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October 2009

September 2009

The Fascinating Wolfdog

Wolfdog

Every so often, I'll be walking with my dogs in the NC Arboretum or in Bent Creek Forest, and there'll be an older gentleman calmly strolling along beside the largest, most magnificent animal I've ever seen.

Of course, the first time I saw this sight, I had to stop and ask the man about his unusual pet, which my two dogs observed rather warily. Turns out the animal is a wolfdog named, appropriately enough, Tom Wolf (unlike the famous author, this one is spelled without the "e"). Tom Wolf has been with his owner since he was a pup. Last time I saw him, a week or so ago, Tom Wolf was fourteen. This gentle giant is as nice and mellow as any big ol' dog could be.

Wolfdogs are not uncommon here in the mountains. We are fortunate to have a local sanctuary for these beautiful creatures, Full Moon Farm in Black Mountain, NC. Full Moon Farm says a wolfdog is a dog with recent wolf heritage -- an animal with a pure wolf ancestor within the last five generations. Interestingly, the domestic dog is thought to be a domestic variant of the gray wolf.

Wolfdogs, says Full Moon Farm, are "domestic animals with special needs." They were bred by humans and combine characteristics of both dogs and wolves. Most wolfdogs are a combination of wolf and German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, or Alaskan Malamute. They typically have a high prey drive, but they can certainly make good pets in the right household -- Tom Wolf is proof of that. However, owning a wolfdog takes a special breed of person, and these animals are not legal as pets everywhere.

For more about wolfdogs, visit Full Moon Farm's website, www.fullmoonfarm.org. Tours of the facility must be scheduled, but the next tour open to the public is Saturday, October 3 at 3 PM. Check their website or call 828-669-1818 for more information.

(Photo from www.thundafunda.com.)


CANINE CRUISIN': Moses Cone Park, Julian Price Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

Mosescone

If you're thinking of taking a Fall color excursion, take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and head towards Mile Post 294, near Blowing Rock, NC. That's where you'll find an outstanding doggie destination: the Moses Cone Memorial Park. On 3500 acres of grounds sits a mansion with a breath-taking view, surrounded by 25 miles of carriage trails which are used for horse trail rides, but the trails are also very walkable. (The mansion is now a crafts center run by the Southern Highland Crafts Guild.)

Down below the mansion is the picturesque Bass Lake, which can be reached from Rt. 221 south, right outside of Blowing Rock. Bass Lake has a wonderful flat paved trail all around it, so it makes for an ideal walk or jog with your dog. In the Fall, the lake is surrounded by red, orange, and yellow, and it is quite spectacular to look up the mountain at the white mansion, set off by the vivid autumn colors. Carriage trails loop around the lake for longer hiking opportunities.

It's hard to believe, but there is another wonderful park just minutes away from Moses Cone, Julian Price Park, also accessible off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here, too, you'll find a lake with a trail around it. It is more rustic and uneven than the one around Bass Lake, though, so wear good hiking shoes or boots for this one. Julian Price Park is no slouch for recreational activities, either: It offers 3900 acres with hiking trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, trout fishing, and boat rental.

One or both of these parks make an outing you and your doggie will not soon forget. You could easily spend a day or more doing these two parks. When you tire of the natural beauty, you can always head into the quaint town of Blowing Rock, where numerous shops, galleries and restaurants await you.

For more information about Moses Cone and Julian Price, visit the CANINE CRUISIN' page.


Dogs Doing Good

Bubba

Here in WNC and the Upstate, we see countless ways dogs are doing good. One example is Paws with a Purpose (www.pawswithapurpose.org), an Asheville-based organization that uses volunteers and their dogs to bring happiness and comfort to patients in hospitals, residents in nursing homes, special needs children in schools, and others. Paws with a Purpose began its work at Mission Hospital ten years ago with three volunteers and two dogs and today has over 100 volunteers.

Mission Hospital's Pet Therapy Program is living proof of how dogs help make our lives better. Dogs and even a few cats make the rounds and brighten up the day for patients who look forward to their visits. Mission is currently raising money for the program through its "Paws on a Mission" program (www.pawsonamission.com). An anonymous donor is matching every dollar of $30,000 raised. Visit the website to read some heartwarming pet therapy stories or to make a donation.

Shown above is Bubba, the very first therapy dog at Mission Hospital, who brought joy into children's lives from 1999 until he passed away in 2005.


Can Dogs and Humans Share Infectious Diseases?

Girlanddog

The transfer of diseases between dogs and humans has been rare if not non-existent, but now MRSA, a drug-resistant germ that used to infect only humans, seems to be moving from human to dog and vice versa, according to a September 21 article in The New York Times. MRSA has typically been a problem in hospitals and other health care environments. 

