"Remember these rules," said my new housemate Adam about my other new housemate, Diablo, a wolf-German shepherd mix who looked as though he had eaten more jugular veins than Snausages. "Don't make quick moves, don't try to touch him, don't look him in the eye, and you'll probably be fine."
I was 6 months out of college and hauling my cheap belongings into a cheaper Salt Lake City bungalow. Adam, an Apache construction worker, explained that he'd rescued his dog from a sadistic drunkard who had beaten the animal half to death with a golf iron. Then Diablo growled as if I were the guy's caddy.
"Quiet," Adam told the beast, not unkindly. Diablo's growling ratcheted down, but only a notch. No wonder the rent was so cheap.
For the next 3 weeks, the growl never stopped. I almost got used to it, the way I almost got used to navigating the bungalow with my eyes trained on the ceiling. Every once in a while, Diablo sniffed my groin with his elongated snout, which could snap moose femurs like pretzel sticks. It was all I could do to keep from fainting.
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Our relationship changed one searing afternoon in August. Having come home early for lunch, I heard Diablo snarling at me from his fenced lair in the backyard. His growling carried its usual tone of hatred, but I sensed an additional chord, the barest tone of vulnerability in the heart of the largest carnivore I'd ever lived with.
As slowly and reassuringly as I could, I approached the fence. "It's okay, buddy," I said, trying to channel Saint Francis. "Easy, boy."
Diablo's problem was soon apparent: He'd upended his water dish in the 101° heat. What I decided to do next terrified me, but the alternative -- doing nothing -- seemed as cruel as beating the brute with a sand wedge. I unlocked the gate and slowly, slowly moved inside his territory. I could feel Diablo's breath on my leg, the guttural vibrations of his growl. Smoothly, slowly, I reached for the water dish, righted it, filled it from the wall spigot, and retreated. The growl was silenced by desperate, maybe even grateful, lapping from the dish.
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When I returned home at 6:30 that night, Adam was cooking his dinner, and Diablo was in his usual evening spot beside his master's La-Z-Boy. He was sitting on his haunches, watching me silently. The growl had stopped.
From that point on, our bond deepened.
If you've ever become best friends with a former bully, you know how gratifying it can be. With Diablo beside me, I felt invulnerable -- it was as if I'd developed a superpower. In the eons before modern weaponry, dogs like Diablo must have bestowed a sense of invincibility upon those fortunate human beings they trusted.
I got a delicious taste of this a month later, when I was jolted from a deep sleep by the sounds of Diablo in a rage. A couple of my ne'er-do-well friends had broken in at 3 a.m. to invite me out for drinks, which they had hoped I'd pay for. Diablo backed the slackers against a wall.
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I gave him an affectionate scratch behind his ears, which, of course, did nothing to calm him. "You know what they say about sleeping dogs, eh, fellas?"
After a quick recitation of Adam's list of "don'ts," I hugged Diablo around his neck and watched my friends slink off into the night. The last thing they heard in retreat was my voice switching to pupspeak.
"Who's a good boy, Diablo? Who's a good boy? You are! Oh, yes you are!"
pics, advice, info and stories for pet lovers
They lay, they play, and they take selfies with supermodels. Meet 5 of the most social media-savvy pets—animals taking control of their own fashionable online image.
A recent study shows why
Not many leading ladies have four legs, lots of hair and, well, dog breath. But that hasn’t stopped Chris Naka from posing alongside office pooch Wrigley in a series of pictures recreating iconic scenes from romantic movies. Naka, 30, told Today that the fun began when he and his creative coworkers at the Blue Man Group in Chicago decided to use the last few minutes of their lunch break to pose their boss’ dog with him in a scene from Titanic. And an idea was born. “Someone printed a bunch of our early pictures, posted them in the green room, and folks from all over the theater started sending emails with movie suggestions,” he said. Check out some of their funny (and bizarre) pictures here.
We talked to 122 veterinary professionals and got their take on which canines are the smartest of them all.
This year, Animal Planet is pulling out all the stops for Puppy Bowl X. The tenth-anniversary extravaganza promises penguin cheerleaders, canine first responders singing the National Anthem, and special appearances by Lil Bub and Keyboard Cat, who will be performing a piano-filled rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” during the kitten halftime show. Best of all, continuing the tradition of showcasing adoptable pets, all the puppy players are up for adoption or have already found forever families. We’re hoping that the pups are watching themselves on TV from the comfort of their new homes. The main event starts at 3 p.m. EST on February 2 on Animal Planet. As you wait for the most anticipated event of the season, check out the starting lineup of some of our favorite Puppy Bowl players. And be sure to head to the Animal Planet site later this month to create your own Puppy Bowl fantasy league. Out of 11 all-star puppies, participants will be able to pick a fantasy team of three players.
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We recently listed the top five smartest dog breeds as chosen by veterinary professionals, and, unsurprisingly, our readers were quick to comment on other breeds that show enormous intelligence. Now we're sharing another result from that survey of 122 veterinary professionals. We aren't going to say "least intelligent" because all dogs have their own kind of genius, right? But we will say that in the opinion of the surveyed veterinary professionals, the breeds named here aren't necessarily known for their cleverness even if they are known for having many wonderful characteristics. Of course, please know that in no way are we saying these dogs aren't smart or aren't trainable. They just might not keep up with the Border Collie in their obedience class. And that's OK — whether our pets sit at the front of the class or flunk out of puppy school, we love them just the same.
Typically, cats don't rush up and bombard you with kisses like some dogs, but many do display genuine friendliness. Happy-to-be-with-you cats range from the demure lap lounger to the chatty feline who escorts you from room to room. Vetstreet shines the spotlight on nine feline breeds with stellar reputations for thoroughly enjoying the company of their favorite people.
Do you find it hard to sit still? Would you rather spend your time running and playing and working outdoors instead of lounging at home on the couch? If so, you may have met your match in these breeds. We polled 122 veterinary experts to get their opinions on which dog breeds are the most energetic. Here are the five that received the most votes!
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Researchers say invention can tell you what your dog is thinking.