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October 2009

New! 2010 Edition - Asheville Doggie Guide


Know where the dog parks are in Asheville? Is there anyone who can scoop the poop in your yard? Do any vets offer alternative medicine? How about a campground that actually caters to dogs? 

Find it all in the new 2010 Edition of the Asheville Doggie Guide -- everything for dogs in the Asheville, Hendersonville, and Black Mountain, NC area!

This handy pocket-size guide includes adoption organizations, animal services, dog bakeries and boutiques, boarding facilities, dog-friendly campgrounds, doggie daycare, dog parks, grooming services, dog photographers, poop pick-up services, dog therapy, hiking trails that are good for dogs, training, vets, and more, plus adoption information, safety tips, and pet rules and regulations for Buncombe and Henderson Counties. It has hundreds of listings -- names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and websites -- saving hours and hours of research time! You will refer to it often. There is no other resource available like the Asheville Doggie Guide.

Special Offer for Readers of Carolina Mountain Dog!

The publisher's list price for the Asheville Doggie Guide is $19.95, but you can get your copy of the guide for $13.95, a savings of $6! You'll get a $6 rebate when you purchase the Asheville Doggie Guide directly from the publisher! 
Learn about this special offer here.

Dogs and Halloween

Costumed-dog Halloween (tomorrow night) may be fun for children, but it can be traumatic for dogs. Door bells ringing, doors opening, and lots of commotion around the neighborhood can upset a dog's routine. Candy, particularly chocolate, can be toxic to dogs. And while it may seem like a good idea to take your dog trick-or-treating with the kids, the Humane Society of the United States advises you to leave your dog at home. The street noise and unfamiliar people could cause your dog to "act out of character."

To read some helpful tips for keeping your pets safe on Halloween, check out this link from the Humane Society.

CANINE CRUISIN': Waynesville and Lake Junaluska, NC

Waynesville-greenway Waynesville and nearby Lake Junaluska make a great excursion for you and your dog. You'll be able to walk, jog, or bike on the Waynesville greenway -- a flat trail that runs over 5 miles through parts of Waynesville, some of it beside Richland Creek, and then to Lake Junaluska, continuing along one side of the lake.

Lake Junaluska, a retreat and conference center run by the United Methodist Church, is picturesque and peaceful. It is open to public use. There is a lovely trail, about 2-1/2 miles, that encircles the lake, and another walking trail of almost 4 miles that passes many of the buildings.

In Waynesville, let your dog off leash at the Pepsi Dog Park, located on Vance Street, not far from the Waynesville Recreation Center. The dog park is divided into two grassy areas, one for large dogs, and one for small dogs. It's a modest size but sufficient for some good playtime. After you drain your dog's energy, take a stroll down Waynesville's main street, where you'll find many interesting shops and several good restaurants.

For more information, directions, and Waynesville Greenway and Lake Junaluska trail maps, visit the CANINE CRUISIN' page.

ReTail Scene: The All Important Walk

Easy Walk Harness Taking your dog for a brisk walk is a great way for both of you to get exercise. Regular walks keep dogs balanced, happy, and calm. A walk can turn stressful, however, if your dog is constantly pulling. We've tried just about every kind of technique, collar and leash to reduce our large dogs from their natural desire to forge ahead. The best device we've found is the Gentle Leader Easy Walk Harness. Since the leash attaches to a martingale loop on the chest, the dog is not pulling at the neck. It is cleverly designed with a different color-coordinated belly strap so you can easily identify the right way to put it on. This harness almost instantly made walking our two big dogs a more enjoyable experience. The harness is available in various sizes and colors from Cherrybrook.

Doggie Adventures in the Upstate

Discover Upstate South Carolina Find out where to take your dog for a leisurely stroll in downtown parks and around lakes. Learn about the dog-friendly South Carolina Botanical Gardens. Find the best hiking trails in the Upstate. Visit a private dog park with three play yards. Discover which Upstate restaurants welcome dogs in their outdoor seating areas. All of this helpful information is in an issue of Discover Upstate South Carolina magazine, and we've provided a link to this great resource here. (Note: This is a PDF and the article about dogs in the Upstate begins on page 6.)

Emergency Rooms for Dogs

Urgentcare It's the middle of the night and your dog is really sick. Or it's the weekend and your dog gets injured. What do you do if your vet doesn't offer emergency services?