Some recent scientific studies have suggested "a strong link" between pets and humans when it comes to MRSA. "There are a number of papers coming out now showing that pets pick up MRSA from us," says Dr. Elizabeth Scott of Simmons College in Boston.

The best precaution, according to experts, is "frequent washing or sanitizing of hands before and after playing with a pet." Infectious disease specialist Dr. Richard Oehler "recommends hand washing or using hand gels before and after playing with a pet, not letting a pet lick people around the face, and not washing pet food or water bowls in the same sink that food is prepared. People should also wear gloves when attending to pets that have open wounds, he said, and should keep any of their own broken skin bandaged."

Dr. J. Scott Weese, a veterinary microbiologist thinks transmission is rare. "In the grand scheme of things with MRSA, pets are a pretty minor thing, " he says. But given the close relationship humans have with companion animals, it pays to be careful. Says Dr. Weese, "if they're a minor component of a major disease, that's still something we need to be aware of."


Life on the End of a Chain

Chaineddog

Too many dogs spend their lives on the end of a chain. A number of grass roots organizations in North and South Carolina are trying to end this inhumane treatment. One of them is ChainFree Asheville. ChainFree Asheville takes an activist approach: in addition to lobbying for legislation banning the continuous chaining of dogs, the organization builds fences free of charge for low-income families so they can unchain their dogs. Twenty-five dogs have been freed so far. For more information, visit www.chainfreeasheville.org.

Rove on Over to these Upcoming Dog Events

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The following events are being sponsored by animal shelters in WNC and the Upstate. Attending these events raises much needed funds and saves animals' lives.

 

September

Sept. 25 - 27 - Adoptathon, Greenville, SC www.greenvillehumane.org for information

October

Oct. 3 - Dog Jog 2009, Boone, NC www.wataugahumanesociety.org for information

Oct. 9 - Auction for a Cause 2009, Spartanburg, SC www.spartanburghumane.org for information

Oct. 10 - Mutt Strut 2009, Asheville, NC www.ashevillehumane.org for information


ReTail Scene: Smart Toys for Smart Dogs

Seems like there are a whole lot of very smart dogs in WNC and the Upstate. No doubt yours is one of them! So how do you keep ol' smarty pants motivated? Try smart toys -- toys that are specially designed to stimulate, interest, and challenge your dog.

Agility kit Here's one that's pretty cool: a Dog Agility Starter Kit. You can set up an agility course in your own backyard with weave poles, a high jump, an open tunnel, and more. Agility combines exercise with mental stimulation and most active dogs love it. If you can't find the agility starter kit at your local pet store, buy it right here from PetSmart.

If agility's not your dog's thing, there are other smart toys you might want to consider. For example, a variety of Kong toys are available to encourage your dog to think about how to get at the treats inside the Kong. Use the PetSmart shopping button on the right side of this page to look for a complete selection of Kongs and other smart toys.


If Dogs could Fly...

... they wouldn't need Pet Airways, the airline created especially for pets.

Petairwayslogo Pet Airways flies dogs and cats in the main cabin of an airplane, not the cargo hold. All flights are accompanied by a trained pet attendant. The airline promises never to leave its "pawsengers" unattended and even makes sure flights are scheduled to allow for potty breaks. Pet Airways currently serves about 15 cities, with the closest location to our area being Richmond, Virginia. They are expanding so who knows, maybe they'll come to Charlotte soon (or even Greenville or Asheville, if we're really lucky). For more information, visit www.petairways.com.

Petparadiselogo Speaking of Charlotte, maybe you're planning some holiday travel in and out of the Charlotte airport and you have a doggie dilemma: you'd rather not fly with Fido. Then you'll be interested to know that a new pet resort, Pet Paradise, has just opened near the Charlotte airport. Pet Paradise provides free airport parking, daycare, and boarding in luxury accommodations. They even have a bone-shaped pool for swimmers. Pet Paradise also operates at several Florida airports, as well as in New Orleans and Houston. For more information, visit www.petparadiseresort.com.


Mutt Strut 2009 in Asheville on Oct. 10

Mutt-strut (2) Asheville Humane Society is sponsoring "Mutt Strut 2009," an event to raise funds to help the homeless animals of Buncombe County and for the new Adoption and Education Center currently under construction. Mutt Strut 2009 includes a dog walk, doggie contests, demonstrations, vendors, guest celebrities, and more. It's a day of fun and festivities to benefit the animals! Participants can walk with or without pets and in teams if desired.

Mutt Strut 2009 will be held on Saturday, October 10, from 8:30 AM to 12 PM at Carrier Park in Asheville, NC. For more information, visit the Asheville Humane Society's website: www.ashevillehumane.org.


