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News and insights from special guests—from experts to enthusiasts.

 

Hiking with the Help of a Pup
A guide dog helps his partner complete grueling thru-hikes.
Recently I was hiking on the Appalachian Trail and was reminded of an amazing human-canine team. Ten years ago, Trevor Thomas lost his eyesight and moved into a small room in his parent's basement. Being an avid mountain biker and snowboarder, Trevor had a hard time adjusting to his new life. He could no longer hold a job or even do simple tasks like tell time. Soon Trevor fell into a deep depression that he calls "being on death row in a self-imposed prison."

Then his life was turned around by long distance hiking and his seeing eye dog, Tennille. Trevor began in 2008 with a solo thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He figured, if he could walk from Georgia to Maine, he could do anything. Since then Trevor has walked more than 20,000 miles on some of the country's loneliest and toughest long-distance trails.

On the trail Trevor feels normal, calling nature the great equalizer since it treats everyone the same. Trevor has learned to listen to the sound of the wind to "see" the landscape. He can tell if there are rock walls, valleys, hills, and water. Trevor says every time he comes out on the trail, his sound vocabulary grows.

Trevor would hike with his group, Team FarSight, until he got his seeing eye dog, Tennille. Since then the pair trekked nearly 6,000 miles just the two of them. They've completed North Carolina's nearly 1,000 mile Mountains to Seat Trail, the only hikers to have completed the challenge that year. In 2014, they finished the Long Trail in New England and in 2015, they did a thru hike of the 500 mile Colorado Trail.

They're an amazing team. Tennille knows how tall Trevor is and can warn him about low-handing branches. She can also find trails, water, and even campsites. Trevor says he's the big picture guy and Tennille does the "detail stuff." They're perfect hiking partners together.

Now Trevor lives independently in Charlotte, N.C. and makes a living speaking to others about what you can you achieve when you push your limits. Trevor and Tennille are currently on the Appalachian Trail again and you can follow their progress on Facebook.

Get Started On Doggy DIY
How to craft your dog a better life.

In this piece, we give you some fantastic ways to treat your dog by building them some really simple and engaging toys. Not only will you be giving your dog something he’ll love and cherish, you’ll also be keeping the cost down, which is another bonus!

These ideas include some really fun toys, a feeding station, a doggy puzzle to get your pooch thinking, an awesome washing station and a really easy to make dog house.

Doggy DIY
Doggy DIY" by PowerTool World.

Did Dogs Arise on Opposite Sides of Eurasia?
An international group of scientists proposes dual domestication from wolves.

Among the many hotly debated topics related to the appearance of dogs in the lives of humans is how often and where it first occurred. In their landmark 1997 paper on dog origins, Robert K. Wayne, Carles Vilá, and their colleagues made the case for multiple origins, but many other students of dog evolution, including Peter Savolainen, a co-author on that paper, have repeatedly and strongly argued for a single place of origin.

In this week’s Science magazine (June 3, 2016) [the article is available here, gratis], Laurent Frantz of Oxford University’s ancient dog program, writing for more than a score of his colleagues from institutions around the world, presents the case for dual domestication of Paleolithic wolves in Western Eurasia and Eastern Asia. According to this hypothesis, a now extinct ancestral wolf split into at least two genetically distinct populations on opposite sides of the Eurasian continent where they encountered and joined forces with humans to become dogs.

Frantz and his coauthors pin much of their argument on analysis and comparison of the fully sequenced genome of a 4,800- year old dog unearthed at Newgrange, Ireland, to other ancient and modern dogs and modern wolves. They found it retained “a degree of ancestry” different from modern dogs or modern wolves. Using that and other evidence the researchers argue that the most comprehensive model for the appearance of the dog involves at least two domestication events 15,000 or more years ago. Frantz writes: “The eastern dog population then dispersed westward alongside humans at some point between 6,400 and 14,000 years ago, into Western Europe (10,11, 20), where they partially replaced an indigenous Paleolithic dog population. Our hypothesis reconciles previous studies that have suggested that domestic dogs originated either in East Asia (9, 19) or in Europe (7).”

I asked Greger Larson, co-director of the Oxford project and corresponding author on the paper, just what were the boundaries of “Western Eurasia,” comprised apparently of Europe and the Middle East, and “Eastern Asia?” He answered in an email that the boundaries were left deliberately vague because where wolves became dogs remains unknown, like the date itself.

In Science, Frantz writes: [W]e calculated the divergence time between two modern Russian wolves used in the study and the modern dogs to be 60,000 to 20,000 years ago.” The first number puts the dog in the time when Neanderthal was still the big kid on the European block, raising the possibility that Neanderthal had protodogs or that early modern humans came to Europe with dogs or soon allied with wolves. Either of the first two  prospects must have set off alarms in some circles for Frantz cautions that those dates should not be taken as “a time frame for domestication” because the wolves they used may not have been “closely related to the population(s) that gave rise to dogs.”