The following facilities in the Carolina mountains offer after-hour emergency room care for dogs (night, weekend and holiday hours). If you know of others, feel free to comment and add to this list.

Asheville, NC
REACH (Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital)
677 Brevard Road, Asheville, NC 28806
(828) 665-4399

Flat Rock, NC
Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital
205 N. Highland Lake Road, Flat Rock, NC 28731
(828) 697-7767

Greenville, SC
Animal Emergency Clinic
393 Woods Lake Road, Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 232-1878

Spartanburg, SC
Veterinary Emergency Clinic
291 Asheville Highway
Spartanburg, SC 29303
(864) 591-1923

What's Your Dog Really Made Of?

BioPet DNA Many dogs in the Carolina mountains are mixed breed (affectionately known as mutts). Typically, this is a good thing -- a mixed ancestry in dogs is believed to result in a phenomenon known as "hybrid vigor." Essentially, this means mutts are found to be generally healthier than pure-bred dogs.

So, what if you're curious about what your mixed breed dog is really made of? Wouldn't you like to know what breeds are in the background of your pup?  You can venture a guess or ask your vet to theorize, but you'll never be sure. This is what accounts for the current popularity of dog DNA testing. By simply collecting cells from your dog's cheek with a swab and sending them to a lab for analysis, you'll get an accurate report of your dog's ancestry.

If you're interested in dog DNA testing, take a look at this sample report produced by BioPet. Then check out the BioPet DNA Breed Identification Test, available from PetSmart via this link.

POOCH PATHS: Carl Sandburg Home, Flat Rock, NC

Front Lake-Sandburg Home Carl Sandburg and his wife Lilian owned a 245-acre farm named Connemara in Flat Rock, NC, a few miles from Hendersonville. Carl was one of America's greatest writers, and Lilian achieved world fame for raising award-winning goats. Mrs. Sandburg sold the house and land to the National Park Service after her husband's death. The Park Service designated it as a National Historic Site and conducts tours of the home.

Little known except to locals, however, is the fact that the site is a naturally beautiful hiking paradise and admission is free. The grounds feature everything from an easy stroll around picturesque Front Lake, to a moderate hike to Little Glassy Mountain, to a more adventurous hike up the Glassy Trail to Glassy Mountain. Most trails pass through unspoiled forest and it isn't suprising to have a trail all to yourself. Dogs are permitted on leash.

Trailsign-sandburghome The Sandburg farm is truly a hidden gem for a hike with your dog. Chances are your four-legged friend will also be intrigued by the goats kept in the barn area, as well as by the resident cat. Trails can be accessed from the field across from the barn and from Front Lake. See the POOCH PATHS page for additional information,  directions, and a link to a trail map.

Saving Lives on the Road and in the Air

Freedom-train Two organizations based in South Carolina's Upstate are helping to save the lives of animals. Freedom Train Animal Rescue Transports is a network of volunteers who transport animals from shelters and abusive or neglectful situations to screened and approved rescues and adoption homes. The focus is on sending animals from the South to the Northeast, but it can involve many states and regions. A transporter drives 60 to 90 miles with one or more animals and hands them off, relay style, to the next transporter. The organization welcomes applications for volunteer transporters as well as donations. Visit for more information.

Pilots n paws logo Pilots N Paws brings together people who rescue, shelter or foster animals with pilots and plane owners who want to assist in transporting these animals. The organization does not directly arrange in-flight transports, but it facilitates networking between individuals via its website, In September, the organization ran the "Pilots N Paws 5000," a one week event designed to transport thousands of animals to safety.

Dogs and Children with Autism

Bubba In a previous post called "Dogs Doing Good," we talked about how dogs bring joy into the lives of children at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. A recent New York Times article takes this a step further: Dogs, it seems, are playing a significant role in helping autistic children. One family who acquired a service dog for their 11-year old autistic son said the benefits of the dog's companionship were noticed almost immediately. "More and more changes have happened over the months as their bond has grown," the boy's mother said. "He's much calmer. He can concentrate for much longer periods of time. It's almost like a cloud has lifted." The article references the fact that the National Institutes of Health is soliciting studies on the tangible beneficial effects of the relationships between pets and children.

We have long known about the calming effect pets can have on humans. As we hear more about the increasing rate of autism, it's encouraging to know that dogs can play a therapeutic role in the lives of autistic children.

