Zeus, world's tallest dog

Posted on May 9, 2014 by Stephanie Turner0 comments
Zeus dog drinking water from sink

Zeus, a great Dane of Michigan, is the world's tallest dog, according to the Guiness Book of World Records.

He is 44 inches tall, from feet to withers (shoulders), when standing on all four legs. He is therefore able to drink water straight from the sink. Zeus towers at 7 feet, 4 inches tall when standing on his hind legs. Kids often ask whether Zeus is a horse!

The relatively light dog, at 155 pounds, consumes a tremendous amount of food - allegedly, 30 pounds per day - but otherwise seems normal, goin on walks and socializing.

Recently, a golden retriever positioned itself under Zeus' belly and nipped at his feet, startling him. In the altercation that ensued, the attacking dog died. The county cleared Zeus of any fault, since an autopsy found no puncture or crushing, or any cause of death. However, Zeus may not walk in public off-leash any longer.

The previous record was Giant George's, a great Dane of Tucson, who was one inch shorter but weighed 245 pounds, and passed away in October 2013 just short of his eight birthday. The new record holder may become Freddie, a British great Dane, which is yet growing and already 41 inches tall.

Dog sniffs owner's cancer

Posted on April 23, 2014 by Stephanie Turner2 comments
dog max smells cancer

Dog Max detected his owner's Maureeen Burns' breast cancer, prompting multiple tests, only relenting when a biopsy gave a true positive result.

Maureen had known of the lump in her breast, and checked it regularly. One day, however, her dog sniffed her breast and became desolate. Sensing his message, she underwent a mammogram in response. The result was negative and relieved her, yet Max kept sniffing it and grieving.

The dog owner decided to ask for a biopsy, which did detect a cancerous tumor. Upon arriving home, Max also detected the incision and perked up - as if he knew that humans had finally listened and offered remedy.

In the vdeo below, Maureen says that Max "put his nose across my breast to check where the operation had been and was wagging his tail and his eyes were happy ... I love Max and I owe him so much."

This is not simply an anecdote. A study verified that dogs can sniff breast and lung cancers with 88% - 97% accuracy, independently of the dog, the cancer's stage, or the victim's smoking habit.

Already running is the not-for-profit InSitu Foundation, which focuses on training dogs to detect human cancers. Check out how they train dogs to sniff cancer. The advantages are great accuracy, plus low discomfort and cost. Ongoing research is also at UPenn's Working Dog Center. Other animals' noses are powerful diagnostics.

Complementary, there are efforts to mechanize and commercialize cancer-sniffing, part of the development of e-noses for medical and military ends.

Update May 23, 2014: A new experiment finds dogs are 98% accurate at detecting prostate cancer from urine, as reported by Bloomberg and Reuters.

Dog walkers find $10 million treasure

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Stephanie Turner1 comment
dog walkers gold coin find

While walking its dog in Northern California, a couple found eight cans that contained about 1,400 gold coins dating from the late 1800s.

Buried at different depths, seemingly at different times, the coins were in near mint condition. One was valued at over $1 million on its own. The buried treasure is perhaps the largest found in US history.

The couple has remained anonymous, for fear of attracting a gold rush on its property. It plans to sell most online through a dealer.

Click for Reuters' article on the $10 million coin treasure.

Rejoicing in the trove has brought the attention of the federal and state taxmen, however, who are set to claim about 47%. Taxes on a treasure trove are clear. According to the IRS, if "you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is your undisputed possession."

SF dogs poisoned with meatballs

Posted on Aril 20, 2014 by Stephanie Turner0 comments
dachshund oskar poisoned

Repeating an attack last year, over 100 meatballs laced with strychnine, rat poison, were placed in the Twin Peaks neighborhood, in spots hidden from humans but common to dogs. Under stairwells, along curbs, hedges and bushes, where dogs sniff, so placed the lethal meatballs complicate the dog owners' chances of intervening in time.

In summer of 2014, Oskar, a dachshund, died one week after having eaten the poisoned meatballs. Since then, the dog owner Dorothy Schechter has a new companion, who just rediscovered this year's meatballs during a walk in the same neighborhood of Twin Peaks. Shocked, Mrs. Schechter nevertheless maintains a positive attitude. "You can't let it get you down. You can't become embittered by it, because then you're of no use to anyone else at all." Less forgiving reactions are all over Yelp.

The SF Police Department is one the case, but without any leads or finger prints. Many San Franciscans are organizing to identify the attacker, with Yelp CEO having donated $23,000 for the purpose. The director of the city's animal control department believes that the motive is animosity to a particular dog, given that the attack is localized and repeated.

