a home for Otto!
I also met some great vendors. I will be reviewing some of their products in the next few days, and I wanted to start with our favorites! First was Daisy Couture Collars.
The collar very sturdy and the vintage pattern is adorable! I couldn’t wait to come home and change Ranger’s collar to a Daisy Couture.
Prices for Daisy Couture are very reasonable and products are made right here in the Southland. The best part is that I got the coolest accessory to go with Ranger’s collar. It’s a “collar wallet” that holds his tags so they don’t jingle-jangle as he walks (and scratches!) Check out all of Daisy Couture’s adorable items
, and Daisy herself who is a fabulously adorable, rescued Chihuahua mix!
Another fantastic vendor featured at the buffet was Haute Puppy
by Jennifer Baulto. She offers both a ready to wear and canine couture line! It’s truly exquisite! You can find her items at Bitch New York
which offers the ultimate in luxury dog products.
We had a terrific day, and I am pooped! But I have much more to write so stay tuned!
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Posted: April 27th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: My Book! | Tags: book, dog, dogs, Hollywood, los angeles dog rescue, The Complete Single's Guide to Being a Dog Owner | 3 Comments »
Click here to buy the book!
It’s quite surreal to be holding this impeccably designed (I can say that because I didn’t design it) book in my hand and think holy crap I wrote this!
It’s been almost two years to the day since my beautiful friend Tara who was my book agent–we’ve been friends since 10th grade (think big hair and scrunchy socks)–called me to tell me that there was a publisher (Adams Media) interested in buying my proposal.
I have to say I barely believed her.
After working in Hollywood, “interested in” something is about as good as “I’ll call you”. So while I was excited, I didn’t even really tell anyone for a few days because I didn’t think it was real!
Gladly it was real, and soon after I had a contract and an editor. After the holy s**t-momentary freak-out that now I had to actually write this thing, I dove in! Even with my (self-diagnosed) ADD, I just went into a zone. My whole life became about the book. No longer did I have to feel badly about going home early or not going out at all. I even went on a dating a hiatus! “Sorry, I may be 34 and single but I have to write.” No guilt, no second guessing. It was liberating. It was genius!
From July to November, while keeping a full-time job and of course caring for Bella, I wrote close to 80,000 words. The contract only called for 45,000– a number that I was so worried I’d never reach–but as I covered the items I outlined in my proposal to a level I saw fit, somehow the word count just kept growing. I’d certainly come a long way since college when I spent almost as much time playing with the font, margins and spacing (to make my papers seem longer) as I did writing.
Me & B
With the book’s roll out just beginning, a publicity strategy in place, and parties planned, I bursting with anticipation and excitement. But underlying it all is a bit sadness that Bella isn’t here to live experience this with me. I know it’s great that I’ve commemorated her in print, but in some ways it makes me feel my loss that much more because the whole book talks about her and us in the present tense, and I miss thinking about her in the present tense. In French, the term I miss her, Elle me manque, literally translates to she is missing from my life. And that is how I feel.
But enough with the sadness. I’m not a big one for dwelling or regret. Instead, I am gleeful about the book. I walk around with my copy like a kid with their blankie. And I am happy to have my sweet boy Ranger at my side to pick up where his sister Bella left off. As I type this, Ranger is lying by my side snoring away. He is pure love and canine happiness and I couldn’t be happier.
Ranger and his girlfriend Idaho
Now, go buy my book and tell your friends to do the same!
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Posted: April 7th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Rescue News | Tags: adopt, book, dog rescue, dogs, Los Angeles, rescue | No Comments »
In writing The Complete Single’s Guide to Being a Dog Owner, one of my goals is to take at least a tiny step in bridging the gap between rescuers and potential adopters. There are tons of dogs for adoption, tons of rescuers and tons of people wanting dogs, yet the adoption process can be challenging to say the least, and I hear about it from both sides…a lot.