ReTail Scene: How to Take a Hike with Your Small Dog

Doginbackpack We wanted to take our older small dog on a hike with our two big dogs, but we knew he couldn't handle the extended time on a trail. Luckily, we found this cool backpack made by Outward Hound. It accommodates dogs up to twenty pounds. They sit comfortably on the padded bottom and get a nice ride. The straps distribute the weight to make carrying your dog easy. This brings a whole new meaning to "walking the dog." The Outward Hound Backpack Pet Carrier is hard to find in stores, but it is available via the Internet from PetSmart. Use this link to learn more about it or to order.

Bike Riding with Your Dog

Biking with your dog-1 For a fun way to exercise yourself and your dog, consider a bike ride. It's an especially good activity during the Fall months. But keep in mind that your dog probably has no idea what a bike is, or what it does. That's why at least one training session is essential before you take off.

We trained our 9-year old black lab mix and our 6-year old cattle dog mix in an afternoon. These basic steps will get you started. (The following steps assume you are interested in a leashed ride on a flat surface. If you are planning to do mountain biking, your dog should not be leashed. He must be able to follow voice commands and stay near you.)

1. Orient your dog to the bike. Walk the bike and your dog on a loose leash until the dog becomes accustomed to walking beside the bike. Make a few turns and go in circles a few times so the dog has to follow you.
2. Get on the bike in a flat, protected area with little or no traffic. Keep your dog loosely leashed on the side most comfortable for you. Have your dog sit before you begin. Start riding very slowly and gently pull your dog to follow. Provide plenty of leash but keep your dog at your side or slightly behind you.
3. Keep riding very slowly and make some turns. See if your dog follows you. Use voice commands that your dog understands to control his movement as needed. 
4. Gradually increase your speed. Your dog should keep up. If the dog moves ahead of the bike, gently pull him back and use a voice command such as "easy" so he knows to stay by your side. Be alert. If your dog starts to go in a different direction and you can't correct him, drop the leash, stop your bike, and start over again with your dog sitting by your side.
5. Bike ride frequently so your dog gets used to it. Be sure to bring water and don't over-work your dog.
TIP: Look for flat, wide paved areas with minimal traffic to bike ride with your dog. Rail trails or greenways, such as the Boone, NC greenway and the Fletcher, NC greenway (in the Fletcher Community Park) are ideal places for bike riding.

Biking with your dog-2 More information about teaching your dog to bike ride with you, including valuable safety tips:

Tomorrow in Asheville: Join the Mutt Strut!

Muttstrutsign Come on out with your doggie and strut your stuff at Mutt Strut 2009, Asheville Humane Society's biggest event of the year. You can join in a dog walk to raise money for the homeless animals of Buncombe County, and to help build the new Adoption and Education Center, opening in late 2010. There'll be fun contests, entertainment, vendor booths, and more. It's all happening on Saturday, October 10, from 8:30 AM to 12 PM at Carrier Park in Asheville. For additional details, visit

Celebrating NC's State Dog

Plott The Plott Hound was bred in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1700s and is the only dog to have originated in the state. It was chosen as North Carolina's official state dog in 1989. The Plott Hound is a legendary hunting dog but also has a reputation for being a gentle, loyal companion to humans.

Tomorrow, the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University (Cullowhee, NC) will open a new exhibit explaining the history and origins of the Plott Hound. Bob Plott, a descendant of Johannes Plott, the man who imported the original breeding stock, contributed to the research for the exhibit.

The Moutain Heritage Center is located in WCU's H. F. Robinson Administration Building. For additional information about hours and other exhibits, call 828-227-7129, or visit

The photo, from the WCU website, is of Blackrock Waylon, a Jackson County Plott Hound that has won "Big Game Hound of the Year" at the National Plott Days competition.

Can Your Dog Get the Flu?

Dogonbed Human flu season has officially started. Millions of people will be getting "regular" flu shots, and H1N1 vaccine distribution began yesterday. So dog lovers everywhere, including in the Carolina mountains, are wondering, "Can my dog get the flu?"

The answer is yes and no. Dogs are not known to contract human influenza virus, or H1N1 (formerly known as Swine) flu, at least at the present time. But your dog can get a canine variation of the flu known as H3N8, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Canine flu causes similar symptoms in dogs as in humans -- runny noses, coughing, and fever. The H3N8 flu originated with horses but, in September 2005, it became a legitimate flu infecting the canine population. According to the ASPCA, there have been outbreaks of canine flu in parts of North Carolina, but only in areas where dogs are in close proximity, such as kennels and shelters. Canine flu does not appear transferable to humans.