Off-Leash Dog Parks

Boonedogpark Despite the many local outdoor recreational opportunities, dogs must be leashed on Blue Ridge Parkway trails and in most forest and park areas. For off-leash time and socialization with other dogs, dog parks are ideal; however, there are not many of them in the region. The following is a list of official off-leash dog parks in WNC and the Upstate -- facilities that are fenced, maintained, and allow dogs off-leash. If you know of others, feel free to comment so we can update this list.

Note: Any time you visit a dog park, it is a good idea to have water, poop bags, and proof of vaccinations. Be sure your dog is well-socialized and will not be intimidated or cause problems in this environment.

(Photo: Dog Park in Boone, Watauga Humane Society)

ASHEVILLE, NC

Azalea Dog Park

Location: 395 Azalea Road (Not far from the WNC Nature Center. Continue on Azalea Road past all the soccer fields and the dog park will be on the left.)

Facilities: Two fenced areas, one small dogs and a large area for big dogs with a gazebo. Bring your own water. Insider tip: For a nice cool-down after romping at this dog park, exit the park and look for a pull-in near a dumpster, immediately on your left. Down a short path is a shallow river bed and gentle rapids where doggies love to splash.

More Information

French Broad River Dog Park

Location: Adjacent to the French Broad River Park, Amboy Road and Riverview Drive, West Asheville.

Facilities: Large fenced area. No separate area for small dogs. Water is available.

More Information

BOONE, NC

Watauga Humane Society Dog Park

Location: Don Hayes Road, between Rutherwood Baptist Church and the Boone Stockyard, about four miles from Boone off Old Highway 421 South.

Facilities: About 3.5 acres of fenced flat and hilly area. Separate area for small dogs, and another area for dogs with special behavioral problems. Water available. Note: Pre-registration required. Admission by pass only. Annual memberships and day passes available at the Watauga Humane Society. Insider tip: If you are not a Boone resident, you can still use this park for the day (12 hours) for only $3.00.

More Information

GREENVILLE, SC

Canine Corner at Cleveland Park

Location: 126 Woodland Way (Across from the Cleveland Park Animal Hospital and horse stables).

Facilities: Half-acre mulched park. No separate area for small dogs. Water is usually available. 

More Information

GREER, SC

Six Wags Dog Park

Location: 3671 North Highway 14 (4-1/2 miles north of Greer)

Facilities: A private 8-acre facility open to the public. Five fenced play areas based on dogs' sizes; includes a nature trail, creek, and agility equipment. Open 8 AM - 8 PM seven days a week. No appointment needed. Daily admission is $5 for the first dog, $2 for the second dog from the same family. Proof of vaccination required.

More Information

RUTHERFORDTON, NC

Four Paws Kingdom Campground

Location: 335 Lazy Creek Drive, Rutherfordton

Facilities: Private campground catering to dogs. Has numerous fenced off-leash dog parks and other facilities available to campground guests; however, visitors can get day passes to use the facilities ($10 per dog for 3 hours on week days to use all of the dog parks, or $25 per day for up to two dogs to use all dog amenities). Reservations required. Call 828-287-7324 for details.

More Information 

WAYNESVILLE, NC

Waynesville Pepsi Dog Park

Location: Vance Street, off of Howell Mill Road (Below the Waynesville Recreation Center and soccer fields)

Facilities: Two fenced areas, one for small dogs. Bring water.

More Information


POOCH PATHS: Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, NC

Brevard062308 dogs If splashing in shallow water, hiking shaded mountain trails, and watching the rush of natural waterfalls excites you and your pooch, then the Brevard side of the Pisgah National Forest is the Pooch Path for you. Right at the entrance to the Pisgah National Forest on US 276, up a ways on the left, you'll find the shallow, gently running, cool water of the Davidson River, where doggies love to play (see photo).

All along US 276 are additional opportunities for fun, including the Visitor Center/Ranger Station, where you'll find a nature trail and exercise trail. Stop in to get trail maps. Then there's the Davidson River Campground, with hookups, trails, and fishing streams, the Sycamore Flats picnic area along the river, and the Coontree picnic area. At Coontree, cross a shallow stream and you'll find a secluded area with cliffs where you're likely to find jumpers splashing into the pool of water below.

Continue further up US 276 and you'll reach Looking Glass Falls, right off the highway. You can take a stairway down to the falls and even swim at its base, but be careful -- the rocks are slippery. It's also a short ride to Sliding Rock, a natural formation that acts as a water slide. You and your fur-pal can have fun watching both kids and adults taking the plunge, and you can wade in the water near the bottom of the slide.

You could spend many happy hours splashing and hiking just along this route, without even venturing further in the Pisgah National Forest. And on your way out, be sure to make a stop at Dolly's Ice Cream (on the left as you're leaving the Pisgah National Forest). Get yourself one of their incredible flavors, and treat the pooch to a vanilla soft-serve!

