Dogged Pursuits

by Tara Flanagan on February 1, 2011

At last count, we Americans had roughly 77.5 million dogs among our ranks. Nearly 40 percent of our households contain at least one dog, and despite the recession, we are spending record amounts on our curs. If you doubt our willingness to spend big, consider Neuticles, a testicular implant that restores “anatomical preciseness” to neutered dogs. The cost? $919. For a pair, naturally.

1. Complete WTF situation
A former University of Colorado student was sentenced last summer to a month in jail and three years’ probation for taping her boyfriend’s dog to their refrigerator. Boulder police encountered a complete WTF situation when they entered the boyfriend’s apartment on a domestic dispute complaint and noticed that things were not going at all well for little Rex the shiba inu. Apparently Abby Toll had been upset about the dog’s behavior as well as her boyfriend paying more attention to the dog than her, and she played out her frustration by binding the animal’s feet and snout, then encasing him in packing tape and sticking him to the fridge. The judge denied a prosecutor’s request for Rex to enter the courtroom for the sentencing. Toll, meanwhile, has been ordered to stay away from animals during her probation. She could have faced up to 18 months in prison for felony animal cruelty, which would have gone over well with throngs of outraged animal rights activists. The dog was adopted into a new home that does not use packing tape for discipline.

2. Top dogs
It’s no surprise that the Northeast U.S. dominates any one-upsmanship relating to hot dogs, but last year Jane and Michael Stern, founders of roadfood.com, included two Western eateries in their Best Hot Dogs in America list. Otto’s Sausage Kitchen in Portland received honors for their vaunted chicken dogs, smoky Octoberfest sausage, bockwurst and Cajun andouille, while Tucson’s Sonoran Dog was recognized for being flipping amazing. The bacon-wrapped frank is topped with tomatoes, beans, “an artistic squiggle” of mayo and hot sauce, and served with a roasted and stuffed guero pepper, all on a soft bun from a Mexican bakery.

3. He was quite breathtaking
People have ugly dog contests to the point where they barely merit mention, but Sam, the world champion ugliest dog from 2003-2005, made your average chupacabra look like Lassie in comparison. The rescue from which he was adopted initially deemed him as too old and ugly to re-home (he also was blind), but a woman who already had a squad of hairless, ugly dogs saw his championship qualities and took him in, repeatedly winning the esteemed Sonoma-Marin County Fair contest among the world’s most revolting curs. The white-eyed, snaggle-toothed Sam dominated the ugly dog scene until his death, and while other Chinese cresteds have stepped up to the winner’s podium, it’s doubtful that any will surpass his attributes. Sam was so well known that he appeared on TV with Donald Trump, making The Donald’s combover (“No animals have been harmed in the creation of my hairstyle,” he has said against allegations of wearing a toupé) look downright hot. Go to samugliestdog.com to see what we mean.

4. Doghouse
Speaking of hair, the ever-reliable internet has several snippets of celebrated bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman residing, at least part time, in Castle Rock, CO. A report said he had “roamed the area wearing festive garb and mingling with the locals.” No word if he placed any of them in headlocks and, his golden locks flowing, dragged them away at gunpoint with buxom wife No. 5, Beth, nearby and ready to assist. Oddly enough, Dog served as the warden’s barber at the Texas State Penitentiary, where he served two years of a five-year sentence in connection with a gang killing in the 1970s.

5. Love those curs
Albuquerque is frequently rated among the country’s most dog-friendly locales, flanked by Portland, Colorado Springs, Seattle and even Las Vegas. With plenty of nearby trails and restaurants that reward curs with biscuits, the Duke City is a good place to have a dog or four. It ranked No. 8 in BellaDog’s 2010 top-ten list, and Forbes put Albuquerque at No. 3 in its 2007 survey.

6. That’s one big dog
George, a Great Dane who weighs in at 245 pounds (that’s not a typo) and stands 43 inches at the shoulder and 7 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail, is the new Tallest Dog Ever in the Guinness Book of World Records. A resident of Tucson, George consumes 110 pounds of kibble each month (you do the math on what his owner, Dave Nasser, has to pick up in his back yard) and has his own queen-sized bed. George beat out record-holder Titan, a Great Dane from California, by three-quarters of an inch.

7. Hero dogs
The West abounds with hero-dog stories. There’s Willy the Weimaraner waking his almost-unconscious owner and forcing her to leave their house, which had filled with carbon monoxide (Los Alamos, N.M.) There’s the story about two dogs that were rafting with their family on the Colorado River. When the raft flipped, Bo the Labrador was trapped under the raft with one of his owners. He emerged, but dove back under the raft and pulled her out by the hair. She then held his tail as he swam through the rough water to shore. There’s also the recent and horribly sad story of Target, a dog adopted by troops in Afghanistan. Target saved a group of 50 soldiers by attacking a suicide bomber with two other dogs. Featured on Oprah, among much other notoriety, Target came home to Florence, Ariz. with Sgt. Terry Young. She got out of her yard on a Friday, and was accidentally euthanized at an animal shelter the following Monday before her owners could claim her.


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