Dogs in the News: January 2021

Posted by Scott Tunstall

Similar to celebrities and political figures, dogs often find themselves in the news. However, unlike their two-legged counterparts, canines usually grab headlines for all the right reasons. From 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to small town Michigan, here’s a roundup of Dogs in the News this month.

1. Champ and Major Become First Dogs

First Lady and First Dogs. Photo by @firstfamilydogs

After Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, his German Shepherds, Champ and Major, will officially become the White House’s First Dogs. Champ, of course, is no stranger to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, having visited the iconic grounds when Biden served as Vice President from 2008 to 2016. Now 12 years old, Champ will no doubt enjoy taking long naps in the Oval Office.

At 2 years old, Major is the newest member of the Biden family. After fostering the puppy for several months, Joe and wife Jill officially adopted him from the Delaware Humane Association in November 2018. The shelter will be hosting a virtual "indoguration" to celebrate Major becoming the first shelter dog to become First Dog. The newest presidential pup can look forward to fetching tennis balls on sunny days in the Rose Garden.

2. New Dog Breed Recognized

New kid on the block. Photo by @americankennelclub

Don’t look now, but there’s a new dog breed in town! The toy breed is known as the Biewer (pronounced like “beaver”) Terrier, and was officially recognized by The American Kennel Club earlier this month. The Biewer is now eligible to compete in best in show events across the U.S., including the famed Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which will be held on June 12 and 13 of this year. First bred in Germany during the 1980s, the Biewer is known for its perky face, flowing coat and easygoing demeanor, similar to a Yorkshire Terrier.

3. Goldendoodle Siblings Reunite by Chance

Reunited and it feels so good. Photo by

When a Goldendoodle named Dolly and her owner, Jessica Zic, went for a walk in Nashville’s Centennial Dog Park the week before Christmas, little did they know they would create a lasting memory. Dolly spotted another Goldendoodle named Wally across the park and the two became fast friends. Wally’s owner, Becky, had randomly stopped in Nashville while traveling from Chicago to Florida.

As the two pups played, Becky recognized Dolly from a photo she’d seen on Instagram. She soon realized Dolly and Wally were in fact brother and sister. Born in Wheaton, MO, in May 2020, the estranged siblings hadn’t seen one another since they were adopted at 8 weeks old. Their happy reunion ended up being an early Christmas gift delivered by pure happenstance.

4. Ben & Jerry’s Releases Ice Cream for Dogs

"Back off!" Photo by

We might be in the middle of a chilly winter, but Fido never saw a frozen treat he wouldn’t devour. Nobody knows this better than Ben & Jerry’s. The ice cream experts just unveiled two yummy flavors of Doggie Desserts, Pontch’s Mix and Rosie’s Mix. The former combines peanut butter and pretzel swirls, while the latter infuses pumpkin and mini-cookies into a sunflower butter base.

This delectable duo will be sold in 4-ounce cups and 4-count multipacks, and available to scoop up in supermarkets and select pet stores beginning this month. The flavors are even named after real pups who are often found roaming the halls at the company’s headquarters. Ben & Jerry’s refers to them as “K9-to-5ers.”

5. Disabled Missing Dog Returns Home After 10 Months

Happy New Year! Photo by Gateway Pet Guardians

A Missouri pet parent received a Happy New Year gift when he was reunited with his long-lost pup. Dylan Summers, a resident of Bourbon, MO, spent most of last year desperately searching for his dog, Athena, who went missing in February 2020 following surgery to remove one of her legs. As the year came to an end, a distraught Summers was close to giving up his search until a friend made a surprising discovery.

Summers’ friend stumbled across a photo of Athena while looking for a dog to adopt on Gateway Pet Guardians' website. Gateway Pet Guardians, located an hour from Bourbon in East St. Louis, rescued Athena and several other at-risk animals from a negligent property in early December. Summers immediately notified the shelter and was reunited with Athena on New Year’s Day.

6. New Harness Developed to Protect Parachuting Military Dogs

Heroes of the sky. Photo by Cairo the Navy SEAL Canine Commando

Protecting military working dogs deployed on the front lines is a challenge for armed forces around the globe. This is especially the case for canine paratroopers dropped into remote areas with their handlers. To help reduce the risk of leg injuries, Paratec, a company based in Germany, developed a flight pod designed specifically for parachuting dogs.

The K9F Para-fox allows pups to be securely harnessed inside a pod-tray that resembles a cushioned taco shell. The flexible pod-tray zips around dogs and enables them to lie down as they are trained, with both hind and front legs folded beneath their bodies. It then locks them in place with a magnetic collar that can only be activated by the handler. Once on the ground, the flight pod easily unfolds in less than 10 seconds. So far, the high-tech harness has proven to be a great success.

7. Animal Shelters Are Running Out of Dogs to Adopt

Welcome to the family. Photo by

Animal shelters nationwide are running short on adoptable dogs due to the high demand since the beginning of the pandemic. According to Shelter Animals Count, 2020 saw a 15% uptick in pet adoptions from the previous year. One shelter, Last Chance Animal Rescue in Waldorf, MD, saw a 30% to 40% increase in total adoptions as compared to 2019.

With waiting lists getting longer, many shelters like Last Chance are traveling to other regions of the country to meet the demand. However, even the normally overcrowded rescues in states like Texas, South Carolina and Georgia are starting to run low. The extra work and stress involved with locating pups pales in comparison to the joy felt in finding them forever homes. Cindy Sharpley, founder and director of Last Chance Animal Rescue, said it best: “It’s a wonderful problem to have.”

What’s your favorite recent Dogs in the News story? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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