As we begin an New Year (and a new decade!), it seems like a good time to review some of the 2010 highlights. We saw economic struggles, a Winter Olympics, the oil spill in the Gulf, the health care debate, the continued rise of Facebook, and many more unforgettable events. And since there aren’t enough lists at this time of year (just kidding!), we have compiled our own. In the first DogTails post of 2011, DogWatch Hidden Fences gives you our first annual “Dog News Review,” featuring the most memorable dog stories of the past year.


Birthday dogOne of our favorite dog photos of the year first premiered way back in January. That’s when Maureen Ravelo snapped a photo of her Bichon Frise-poodle enjoying a special treat on his birthday. The resulting photo (shown at left) captured an unbelievably expressive and contented smile on the one year-old dog’s face. The image quickly became a sensation after a friend posted it on the sharing site For more info on the story, and to see Riley in action, click on the photo to watch a video of the famous dog and his owner on NBC’s “Today” show.


One of our favorite parts of Super Bowl XLIV did not actually take place in Miami. While we applaud the New Orleans Saints’ victory, we confess that we didn’t watch all of the pre-game coverage. Instead, we switched over to Animal Planet from 3-5PM, when it aired its sixth annual “Puppy Bowl.” The event, which is even cuter than it sounds, features lots of adorable puppy playing, aerial coverage of the “field”, rabbit cheerleaders and a kitty halftime show. We can’t wait for Puppy Bowl VII – oh, and Super Bowl XLV, too.


It was the chomp seen ’round the world. Winston, a Pit Bull-Boxer mix, got loose from his yard and attacked a police car, eventually chewing off the entire front bumper. And it was all caught on tape! The amazing video made headlines around the world, and sent Winston to the shelter for a few weeks before being released to his family. The trainers supported his owners’ claim that Winston is a “sweet dog,” but a judge did order obedience training for the powerful pup. Winston’s owner promises that Winston will be “a model citizen” from now on – but just in case, he will add some extra protection in his yard in case a police car drives by again.


Dog hair – the bane of a long-haired dog owner’s existence, right? This May, all that excess fur actually went to good use. On April 20, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and releasing 260 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Many different tactics were used to help stop of the leak and clean up the oil already in the water and on the coast. These tactics included using pet hair to soak up the oil. Groomers around the country collected hair and sent it to the Gulf. Petco even set a goal of gathering 5 tons of hair by the end of May. We applaud the idea, and we hope we will never need to use it like this ever again.


ABC’s “Lost,” one of America’s most popular and engrossing TV shows (at least for fans of the show), came to an end in May. And joining the reunited cast in an emotional finale was a beautiful, blond costar. That’s right, in the final moments of the series (we promise we won’t spoil it for you!), Vincent the golden retriever gave comfort to a main character one last time. It was an unforgettable moment, and we applaud his fantastic acting. Somebody give that dog an Emmy!


In a year filled with contentious politicians and heated policy debates, there is only one thing about Congress this year that we can all agree on: they have some mighty cute dogs! In June, the Washington Post compiled a fun slideshow of the dogs that accompany these elected officials to their Capitol Hill offices. We cast our vote for these political pups!


This July marked the homecoming for a pair of truly heroic dogs. Stray dogs Target and Rufus saved the lives of 50 soldiers in Afghanistan by attacking an intruder. One thankful solider, Chris Duke, contacted aid organizations and created a Facebook page to raise money to bring the dogs home to the U.S. He eventually raised $21,000. Rufus now lives with Duke and his family in Georgia, and Target found a home with another solider in Arizona. We thank you, Rufus and Target, and your brave owners, for your courage.


“Good night, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” That familiar rhyme gain a whole new meaning this summer, as these tiny, hard-to-get-rid-of creatures invaded homes, hotels and stores across the country. Luckily, some dogs came to the rescue. Beagles, German shepherds and more used their powerful noses to help find the bugs, who like to hide in carpets, furniture and, of course, beds. Keep sniffing, Fido!

giant georgeSeptember

The folks behind the Guinness Book of World Records arranged the year’s most memorable playdate this September in New York’s Central Park. To promote this year’s edition of record book, they brought together two extremes: Giant George the Great Dane, the world’s tallest dog and Boo the Chihuahua, the world’s smallest dog. In this entertaining video about the meet-up, we learned that 43-inch tall Giant George sleeps on his own Queen-sized mattress, and that 4-inch tall Boo’s food dish is a teaspoon! Amazing!


It’s Halloween – the spookiest time of the year. But these costumed pets, collected in an entertaining slideshow on Martha Stewart’s website, are not scary – they are adorable. Enjoy!


At last, a redhead takes the crown! No, we are not talking about Miss America – we’re talking about the National Dog Show, broadcast on NBC on Thanksgiving Day. This year’s winner is Clooney, a stunning three year-old Irish setter from Washington state. If you missed any of the coverage, or if your want to catch your favorite breed prancing around the ring again, visit the NBC website for clips.


Usually, when someone says that they want to adopt a dog, we all cheer. That was not so for many of you, however, when Michael Vick said it. Vick, the talented quarterback who was convicted of animal cruelty and sent to jail for his involvement in a dog fighting ring, has worked hard this year to rehabilitate his image on and off the football field, racking up impressive statistics while also speaking to at-risk youth about the horrors of dog fighting. Yet many dog lovers were adamant that Vick should not be allowed to adopt a dog, given his violent history. The debate still rages on, almost four years after this shocking, tragic and very public case of animal cruelty.

To end on a more positive note, we were relived to discover that many of the dogs rescued from Vick’s estate have been rehabilitated and are now leading happy lives with families who treasure them. To learn more about these amazingly resilient Pit Bulls, read Jim Gorant’s 2010 book The Lost Dogs.

Did we miss any of your favorite or most compelling dog stories of this year? Tell us here in the comments, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy New Year to you, your family and, of course, your dog!

Photo Credit: Jacob Chinn/Guinness World Records
Location: Tucson, Arizona

“Birthday Dog” Photo Credit: Maureen Ravelo

“Giant George” Photo Credit: Jacob Chinn/Guinness World Records