For more information and photos, visit the POOCH PATHS page.


Opt to Adopt!

Chester-43009 The weekend of Sept. 12-13, 2009 is Fall National Adoption Weekend in all PetSmart stores, sponsored by PetSmart Charities. PetSmart will offer adopters free gifts and coupons during that weekend. In the Asheville area, you can visit Animal Compassion Network's "Prestige Subaru Fall Adoptathon" on Sept. 12-13 from 11 AM - 5 PM at the PetSmart on Bleachery Boulevard in Asheville. Participating area organizations include Asheville Humane Society, Avery County Humane Society, Haywood County Animal Shelter, Project Paws, Sarge's Animal Rescue, and others. For more information, visit www.animalcompassionnetwork.org. Chester, the handsome guy shown here, was adopted from Asheville Humane Society. He is the mascot of Carolina Mountain Dog!

Please consider adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue organization. Check with your local PetSmart to see if an adoption event is being held in your area. For additional information about adopting, along with a list of shelters and animal rescue organizations in WNC and the Upstate, go to the ADOPTING A DOG page.


CANINE CRUISIN': Rutherfordton, NC

Fourpaws1007 013 Rutherfordton, NC is a first-class doggy destination for several good reasons. First, right in Rutherfordton, you'll find a kind of canine camping nirvana for your dog called Four Paws Kingdom. This first-class campground is dedicated to dogs -- really! Four Paws Kingdom is a 30-plus acre site that features a large fenced off-leash dog park, a fenced off-leash agility fun playground, a fenced off-leash small dog play area, a fenced off-leash area with a creek, and a fenced off-leash doggy swimming pond. Plus there are twenty acres of on-leash nature trails, clean private restrooms/showers, over 40 RV sites with full hook-ups, and even dog-friendly on-site trailers and cabins you can rent. Owners Meik and Birgit Bartoschek are exceptional hosts who throw many parties and cook gourmet meals for their guests. Schroeder and Lucy (see photo) are the resident greeters. The Four Paws camping season runs through December, so check them out at www.4pawskindgom.com.

Two more reasons the area rocks for dogs are Chimney Rock State Park and Lake Lure, both of which are within 30 minutes of Rutherfordton. Chimney Rock welcomes on-leash dogs. It has natural beauty and hiking trails galore perfect for hours of fun. Chimney Rock holds a special "Bark in the Park" every year in the Spring that welcomes dogs and features special demonstrations. Past years have included agility and guide dogs. To learn more about Chimney Rock, go to www.chimneyrockpark.com.

Lake Lure is a stunning lake with a marina, beach area, boardwalk, and lake tours. While dogs are not allowed in all areas, you can take a refreshing on-leash walk and get a great view of the lake as a cool-down after your Chimney Rock excursion (or as a leisurely alternative to hiking in Chimney Rock). Both Chimney Rock and Lake Lure are worth the visit -- and Four Paws Kingdom makes a great base of operations in the Rutherfordton area.

Visit the CANINE CRUISIN' page for more about Four Paws Kingdom and Chimney Rock Park.


WNC's Humane Alliance Spay/Neuter Clinic

Lifesaver The over-population of dogs and cats in WNC and the Upstate is evident in shelters every day. The same problem exists nationally. The solution to the stray, abandoned, and unwanted companion animal dilemma is this: only by implementing widespread sterilization programs, only by spaying and neutering all companion animals, will we get a handle on pet over-population.

That is the mission of Humane Alliance Spay/Neuter Clinic, an organization that is both regionally and nationally prominent. Humane Alliance serves 23 counties and partners with over 40 animal welfare organizations within a 100 mile radius of Asheville. Humane Alliance has spayed/neutered over 200,000 dogs and cats in WNC since its founding in 1994. Humane Alliance sterilizes an average of 120 animals daily, or close to 23,000 annually, with 70 percent of them being transported to the clinic.

Humane Alliance also operates a mentoring/training program, the National Spay/Neuter Response Team (NSNRT) that helps other organizations learn how to open and operate self-sustaining clinics in their communities. As of May 2009, NSNRT has trained 55 organizations in 23 states. In 2009, Humane Alliance started a new training program for veterinary extern students and private practitioners.

Humane Alliance is open to the general public, providing affordable spay/neuter, along with low-cost vaccines given at the time of surgery. the clinic is located at 25 Heritage Drive, off Leicester Highway, in Asheville, NC. For more information, call (828) 252-2079.

Humane Alliance helps reduce animal over-population by offering high volume, high quality, affordable sterilization to WNC and, through its training programs, to the entire country!