Fundamentally, this paper is at once a bold attempt to come up with a workable hypothesis to explain the appearance of the dog in human affairs and a tentative step into troubled waters. Left unanswered are virtually all outstanding questions regarding the who, what, when, where, and why of the transformation of wolves to dogs. Geographically all it does is exclude Central Asia. Whether it does so wrongly may depend on how you define Central  Asia geographically.  

What makes it bold and radical even is the suggestion that early humans and wolves could have gotten together wherever and whenever they met on the trail of the big game they were following.  There are many reasons for that including similar social and familial cultures, but humans and wolves could have joined forces to have become more successful hunters. We learn from Wolves on the Hunt: The Behavior of Wolves Hunting Prey by L. David Mech, Douglas W. Smith, and Daniel R. MacNulty (Chicago, 2016) that while wolves appear excellent at finding and trailing game, they are not very good at making the kill, succeeding perhaps half the time. It is dangerous work at which humans with their weapons excel.

Imagine the scene: Human hunters locate wolves on the hunt by watching ravens who are known to follow them. Human hunters move in for the kill and take as many animals as they can. If smart, they might share immediately with the wolves. If not, the wolves might consume what the humans do not carry off or follow them back to their encampment to take what they can.

The rest is a tale of accommodation through socialization—the ability to bond with another being—and all that entails. 

 

This article originally appeared in Psychology Today's Dog's Best Friend, used with permission.

App Review: Dog Food Hazards
Quick access to list of foods our pups should avoid.

Although we're inundated with apps these days some information is worth carrying around with us for quick access. The newly released Dog: Food Hazards app (android, free) is a very simple app dedicated to one topic, as you might have guessed, hazardous foods dogs should avoid.

Featuring a simplified layout for quick navigation, one can refresh their knowledge of dangerous foods for dogs and get information on symptoms caused by each featured food type. As a bonus they’ve prominently placed access to ASPCA’s pet poison hotline so it is quickly accessible too.

Unfortunately, the list of food hazards is limited, so it may not be helpful for people looking to delve deeply into the topic. While Dog: Food Hazards is a fairly barebones app, we enjoy the peace of mind that comes with its ease of access to information that every dog owner should know.

12 Houseplants That Are Dangerous to Dogs (and Cats!)

This inforgraphic is a good reminder that we should consider our dogs when picking plants for both inside and out. According the ASPCA, their poison control hotline receives around 150,000 calls annually from pet owners needing assistance with possible poison-related emergencies. This inforgraphic is based on a list of toxic plants from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's most common causes of emergency calls and Texas A&M ’s “Common Poisonous Plants and Plant Parts ”. The infographic gives you a break down of the risks to your dog (and cat!) and warning signs to look out for.

An Unlikely Patient on the Front Lines
Army surgeon Colonel Fredrick Lough reflects on treating a Czech war dog in Afghanistan.
Colonel Fredrick Lough has had a long career with the military, serving as a surgeon for the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1970 to 1987, and returning in 2007, at the age of 58, after seeing soldiers in harm's way in the Middle East. Colonel Lough was deployed twice to Afghanistan where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Colonel Lough performed hundreds of surgeries while on the front lines, but there was one in particular that was a little different than the rest.

One day, after a mortar attack, a Czech soldier came onto base carrying a bleeding Belgian Malinois named Athos. The dog belonged to Sergeant Rostislav Bartončík and was trained to search for explosives. The attack left Athos with a huge open wound, a damaged urethra, and fragments of shrapnel.

Colonel Lough and another surgeon decided to take action. While they didn't have experience treating dogs, they figured that they knew how to control bleeding. The team stabilized Athos, cleaned the wound, and coordinated a transfusion with blood from another dog. After their work was done, Athos was taken by helicopter to larger base, and then to Germany to recover. Athos was later honored with a plaque, bone, and leather collar by the Czech government for his heroism.

Reflecting on that day, Colonel Lough says that the experience felt totally different from other surgeries. Having a dog on the operating table invoked a bit of home for everyone in the room and brought out a unique emotional response from all those involved.

Thanks to Colonel Lough and the rest of the team on base, Athos is doing well, albeit with a small limp. Their story shows that the human-canine bond can shine in the darkest and most dangerous places!

Watch Colonel Lough talk about Athos in this AARP video.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Dog Treats

“Squashing” the benefits out of a pumpkin!

 

Digestive Health

  • Excellent source of fiber.
  • Helps with constipation.
  • Helps with diarrhea.

Urinary Health

  • Fatty acids and antioxidant source.
  • Contains vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and iron to prevent cancer.
  • Oils around the seed help keep the urinary tract clean.

