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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Decker’s Dogs
Denver Bronco helps military vets get service dogs

Eric Decker is a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, but making it to this year’s Super Bowl is only one of his recent accomplishments. More important in the eyes of many is the start of his foundation Decker’s Dogs.

Decker’s Dogs is a part of Operation Freedom, which is the branch of Freedom Service Dogs of America that focuses on helping members of the military transition from active duty and combat to civilian life. They are paired with trained service dogs that allow them to function with less fear and fewer restrictions so that they can be more independent and happier.  Many vets have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), suffer from panic attacks and flashbacks, have TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries) or are suicidal, and service dogs can make life better for people with such issues as well as those facing other challenges.

All of the dogs in Operation Freedom, including those in Decker’s Dogs, are rescued from shelters and trained to be service dogs. Dogs are provided to clients free of charge, but it takes roughly $25,000 and many months to train a single service dog. That’s where Eric Decker and his wife Jessica come in. Since starting Decker’s Dogs, they have raised many thousands of dollars, and placed their first service dog. They plan to place two more by this summer.

Maybe you are rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks in the upcoming Super Bowl. Perhaps you didn’t know who was playing and certainly don’t care who wins. Either way, it’s still easy to cheer for Decker’s Dogs and the veterans and dogs whose lives they change.

News: Editors
A Puppy on her mind

Another great ad is launching at the Super Bowl, this one is from General Mills and reprises its multiracial family ad for Cheerios that stirred up a lot of intense and nasty hoopla online (as well as thumbs up opinions too) when it aired in May. Good for Cheerios that they are going with this family again, and it will mark a first appearance on Super Bowl Sunday for the company. And, no, there isn’t a dog in it, but there’s certainly a mentioned of a promised one. Little Gracie is a doll in how she raises the cheerios “poker” hand with her dad for a  “puppy” as her ante, but almost better is the expression on the mom’s face! What’s not to love about this?


Watch it!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Pit/Great Dane mix with an Unusual Start

A late night call on standby had me driving my animal control truck across town in the dark to the scene of a vehicle accident. I hadn’t been given many details and hoped it wasn’t a fatality. When I arrived, I found a truck wrapped around a telephone pole and several police cars and a tow truck at the scene. An officer led me to his patrol car where he pointed to the back seat.

A big black puppy stared back at me, his glossy coat highlighted by the flashing blue and amber lights of the emergency vehicles. I opened the door and called to him softly “hey buddy, what are you doing here?” He wagged and wiggled closer and I scooped him up. He looked young but his feet were massive and he was all heavy bone and knobby knees. I studied him in the headlights of the patrol car for a moment. Black Lab? No, the coat was too short and sleek and he was bigger than a Lab. He looked a bit like a Pit Bull but he was too big and his ears were too droopy for that. He may have even had some Great Dane or Mastiff in there, but either way, he was gorgeous.

I was told that the accident occurred after some gang members were involved in a high speed police chase. The chase ended when they wrecked their truck and fled the scene. When officers arrived, they found drugs, guns and one black, knobby-kneed puppy in the wreckage.  I was amazed that he wasn’t injured and he didn’t even seem upset by his predicament.

The suspects were later apprehended on serious charges and the puppy was never claimed. A local wildlife rescue worker, Danielle, fell in love with him and adopted him. She named him Morrison and he has grown to be huge, muscular bundle of fun and love that delights everyone who meets him. He goes to work with Danielle every day and lives the life every dog deserves.

Did your dog have an interesting or unusual start? Share it with us.

News: Guest Posts
Rufo's Story

This video is the story of Rufo, a pit bull mix who, though loving and sweet, could not get adopted. He was deposited at a muncipal shelter at age one. For the next six years he lived in a cage twenty two hours a day.

Now adopted and one of our Smiling Dogs in our new issue. Rufo has many reasons to be smiling now.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Promoting Annual Checkups for Pets
Vet visits are down and health problems are up

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the number of canine vet visits dropped 21 percent since 2001 (and a whopping 30 percent for cats), while the number of emergency visits increased. Meanwhile, the Banfield Pet Hospital network has seen an increase in pet obesity, diabetes, arthritis, and thyroid and kidney disease. It seems that more and more people are waiting until their pets are very sick to bring them to the vet.

In response, a new campaign has been started by Partners for Healthy Pets, a collaboration between the AVMA, the American Animal Hospital Association, and more than 90 other veterinary organizations. to promote annual checkups for all pets. They want to let people know that preventative care saves lives and money by identifying problems before they require surgery or complicated treatment.