Dog walkers should remain alert, and be ready to rush a dog to the veterianarian, suggested police detective Denise BonGiovanni.

For more, read the articles in TIME and SF Gate. A similar attack in Boulder, CO was just found.

Update May 9, 2014: More poisoned meatballs in Sunset District have appeared, along with a candle!

Dog finds ancient mammoth tooth

Posted on June 6, 2013 by Stephanie Turner0 comments
mammoth tooth found by dog

A dog walk in Poland's Carpathian mountains produced a rare find. Mavrik, a collie dog, dug up an apparent bone, which turned out to be the tooth of a 200,000 year-old mammoth, an extinct type of elephant that would weigh some 6 tons.

Andrzej Sikorski, the dog owner, took the find home, noticed its ridges, and, following some research on the internet, concluded that it was a wooly mammoth's tooth. The Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals confirmed this discovery, carbon dating it to about 200,000 years ago.

Mavrik, the maverick dog! I hope that it got nice treats, if not a full understanding of the canine's mammoth find!

Bionic dog with prosthetic paws

Posted on May 23, 2013 by Stephanie Turner5 comments

Puppy Nakio was abandoned in the basement as a Nebraska family fled a foreclosure during winter. When found, the malnourished dog’s paws had frozen in a puddle, and the mother died.

He survived frostbite, but lost his four paws, which healed into round stumps. Veterinary assistant Christie Pace fell in love and adopted him. Soon she fretted that Nakio could not walk on his stumps, and only scoot on his belly across the floor.

Wishing him a better life, Christie had Orthopets outfit him with two prosthetic paws for the hind legs. Now able to run energetically, Nakio’s great spirit motivated Orthopets owner Martin Kaufmann to donate prosthetics for the front legs as well.

Martin Kaufmann explained, "When we saw how good he was going with his back leg prosthetics and how he was struggling to use his front legs it was very simple to say, 'We got to keep with him.'"

Nicknamed "bionic dog," the first dog with four prosthetic paws, he now runs, jumps, and plays as though a healthy dog.

Update May 23, 2014: Nakio's Facebook page has more.

Dog left outside elevator

Posted on May 22, 2013 by Stephanie Turner3 comments

This poor dog, forgotten outside the elevator, is yanked by the leash as the elevator ascends, surviving!


The dog owner's absent-mindedness is stunning. He casually enters the elevator, stares at the dog he is leaving behind as the doors close, and only reacts when the elevator starts to rise.

As the elevator rises, the leash yanks both, breaking the dog owner's wrist and pulling the dog to the ceiling.

Fortunately for the dog, the leash snaped off the collar and it survived unharmed - it could have hanged to death!

Click to comment!

Swifto's GPS tracks dog walkers

Posted on May 21, 2013 by Stephanie Turner5 comments
Swifto logo

Swifto is a new dog walking broker, matching dog owners with pre-screened dog walkers.

The Israeli-founded firm's key proposition is a GPS tracker, which lets owners monitor dogs' location during walks. The monitoring GPS plays on dog owners' fears of whether the dog walks actually take place.

Swifto boasts of its stable of dog walkers: they must pass three interviews, be college-educated, experienced with dogs, and willing to walk single dogs, one at a time.

A 30 minute walk costs $20, split between Swifto's 40% commission and the dog walker's $12.

According to the CEO, its "goal is to use technology to change and disrupt the landscape of conventional pet services," targeting "large metropolitan areas with dense concentrations of dog owners with high disposable income."

Swifto raised a $2.5 million investment from Benchmark Capital and granted a seat on its board of directors to Benchmark partner Michael Eisenberg, who oversees other Israeli start-ups. Swifto expects to reach $1 million in revenue from NYC in 2013, equivalent to about 500 clients demanding 30-minute walks every weekday.

For more, click to an interview with Swifto's CEO or to the latest Swifto press release.

With this in mind, I would like to ask some questions of dog walkers:

  • Do you feel your clients worry whether the walks are taking place?
  • Do you text pictures of clients' dogs to prove walks are taking place?
  • Do you feel that the GPS tracker sort of criminalizes dog walkers?
  • Would you work for Swifto, walking one dog at a time?
  • Have you used DogiDuty app or similar to log your dog walks?

Click on the Swifto survey to answer these yes/no questions and add any thoughts. Click for responses to survey

Update April 22, 2014: Employees speak up about Swifto at Glassdoor. The Better Business Bureau indicates that Swifto is not accredited.