Weight loss

  • Fiber keeps them full for longer periods of time.
  • Replace food with some pumpkin.
  • Adds additional flavor, naturally.

 

Let’s get cooking!

 

Pumpkin peanut butter treats

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup of pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbsp. all-natural peanut butter

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix all ingredients on Low, until dough comes together.
  • ½″between treats is enough.
  • Bake 30 minutes.
  • Makes 75+ 1″treats.

 

Pumpkin-cinnamon treats

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 100% canned pure pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp. of cinnamon
  • 1 egg

Instructions:

  • Combine pumpkin, cinnamon and egg in the bowl.
  • Add flour ½ cup at a time into the bowl until stiff dough forms.
  • Roll dough to about ½ inch thick.
  • Line dog treats ½ inch apart.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until treat is golden brown.
  • Store treats at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

No bake peanut butter pumpkin rolls

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup peanut better
  • 1 cup 100% pure pumpkin, canned
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 2½ cups oats

Instructions:

  • Add peanut butter, pumpkin, cinnamon and honey in a bowl and mix.
  • Roll batter into balls and place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks (3 months frozen)

 

Peanut butter, pumpkin apple pup-cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup 100% canned pure pumpkin
  • 3 tbsp. peanut butter
  • ½ apple finely chopped
  • ½ tsp baking powder

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
  • Grease a ramekin or a jumbo muffin tin.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on a rack for 5 minutes.
  • Frost with the mixture with either: a spoon of peanut butter, spoon of plain greek yogurt or a spoon of honey.

 

Pumpkin and molasses treats

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 4 tbsps. molasses
  • 4 tbsps. water
  • 2 tbsps. vegetable oil
  • 2 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Blend all of the wet ingredients (pumpkin, molasses, vegetable oil, water) together.
  • Add the dry ingredients (wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon) and stir until soft dough forms.
  • Grab the dough by teaspoonful’s and roll it into balls with your hands.
  • Drop the balls onto the cookie sheet or pizza pan and flatten them with a fork.
  • Bake until hard (approximately 25 minutes).

 

Facts about doggy treats

  • In 2014, 16% of US pet food spending went to treats.
  • In 2016, 26% people spent $5-$9 on pet treats every month.
  • Pumpkin is 4th in the most recommended ingredient in dog treats.
  • Treats and snacks should only make up 10% of a dog’s daily calories.
  • Low calorie veggie treats include: baby carrots, a green bean or some broccoli.

This is a cross post from Kuddly.co. 

Cool-weather Tick Alert

My dog and I both enjoy the arrival of autumn. I love the cascade of warm leaf colors, and she particularly loves rooting through the newly dropped leaves, as if there must be a treat hidden in there somewhere. We’re able to take much longer walks, no longer burdened by daytime heat spikes, scorching pavement, or the constant buzz of mosquitoes.

However, this time of year also brings another, less pleasant arrival: adult-stage blacklegged, or deer ticks. Wait a minute! Maybe you thought ticks were only a problem in the spring and summer? Well, they are active then. But blacklegged ticks are also a problem in the autumn. The tiny, poppy seed-sized nymphs that were nearly invisible all summer now have grown into the adult form and seem to be everywhere. These autumn days, when all other bloodsuckers are pretty much gone, adult blacklegged ticks can be found spending their days at the tops of tall grasses and low shrubs, legs outstretched, and waiting for a potential host to brush by.

The females are particularly dangerous to you as well as your pup. It’s currently estimated that around 50 percent of female blacklegged ticks are infected with the Lyme disease bacteria in the New England, mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwestern states, and the likelihood of transmission and infection increases the longer she’s attached and feeding. A lower proportion (about 15 percent) of these same ticks are infected in the southeastern and south-central states. And don’t be surprised if you see what looks like two types of tick on you or your pet. The all-black tick you may see is a male, usually just crawling around. He’s not interested in feeding (he’s only looking for the ladies). In addition to the Lyme disease bacteria, blacklegged ticks are also known carriers of the agent that causes canine anaplasmosis, another nasty pathogen that causes lethargy, lameness and fever in dogs.

While ticks pose a serious risk to you and your dog, they are no reason to hide indoors. A little TickSmart planning can help keep you TickSafe as you enjoy the beautiful fall weather.

Top 5 TickSmart™ Actions to Protect your Dog from Deer Ticks

•Avoid edges where ticks lie in wait.
Walk in the middle of trails, and stay on paved walkways away from the grassy vegetation where ticks are questing.

•Perform daily tick checks on your dog.
Spend time grooming your dog after every outing to remove any ticks that may have latched on. If any attached, be sure to use pointy tweezers for removal. Report any ticks found to TickEncounter’s TickSpotters program.