As an example, I was shocked to learn that only 55 percent of dogs are on heartworm medication, one of the easiest ways to prevent a fatal disease.

So why aren't people going to the vet? The 2008 economic downturn certainly didn't help, but the decline has been in motion for years. Some think that the research against annual vaccination or the proliferation of pet health information on the internet started the trend. Others believe that vets need to become better at marketing their skills, which is an interesting take.

Most of us at some point probably received a reminder postcard from our vet about vaccines, but an annual wellness exam nvolves much more than booster shots. Dr. Karen Felsted, a Dallas veterinary consultant, believes that vets need to describe the full value of what goes on in a check-up, such as how they observe gait and look for other behavioral clues that may indicate more serious problems. This is particularly important because animals like to hide illness as long as possible.

I always say that you are the best judge of your pet's health. After all, you're the one who sees your dog's behavior every day and knows if something isn't normal. But your pup's health should be a partnership between you and your veterinarian. If you're not bringing your pet to the veterinarian at least annually, find one that you respect and trust. Your dog will thank you for it!

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Puppy Dog Eyes Influence Humans
Infantile features have power

Those big puppy dog eyes may be powerful in addition to just being cute. According to a recent study, they may actually affect human choice about which dogs to adopt. The researchers who conducted the study “Paedomorphic Facial Expressions Give Dogs a Selective Advantage” found that dogs whose facial expressions made them look more puppyish were adopted more quickly from shelters than dogs who did not show such facial expressions. (Paedomorphism is the retention of infantile or juvenile traits into adulthood.)

One of the most prominent paedomorphic features is large eyes relative to the size of the face. This trait can be enhanced by raising the eyebrows which makes the overall height and size of the eyes seem bigger. It was this action of eyebrow raising that was studied in the experiment.

A total of 27 dogs were a part of the study. To minimize variation in facial features, all of the dogs were of similar types: Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Mastiffs and mixed bull breeds. Dogs were filmed for 2 minutes and researchers recorded the number of eyebrow raises and tail wags that each dog performed as well as noting how much time the dog spent at the front of the kennel. Frequency of eyebrow raises was associated with shorter times until adoption. Specifically, dogs who raised their eyebrows 5 times during filming were adopted in an average of 50 days, those that performed 10 eyebrow raises were adopted in an average of 35 days, and dogs who did it 15 times had an average waiting time until adoption of only 28 days.

Interestingly, they found that amount of tail wagging and time at the front of the kennel were not strongly associated with time until being adopted even though such traits are typically considered favorable behavioral signs of friendliness. It would be interesting to know if the eyebrow raising behavior correlates with temperament and suitability as a pet or if it is a behavior that serves more strictly to encourage caregiving behavior in humans.

These results may shed light on the domestication of dogs. It has been proposed that the juvenile traits of dogs arose as a byproduct of selection against aggression. This line of reasoning claims that people chose to associate with the least aggressive canines, and that the evolution of puppyish features and behavior developed as an accidental consequence of those choices. Experiments support the idea that selecting against aggression does lead to the evolution of juvenile traits. However, this latest study suggests that the puppylike features themselves may have influenced which canines became closely associated with humans and that such features may have evolved earlier in the process of domestication than previously thought.

Do your buddy’s puppy dog eyes exert a powerful influence over you?

News: Editors
Super Bowl Ad Preview: Puppy Love
A treat from Budweiser

This is a very adorable ad from Budweiser that will air this Sunday during the Super Bowl. Only "downer" is that the pup isn't from a shelter! But this well-crafted ad is sure to tug at your heart strings. Those horses are just so majestic too. It will be hard for the other ads to compete with this one.

 

Sue Chipperton and Deborah Dellosso were the trainers of the litter of eight Labrador puppies who appear in the ad. When training began, the puppies were just 9-weeks-old.

As they noted in People:

"The puppies reacted fabulously to the Clydesdales," says Chipperton. "I was amazed at how brave and outgoing they were around these huge horses. They wanted to engage with them and were very excited to be in their presence." (Who wouldn't be?)

And it was the animals' interactions that made the TV magic, says the dogs' trainer.

"It's special because the connection was natural, it wasn't forced … a sweet moment from a gentle horse and an adventurous puppy." says Chipperton.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Scam Uses Cute Puppy Pictures
Beware of thieves using this tactic

In a new twist to an old trick designed to separate honest people from their money, a well-known scam in disguise is being targeted at dog lovers. If someone is interested in buying a dog online, they may be vulnerable to this con.

