Open Thread
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Special Guest: Beth Finke

Welcome back to Off Leash, Bark’s Wednesday open thread, your chance to catch up with other Bark readers and our editors and contributors during a real-time chat. We’ve been enjoying the free-form exchange of ideas on the open thread, but we’re making one tweak. We’ve decided to invite a special guest to each open thread. Sometimes, we’ll feature a regular Bark contributor, so you can drill down on specific topics, such as training, behavior, rescue, activism, animal law and more. Other times, we’ll invite folks we admire to join the conversation.


This afternoon, regular Bark contributor Beth Finke will be dropping by. An NPR commentator, Beth Finke is an award-winning author, teacher and journalist. She also happens to be blind. Her memoir, Long Time, No See was named one of the ChicagoTribune’s favorite nonfiction books for 2003. Her memoir about her bond with her Seeing Eye Dog, Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound, won an ASPCA/Henry Bergh children’s book award. She writes about her experiences with a Seeing Eye dog and service dogs, in general, as well as issues around the Americans with Disabilities Act for the Bark and on the Safe & Sound blog. She’ll be checking in all afternoon to mingle and answer questions.


Housekeeping: This week we’ll be selecting one participant at random to receive a Dog Is My Co-Pilot bumpersticker, so be sure to include your email when you register to comment, so we can contact you if you win.


For newcomers, the open thread is a little like the dog park: Get out there and run, sniff around and play nice. Obscene, abusive, offensive or commercial comments will be taken down. We close the thread at 4 p.m. PST. 


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Submitted by Beth Finke | April 28 2011 |

My firsthand experience is with guide dogs, so i will answer from that point of view -- When guide dog schools first started in the US (nearly 100 years ago now) a lot of the dogs they used were “rescue dogs” from animal shelters. As time went on, though, the schools realized they were looking for something very specific: dogs that not only had excellent health, intelligence and temperament, but also had a willingness to work and thrive on praise.
And so, many of the schools started their own breeding programs. You know, to do their best to come out with dogs with those traits.
I’m sure there are plenty of rescue dogs that would make great guide dogs, but I like the idea that from the time they are puppies, these potential Seeing Eye dogs are cared for by a team of experts -- full-time veterinarians and technicians. As these puppies grow up, these veterinarians, experts and faithful volunteers are always there to monitor the health and well-being of the dogs. It is my opinion (and honestly, just my opinion!) that all of this helps produce guide dogs more likely to be able to work a long, long time. Very important, as it can be difficult to transition from one guide dog to another.

Submitted by Constance | April 30 2011 |

I have had Happy (rescue, 3year old 4 pound CHI)for 1 1/2 years he was neutered when I got him. Happy still humps his favorite toy till his ding ding comes out. I would like to get a playmate for him but am concerned that he may do this to a real live dog. Does anyone have any advice for me?? Thank you in advance, Constance

Submitted by Stella | May 3 2011 |

Beth and everyone else,

My 55 lb dog needs to travel from Haiti to the East Coast, USA in July. She currently lives with my ex there, who wants to accompany her. Temperature is a problem. What's the best way to handle the temperature problem on an international flight? She will be going American Airlines, so they will not fly her if at any stop the temperature is higher than 85 degrees. Is AA Cargo a safe alternative for beloved pets?


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