Available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Border's
Potential adopters complain of difficult rescuers, and frustrating, dead-end, even sometimes demoralizing adoption processes and yet I also know the plight of rescuers. So along with the book, I am starting a series in my blog of DOG RESCUE FAQs; common questions about rescue answered to help both rescuers and adopters communicate more effectively. Because remember, it’s the rescue dogs who suffer when communications break down.
1. Why do rescues require applications?
Applications serve many functions including creating a record of where the dog goes and to whom. But an equally important function the application process is to weed out less than serious potential adopters. If you’re not willing to put the effort into filling out an application, then what other somewhat-inconvenient things are they not willing to do? Having a dog is wonderful, but it is also a series of responsibilities; the first of which is filling out that application! Now that said, I know applications can be annoying. So if you’re filling out many applications, keep an electronic copy of your previously filled out answers; in case questions are the same from one app to the other, you can cut and paste your responses.
2. Why do they home checks?
Rescuers do home checks not because they are nosy, but rather to make sure your home is dog ready. Many of the dogs we end up with have been runaways in the first place. Rescuers look for potential escape routes regular people probably wouldn’t notice, and they also look for other hazards- poisonous plants and or the precarious placement of precious items a new dog might knock over- dogs are often given back for destroying things. And finally, one big reason they do home checks is because sadly, people lie on their applications… a lot. They say their yard is fenced, it’s not. They say they live in a house; it’s a studio apartment. They say live alone; they live with their parents who are actually allergic and hate dogs. So it’s nothing personal against you; it’s usually a blanket protection policy.
3. How come they ask how old I am?
Rescue applications often ask for your date of birth because, while age is not always a perfect indicator of where you personally are at in life, certain life stages are more condusive to raising a dog than others. Hello I just finished a book dedicated to helping younger, single people care for their dogs. So, if anyone does, I know young single people can be great dog owners. But it’s not always easy. Rescuers get so many younger people turning in dogs because they can’t handle or afford it. However, by communicating what it is about you that would make you better suited to care for a dog for the long term– you are in a stable job, or have the support of your family, or own your house, or will get pet insurance, and or you would live in your car rather than give up your dog– you will have a better shot transcending the age bias of some rescuers.
On the other end of the spectrum, rescuers are also a bit reticent to adopt a very young dog to older owners because while older owners can make the commitment and spend lots of a time with a dog now, dogs live 10-15 years and rescuers want to make sure that dog is taken care of for the rest of its life. To deal with this problem, I always encourage older owners to demonstrate what they would do with a dog in case they encounter an unexpected health problem. This can be a simple as providing contact information for who would take the dog in case of emergency or some dog owners even write out wills!
So that’s the first of my DOG RESCUE FAQs! I hope you find these helpful. I’d love to hear from you if you have a burning dog rescue question!
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Posted: March 20th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Hollywood Dog | Tags: book, dog, dog sightings, dogs, los angeles dog rescue, puppy | 2 Comments »
Casper, Angelita & Gizmo in a Stroller!
Last night I stopped by a signing for a very funny book –The A-List Playbook– by E!’s Answer Bitch (Leslie Gornstein) at Barnes & Noble at The Grove. The book event space (where I hope to have a book signing myself one day soon) is on the third floor. I got on the escalator behind what I thought was a baby carriage. But as we reached the top floor, I realized there wasn’t a human baby in that carriage, but rather three cutie patootie dogs named Casper, Gizmo and Angelita. Their mommy was bringing them to The Grove for their maiden voyage in their new puppy stroller.
Gizmo seemed a little intent on exploring and getting outside the carriage, but for the most part the dogs were just happy to be in the mix! And while well behaved dogs are welcomed at The Grove, because there is a cafe at Barnes & Noble , dogs are not welcomed anywhere in the store. That is unless you sneak them in inside their stroller-i.e. no one noticed or said anything.
I just wish I could get a stroller big enough for Ranger, but somehow I doubt that would go unnoticed for long!
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Ranger and Friend Auggie