They are offered a dog, often of a rare and expensive breed, at a too-good-to-be-true price, but during the course of transporting the dog to them, additional fees crop up. They may be asked to send $1600 for insurance to ship the puppy or $1000 for vaccinations and a new pet carrier. Requests for food or for emergency veterinary care are sometimes made. Fees as much as $4600 have been requested to spring the puppy out of quarantine. By the time many victims realize that something isn’t right and that the puppy will NEVER be delivered, it’s too late, and any money they have already sent is gone forever.

This pet scam is a type of 4-1-9 scam, the most famous of which is the Nigerian Scam. In that scenario, the criminal contacts potential victims and claims to have a large fortune that needs to be transferred out of Nigeria. They say that in exchange for helping them with the transfer, they will be given a percentage of the millions of dollars. A variety of reasons are given for being unable to do so without help from an overseas partner. Usually, they have to do with legal technicalities related to their position in the government. Once the victim expresses interest, they are told of various fees and expenses required to make the transfer happen. People are often willing to pay a little now for the promise of a large fortune later, which is how they fall prey to the crime. Fees for multiple failed transfers and legal fees only serve to part people from their money.

Beware of all related scams and don’t let adorable puppy pictures cloud your good judgment. As investigators of such crimes often say, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

News: Editors
Dog and a Friendly Owl

With over 1million views, many of you have probably seen this video, but it was new to me when a friend showed it to me.

We have a dog very much like the one here, and it is great to see the dog's patience and acceptance of the owl's attention. I do think that our Lola would also sit so still and welcome this feathery friendship.

News: Guest Posts
Canine Urination 101: Handstands and Leg Lifts Are Just the Basics

As my Twitter bio says, I’m interested in your dog’s urine. I’m not kidding around here. For a recent Animal Behavior class, I buddied up with a doggie daycare and followed dogs on their afternoon walks. Yes. I was that person walking around NYC with a hand held camera, trailing dogs and video taping them as they peed.

This wasn’t a hypothesis testing experiment, I was simply trying to gauge what parts of urination were easily measured in a naturalistic context. I checked out things like urination duration, urine placement, leg position, leg height, tail position and post-pee scratching. If another dog was present, I got to see whether there was any over-marking (peeing on another dog’s pee) or adjacent marking (peeing nearby). I was just measuring stuff as you often do when starting to investigate why animals do what they do.

I’m not the only researcher interested in your dog’s urine. Patricia Yang and colleagues at The Georgia Institute of Technology have a similar interest in measuring things that might seem odd to measure. They’ve submitted the abstract The Hydrodynamics of Urination: to drip or jet to the Annual Fluid Dynamics Conference held by the American Physical Society in late November.

Using “high-speed videography” and “flow-rate measurement” they investigated independent urination styles, such as the dripping of small mammals and the “jetting” of large mammals. New Scientist interviewed Yang (and Discover has a piece out as well), and the coverage touches on urethra length, gravitational pull and the number of seconds it takes to empty bladders. I eagerly await how the published study links Newtonian physics to urine!

Truth be told, maybe I wanted to write this post so I could write “jetting” of large mammals, and show this video. Also, I want to go on vacation with these people*:

But as you’ve seen, urine does not begin and end with the jetting of large mammals. Dog urination is pretty awesome and a number of researchers are holding a figurative magnifying glass up to it (and you can too!). Some dogs let it all out at once — although, I’m pretty sure that’s not called “jetting”) — while others let a little out at a time. And then of course, there’s how they do it.

A recent study by Wirant and McGuire (2004) found that female Jack Russell Terriers assumed a number of urination positions, including the squat-raise (most common), squat, arch-raise, combination and handstand. They found that females“used the squat-raise and arch-raise postures more when off their home area then when on their home area.” If dog urination has a social function, it might make sense to present your urine in different ways depending on where you are and who you are encountering, don’t you think?

 

Here’s what you can do: When you’re out walking your dog, pay attention to their urine. Do they assume a different position if you take them to an area where they’ve never been or go infrequently? Or do they pull out the same tricks no matter where they are?

 

Leave your urine reports below, and share early and often. My business is urine, and it can be yours too.

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* What do you think? Better video title: 1) Wow, What a Pee, 2) Don’t Brag on Camera or 3) Did You Have a Good Pee, Mr. Rhino?

Photo: Flickr Nature’s Fire Hydrant via Mike Finkelstein Creative Commons

References
Wirant & McGuire. 2004. Urinary behavior of female domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): influence of reproductive status, location, and age. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 85, 335-348.

Pham et al. 2013. The Hydrodynamics of Urination: to drip or jet. Bulletin of the American Physical Society. 66th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics.
Volume 58, Number 18. November 24–26, 2013; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

 

 

This story was originally published by Scientific American. Reprinted

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