dogs

It's a few minutes before services on a Sunday morning at Bethany United Methodist Church in West Jefferson, N.C. The handbell choir warms up and an acolyte lights candles.

Church member Peggy Lynn Gibson walks in with her dog, a stout, cream-colored golden retriever named Rocky. The congregants greet Rocky like an old friend.

"How are you? You're a sweetheart," one man says to the dog. "And so are you," the man tells Gibson.

Pastor Dan Money welcomes the congregation as Rocky, an honorary church member, settles in at Gibson's feet in a pew near the back.

As the owner of a yellow lab named Gus, author Maria Goodavage has had many occasions to bathe her pooch when he rolls around in smelly muck at the park.

Nevertheless, her appreciation for his keen sense of smell has inspired her write best-selling books about dogs with special assignments in the military and the U.S. Secret Service.

Some wolf puppies are unexpectedly willing to play fetch, according to scientists who saw young wolves retrieve a ball thrown by a stranger and bring it back at that person's urging.

This behavior wouldn't be surprising in a dog. But wolves are thought to be less responsive to human cues because they haven't gone through thousands of years of domestication.

Hugging a dog is one life's greatest joys. Getting to see fur on four legs and a wagging tail is like experiencing a love drug — quite literally.

Dogs and humans that interact with one another get a jolt of oxytocin, the so-called "cuddle hormone." And, if you get to look at dogs and hug them every day, you just might live longer than people who don't have to clean animal hair off their clothes, according to a pair of studies out this month.

Zebra and quagga mussels can devastate an ecosystem, and Yellowstone National Park is doing everything it can to keep them out. Most recently, that includes harnessing the power of a dog's snout.

It all started on a Tuesday night, when I came home from work to an unmistakable absence. My brown-and-white pit bull mix, Maizey, wasn't at the top of the stairs to greet me. Instead she was in her bed, shaky and confused.

When I tried to get her up, she stumbled, nearly falling over while standing still. Walking to the vet, she leaped like a puppy chasing imaginary balls.

Later, at the 24-hour veterinary clinic in San Francisco's Mission District, the staff ran some tests and determined Maizey was in no immediate danger.

As human activities are increasingly threatening animal species, scientists say turtles are at a significant risk because of climate change. In Iowa, conservationists are taking an unconventional approach to finding and protecting turtles, with an unlikely helper.

A retired schoolteacher has trained his hunting dogs to find the reptiles for researchers. Counting the creatures will help conservationists manage the land better.

A new IMAX movie opens with a rescue worker named Henry dangling from a helicopter, working to save a skier trapped in an avalanche.

Henry wears a vest and goggles and, oh, by the way, is a border collie.

"Henry is like the real-life James Bond of dogs," says Daniel Ferguson, director of Superpower Dogs.

The film follows six remarkable dogs who work in fields such as avalanche and water rescue, endangered species protection, and emotional support.

Nestled in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge mountains near Shenandoah National Park, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has an academy for dogs.

At this peaceful — except for the barking — and in the ATF's term, "pristine" setting, agents train the animals to detect explosives and chemical accelerants used in arson cases.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. watched during a recent exhibition at the facility, as the dogs ran around a large gymnasium-like room, with metal cans and suitcases, some of them with traces of explosives, on the floor.

Photo by Maj. Guy Hayes / Army Medicine

In the wake of two dogs testing positive for rabies, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment wants pet owners and livestock owners to make sure their animals’ rabies shots are up to date.

The two dogs -- one in Yuma, one in Weld County -- had to be euthanized after showing symptoms of rabies. These were the first reported cases of rabies in Colorado dogs since 1974.