_From the upheaval in Tehran Tuesday, where the British embassy was attacked by an angry Iranian mob, an interesting story about a dog caught my eye.  In the destructive aftermath of the raid, a British diplomat returned to rescue his dog that he left behind.  Firstly, I’m surprised that the dog is still alive.  This is a country where human life is fragile, let alone the life of a dog.  But miraculously, the dog survived and they were reunited.  Now, I don’t know if there were angry people still storming the building when he returned to retrieve his dog, but I’m guessing it wasn’t the safest place to be!  That’s a pretty courageous British dude.   But I’m also guessing that most of you would probably do the same thing.  I know I would. 

If you're ever traveling the coast of California and need a good place to stop in between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Shell Beach is it.  Shell Beach is technically located in the northern most part of Pismo Beach proper.  If you take the Shell Beach EXIT off of the US101 freeway, you will find a small park just a few blocks South (see map below).  Along the way you'll notice a bunch of places to stop and eat or pickup refreshments for the remainder of your drive.  Once you get to the park, there is plenty of grass for your pooch to stretch their legs.  If you have kids, there's a small play ground right in the middle.  And of course a clean bathroom for us!  It always helps to catch a glimpse of that beautiful California coastal view.  
Maybe, just maybe JoJo will get a white elephant gift!
Okay, c'mon.  This morning I was watching my favorite show, Sunday Morning on CBS and Mo Rocca did a great job (as usual) on piece, Pet custody battles that heat up (6-min video).  Now, as ridiculous as this sounds, I'd be pretty bummed if I couldn't hang out with JoJo anymore.  I immediately told my wife that I'd get JoJo...anyways, It seems as though many of the couples do not have kids and therefore their pets become their focus for custody.  Which makes sense.  I also found it interesting that the law considers pets as property and no consideration is given to what is best for the animal.  Sad but true.  I especially love the clip from War of the Roses
Pet separation anxiety...who's the one with anxiety? 

Since we'll be traveling the next few weeks, we've chosen for JoJo to stay with my parents for an entire month!  We like to think of it as JoJo's own vacation, from the monotony of life.  In LA, she enjoys the company of Nerone and the care of two full time retirees.  She runs free in the garden, tumbles around with her buddy Nerone and sleeps in the luxurious guest bedroom with a queen size bed all to herself!  What a life.  Trust me, she's not suffering form anxiety! 

But for us, back at home it's like an empty-nest trial run!  Weird.  No dog to walk.  No dog to greet you when you come home.  Ahhh...Pet separation anxiety.
When I was looking for a dog, the thought of rescuing one from a shelter never crossed my mind.  I think back to that time and I'm actually somewhat disappointed that I did not explore my options.  Instead, I researched various responsible breeders and paid a significant amount of $$ for JoJo, a French Bulldog. I could of chosen to rescue a purebred, French Bulldog...but didn't think to look. Of course, I don't regret getting JoJo, but I do regret not even considering to adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter.  Obviously, there are millions of perfectly healthy shelter animals, capable of making a great pet, that are euthanized every year.  So I asked myself, what are the benefits of each and on what basis do we choose?      

There are those who simply find a specific breed more appealing.  Either they think it's cute or the dog portrays a certain image.  An image that they perceive for themselves.  For some, its a status symbol.  I also expected that a purebred would be without problems, both physically and behaviorally.  Yes, of course purebreds can theoretically suffer from hereditary diseases, but my thought was, a "good" breeder would minimize this risk.  Secondly, I feared that a mutt would carry a lot of "baggage" and therefore exhibit behavioral issues.  Raising a puppy from the very beginning seemed to offer a greater chance of success.   
On the other hand, mutts are said to be smarter and healthier, in general.  I don't think that there is hard data to actually prove this, but it's safe to say that mutts have the potential to be just as smart as any purebred.  And of course, they benefit from a wide gene pool which makes them less susceptible to genetic defects.  But that is not to say, that they are somehow impervious to disease.  Obviously.  And with regards to portraying an image, its probably possible to find a dog that suits you.  You just need to look a little harder.  Mutts are considerably less expensive than purebreds.  Last but not least, it comes down to compassion.

So, which do you prefer?     
It never fails.  No matter what I'm doing in the kitchen...there is JoJo.  Sitting calmly, but attentively.  In the perfect position, ready to pounce on falling scraps.  Admittedly, we kinda-sorta trained her to do this.  It's just so hard NOT to give her a treat from the cutting board (assuming it's safe!).  This dog loves everything...carrots, lettuce, artichokes...bread...you name it, she'll try it (perfect for our family).  But we always pay careful attention when handling our knives and frying pans.  Today JoJo and Nerone (Sous chef) helped make fresh bread, stuffing and carrots.  But were kicked out as soon as they began rough housing.  Okay gotta get the turkey in the oven!!! 
...she would:
1.  Curse like a drunken sailor (born in the East Bay)
2.  Drop out of high school (stubborn little bulldog)
3.  Drive a Hummer (she will crush anything in her path)
4.  Have a tattoo that says, "I'm not a Boston.  ___hole!"
5.  Be a Raider fan (no face paint needed)
6.  Drink RedBull and Vodka (Grey Goose MuthaF#$#ka)
Interesting article out of Texas where an animal shelter has been hit by a flu bug.  I can only remember a few instances when JoJo has exhibited flu-like symptoms and it was very mild.  Not even sure if she really had the flu or not.  According to the CDC, symptoms include, "...cough, runny nose and fever, however, a small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease."  Canine influenza originated in horses and jumped over to dogs back in 2005.  Dog flu is NOT seasonal.   It can be spread just like the human influenza and the same precautions should be taken.  For example, those public water bowls for dogs at the mall...that could be a mode of transmission.  Of course the only way to confirm if your dog has influenza is to visit the vet (fever and blood test), but unfortunately there isn't much they can do...drink lots of water and get lots of rest.  Heard that before! 

Is there a dog influenza vaccine?  Yes, there is (from Merck, called Nobivac).  Approved in 2009 (see NY Times article).  The dog flu can be especially dangerous for flat-faced dogs...because the dog is congested and breathing is more difficult.  Frencies beware!  Ask your vet if it's worth getting.  It costs around 30 bucks and there are clinics.

All in all, the dog flu hasn't spread too bad...it exists mostly in animal shelters and pet hotels/kennels.  Perhaps a good question to ask before you board your dog for the holidays!      

"I feel great!"
So it's the holidays again...traveling to the parents house, to the sisters house, to the in-laws house...all over southern California!  And of course JoJo in tow!  The problem is that everyone has gotten a new dog within the last few years.  And unfortunately, JoJo is somewhat of a pain in the butt when it comes to other dogs.  She loves to harass them!  Not to mention that JoJo is a flight risk.  If she sees an open door...she will escape!  Add the raw energy of kids and you got a big chaotic headache on your hands.

Meet Nerone, the Miniature Australian Shephard.

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