Most cases of canine flu are mild, but it can develop into a more serious disease. There are treatments available, and there is a canine flu vaccine -- ask your vet about it.

For more information about canine flu, visit:

POOCH PATHS: Mt. Pisgah, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

Chester at Mt. Pisgah There is a small window of opportunity between now and early November to take in the beauty of Mt. Pisgah and Fall colors in the surrounding area. (Or if you can't make it this season, keep this excursion in mind for a warm summer day, since the cool temperatures of Mt. Pisgah are delightful at that time of year).


Mt. Pisgah is on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Post 407, south of Asheville, NC. There are several areas your dogs will love.


For a moderate hike, try the Buck Spring Gap trail, about 1.5 miles one way, which goes from the Buck Spring Gap Overlook parking area to the Pisgah Inn. There are marvelous views both at the overlook and the Inn. Interesting note: On this trail you'll see a marker and part of the original foundation of George Vanderbilt's mountain hunting lodge. You'll find it hard to imagine that he trekked all the way from the Biltmore Estate to get here! (Of course, he had a lot of help.) The present-day Shut-In Trail generally follows the same path along the Blue Ridge up to the lodge site.


There are numerous other hiking trails near Mt. Pisgah, but the most adventurous is the hike up Mt. Pisgah itself, which this writer has not yet attempted! For more about the Mt. Pisgah Trail, and to access a map of all the trails around Mt. Pisgah, visit the POOCH PATHS page.


Mtpisgahpicnicarea POOCH PICK: Our doggies particularly loved the nearby Mt. Pisgah picnic grove, accessible from its own parking lot. It is a lovely, large wooded area with picnic tables, outdoor grills, and restrooms. We brought tie-outs, hooked them around a table, and let the dogs enjoy their bones while we enjoyed our lunch. What a great spot!


October is Adopt-a-Dog Month

Blackdog The American Humane Association has designated October as Adopt-a-Dog Month. This is a great time to consider doing just that -- adopting a dog. As a reader of this blog, you likely already have at least one dog, but why not consider adopting another -- after all, they're pack animals!

Here in WNC and the Upstate, there seems to be a never-ending supply of dogs at shelters and rescue organizations. So even if you can't adopt right now, tell your friends and family to consider adopting. They'll gain a lifelong, loyal friend.

Please visit the "Adopting a Dog - Shelters" link at the top of this page for more information about adopting and a comprehensive list of shelters in WNC and the Upstate.

Shelters need and deserve our support, and there's a brand new national campaign underway to give animals in shelters a voice -- literally. The Humane Society of the U.S., in conjunction with Maddie's Fund and the Ad Council, have just launched a unique public service ad campaign with spokes-animals as the stars. It is clever and cutting edge, so check it out for yourself: .

Recommended Reading: Inside of a Dog


Have you noticed that more and more books about dogs are on the shelves of bookstores and libraries these days? Both non-fiction books about dogs, and fiction books with dogs as characters, are fetching a lot of interest. One recently published book that's creating buzz goes where no human has gone before (kind of): "Inside of a Dog." Author Alexandra Horowitz takes a novel approach -- she tries to understand, and make us understand, the world from a dog's perspective.

Dog lovers already know, of course, that dogs are driven by their acute sense of smell. Horowitz points out that humans have about 6 million receptor cells in their noses, while a beagle has more than 300 million. She explains what that means in terms of a dog's life -- how a particular odor conveys a message to a dog. More than that, Horowitz says, a dog's sense of smell is the means by which he categorizes and identifies things. Sniffing another dog's urine, in fact, provides a lot of information about the other animal -- "who the urinator is, how often he walks by this spot, his recent victories, and his interest in mating," says Horowitz. Dogs view objects differently too. While we know what a chair is, for example, Horowitz says a dog may see it as just an obstacle that stands in the way of a path to their food bowl in the kitchen.

Unlike their wolf ancestors, the author writes, dogs like making eye contact with humans: "...dogs seem to be predisposed to inspect our faces for information, for reassurance, for guidance."

All in all, going "Inside of a Dog" is fascinating stuff. You can read Chapter One, courtesy of The New York Times, by clicking here. If you'd like to purchase the book online, click Inside of a Dog book now.