Update April 29, 2014: Swifto's solicitation in Craigslist for dog walkers asks for a six-month commitment to the hours of 11am - 3pm. Would Swifto release from this commitment an otherwise unemployed dog walker who finds and wants another job? On its part, Swifto is committed to hiring in an automated way. Its solicitation asks applicants: "Please use a computer ... to fill out the application. Please do not call, as it will automatically invalidate your application." It may just find some charitable help from students at Fordham University! What is certain is that these details are omitted from Swifto's explanation to clients of its hiring process.

Cows trampling dog walkers to death

Posted on May 18, 2013 by Stephanie Turner2 comments
menacing cows

Often dog walkers mistake a quiet, open, green field with far away cows as an idylic opportunity. After all, the scenery is beautiful and serene, and cows are the gentle animals that help feed babies, right?

Yet walking a dog in a field with cows can be life threatening!

Apparently, cows view dogs as a threat and, with herd mentality, chase after them. Cows can run surprisingly fast, so a dog walker who is out of shape, or far from the fence, or clings to the dog, becomes a probable target! These 1,700 lb. beasts are even riskier if there are calves, as they become extra protective.

The latest victim, last week, was a 66 year-old dog walker trampled to death on his chest. Lest you laugh it off as a freak accident, know that death by cow trampling occurs more often than you think.

Dog walkers: Beware! Dogs are a magnet to cow herds - just Google "trampled by cows" to find articles, and chances are, a dog will figure.

Dog walkers can avoid cow trampling by heeding these tips:

  • Avoid fields with a herd of cows; otherwise,
  • Stay close to the fence
  • Stay far from the herd
  • If chased, let go of dog and run away from it
  • If chased, run downhill, if possible
  • Make yourself big and noisy, if necessary

Update June 6, 2013: Deer trampling of dog walkers is also a possibility!

Update June 7, 2013: Cow victim sues farmer for being trampled and paralyzed, after walking on his property. She wins an award pf nearly $400,000!

Survey on licensing fees for dog walkers

Posted on May 11, 2013 by Stephanie Turner4 comments
money black hole

Many in San Francisco have expressed that professional dog walkers harm the city, by crowding public spaces, damaging grass and plants, and not always cleaning up.

In response, the city is set to license professional dog walkers and charge them a fee of $240 in the first year, $100 after.

Do you think that the licensing revenue will be allocated to address San Franciscans' concerns (e.g. add dog walking areas, park maintenance, ticket officers)?

Please go to the 2-click survey.

Million dog march SF

Posted on May 10, 2013 by Stephanie Turner4 comments
many dogs

The march will be three miles long, end in a festival with music, vendors, and games for dogs and their owners.

Organized by SFDOG and sponsored by Yelp, Zynga, and San Francisco Bay Guardian, it pushes for dog walking rights with responsibilities. According to Sally Stephens, a leader of the San Francisco Dog Owners Group, "We are for off-leash only when the dog is under control. If a dog chases a bird, jumps on people or digs in the park, then the owner should get a citation for it."

San Francisco has a dog population estimated at 150,000, exceeding its kid population and residing in the homes of some 800,000.

To register, go to the RegOnline.com's page; to discuss, go to the Facebook page.

Update June 7, 2013: Though much fun, the million dog march missed the record earlier set in Britain for numbers of dogs in a march.

Sarah Cavallaro tasers dog walker

Posted on April 26, 2013 by Stephanie Turner5 comments
Gary Hesterberg

Park Ranger Sarah Cavallaro tasered Gary Hesterberg, as he was walking his two small dogs off-leash in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, according to SF Gate and CBS Local, though there were no prohibiting signs.

Mr. Hesterberg's civil suit has been filed in federal court, with details of Sarah Cavallaro at Court House News.

How did it happen? In summary:

  • She stopped him on account of the off-leash dogs, asked for his name and for him to wait
  • He asked if he was being cited, arrested or detained, but she said she was only holding him
  • She called for back-up, finding out he had given a false name
  • He walked away and she grabbed him, warning him of the taser
  • He warned back of his heart condition, walked away anyway because she had refused to detain him
  • As he turned to walk away, she tasered him on his back for five seconds

Gary was handcuffed for over three hours, arrested, thrown in jail and kept past midnight, altogether over eight hours! Of course, the DA declined to pursue any charges against him.

For an eyewitness account, here. There was a prior complaint about Sarah Cavallaro, that she had called "criminal" a dog walker for not using a leash in GGNRA. She has transferred to Yellowstone National Park.

Taxpayers who wish to thank Ms. Sarah Cavallaro for her contributions can reach her at Sarah_Cavallaro@nps.gov and 928.638.7811.

Update April 23, 2014: According to Courthouse News Service, Mrs. Cavallaro "did not unlawfully detain the man she Tasered after he challenged her authority to stop him for walking his dog without a leash, a federal judge ruled ... Hesterberg's claims for assault and battery remain."