•Protect your dog with a quick tick-knockdown product.
There are many preventatives out there, and your dog should be protected every month of the year. Check out a comparison to determine which one is right for you.

•Make sure your dog’s Lyme vaccine is up-to-date.
The vaccine is a helpful component in the fight to protect your dog in case of a bite from a Lyme-infected deer tick (it should be noted that it doesn’t confer 100 percent immunity). Consult your vet for the proper formulation to protect your pet all year.

Create a tick-free yard.
Spraying the yard and then containing your dogs to the yard to prevent them from wandering into tick territory is a great way to protect them from tick bites and your home from loose and wandering ticks that could end up biting you.

 

NYC Behavior Program Works with Abused Pups
ASPCA's new state of the art center rehabilitates dogs to prepare them for adoption.

Last year the ASPCA closed its small enforcement unit, known to many from the television show, Animal Precinct, and shifted enforcement duty to the New York Police Department. With the police department's increased resources and wider reach, the number of dog cruelty cases surged, leading the ASPCA to open a new behavior center designed to handle the most horrific cases. These dogs come in so traumatized that they cannot be safely put up for adoption. In most cities, these pups would be automatically euthanized, but this new lifesaving program gives them the time and resources needed to heal.

When Alvin, a young Pit Bull mix, arrived at the center three months ago, he was so emaciated and weak that he couldn't walk. His owner was charged with his abuse. Alvin was quickly nursed back to physical health, but the emotional scars were much harder to heal. Alvin was afraid of people that he didn't recognize, as well as unfamiliar clothing and objects.

Animal behaviorist, Victoria Wells, worked patiently with him, wearing costumes to teach Alvin to trust strangers. He's made incredible progress since coming to the center.

Victoria says that dogs like Alvin come in broken and hopeless, but leave happy and healthy.

The ASPCA's state of the art facility was specially designed with these pups in mind. The center features rooms that can be cleaned without handlers having to enter a dog's individual space. Soundproofing and light dimmers are used, along with calming scents and music, to create a tranquil atmosphere. Specialists carefully monitor each dog's condition and progress each day. This information is used to customize the behavior modification programs, but also to provide evidence in the prosecution of abusive owners.

As you can imagine, dogs who finally graduate from the center's program must be matched with a family willing to care for a pet with severe challenges. Those who don't improve enough and are considered dangerous to humans or other dogs, are euthanized.

The center's comprehensive approach has attracted interest from other humane organizations around the country. It would be great to see elements of this facility implemented elsewhere. The program is not cheap by any means, but ASPCA president, Matthew Bershadker explains why it's so important.

“We owe these animals because we, as a society, as a species, have so horribly betrayed them and failed them. It’s our responsibility to make sure they live the life they were born to live.”

New York is lucky to have such a comprehensive and progressive program!

Case to Protect ADA Rights
A little girl and her service dog vs a school board

The US Justice Department filed suit yesterday against a public school district in upstate New York for refusing to permit a student with disabilities to attend school with her service dog unless the family pays for a dog handler to accompany the pair.

The lawsuit alleges that the Gates-Chili Central School District in Monroe County, NY, violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which states that a public entity must permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability, except under specific exceptions.

The child at the center of this debate, Devyn Pereira, 8, was born with Angelman Syndrome, a rare disorder that results in developmental delays, seizures and autism. Her mother, Heather Pereira, a single mother of two, spent more than a year raising the $16,000 for Hannah, a 109-pound white Bouvier trained to perform numerous tasks for Devyn, including alerting school staff to oncoming seizures, preventing Devyn from wandering or running away, and providing support so she can walk independently. 

Pereira, has spent three years trying to convince school officials to allow her daughter’s one-on-one school aide to provide periodic assistance in handling Hannah—primarily, tethering the service dog and issuing limited verbal commands. The dog is trained to last the school day without food, water or bathroom walks.

The lawsuit requests the school district permit Devyn to act as the handler of her service dog, with assistance from school staff. It also seeks compensatory damages of about $25,000 for Pereira for the ongoing cost of the dog handler.  

Announcing the suit this week, Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said: “Honoring an individual’s choice to be accompanied by her service animal in all aspects of community life, including at school, promotes the ADA’s overarching goals of ensuring equal opportunity for, and full participation by, persons with disabilities.” In hearing the news of the department’s decision, Pereira responded, “knowing the United States of America is not only sympathizing with our situation, but willing to take this all way to the top to fix it is an amazing feeling.” And she added, “I have so many dreams for my little girl and with the DOJ’s help, they are all within our reach. It is so exciting to think we are blazing a trail for all those that follow with service dogs.”

For more information about this lawsuit, or the ADA, call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800.514.0301 or800.514.0383 (TDD) or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov.  Complaints of disability discrimination may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint/.

 

 

 

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