Home
blog
News: Guest Posts
Can Dogs Experience Guilt, Pride, and Shame: Why Not?
We need more research to really know so right now we should keep the door open
(This post is a response to Which Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience? by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C.)

 

Dogs are amazing nonhuman animal beings (animals) and anyone who's known a dog knows this. Just today Dr. Stanley Coren published a very interesting essay called "Which Emotions Do Dogs Actually Experience?" and concluded, among other things:

"However, we know that the assortment of emotions available to the dog will not exceed that which is available to a human who is two to two-and-a-half years old. This means that a dog will have all of the basic emotions: joy, fear, anger, disgust and even love. However a dog will not have those more complex emotions like guilt, pride and shame." (After an email exchange with Dr. Coren about my response to his essay, he modified his conclusion to read, "However based on current research it seems likely that your dog will not have those more complex emotions like guilt, pride and shame.")

While this conclusion is extremely interesting, it remains a hypothesis in that the necessary research has not really been done. So, until the detailed research is conducted we don't really know "that the assortment of emotions available to the dog will not exceed that which is available to a human who is two to two-and-a-half years old."

We also don't know if dogs experience guilt, pride, and shame. However, because it's been claimed that other mammals with whom dogs share the same neural bases for emotions do experience guilt, pride, and shame and other complex emotions (see also and and), there's no reason why dogs cannot. And, there's solid biological/evolutionary reasons to assume dogs can and do. Recall Charles Darwin's ideas about evolutionary continuity in which the differences among species are seen to be variations in degree rather than kind - "If we have or experience something, 'they' (other animals) do too."

Do dogs feel guilt?

One more point needs to be made concerning doggy guilt. Consider the research conducted by Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog and Psychology Today writer. As I noted in a previous essay called "The Genius of Dogs and The Hidden Life of Wolves", Dr. Horowitz's research is often misinterpreted. For example, in their book titled The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think, Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods consider Dr. Horowitz's research on doggy guilt (pp. 183ff). They write that Horowitz "conducted an experiment to see whether dogs can feel guilty" but they misinterpreted just what Dr. Horowitz was actually trying to do. Her research did indeed show that people were not all that good at reading guilt in their dog, however her data do not show that dogs cannot feel guilt. I frequently hear people say that Dr. Horowitz's project showed dogs cannot feel guilt and this is not so (please see Dr. Horowitz's comment about this error).

Let's keep the door open about the emotional lives of dogs and other animals and also extend a hearty thanks to Dr. Coren for once again writing a very interesting and stimulating essay. 

Note: One can also question the value of comparing young humans with other animals. I don't find these comparisons to be especially compelling and other researchers have agreed that they are fraught with difficulties as are many cross-species comparisons concerning the cognitive and emotional capacities of individuals of different species. In a previous essay I wrote, "Animals do what they need to do to be card-carrying members of their species and we need to remember that numerous nonhuman animals outperform us in many different ways." Of course we are exceptional in various arenas as are other animals. Perhaps we should replace the notion of human exceptionalism with species or individual exceptionalism, a move that will force us to appreciate other animals for who they are, not who or what we want them to be.

News: Editors
Oversized Dogs and The Chinese Who Love Them

There is a really interesting article posted on The Atlantic  site today about the popularity of large dogs in China. As the author Damien Ma notes, “Most Americans will likely have a preconceived notion of the Chinese relationship with dogs. When a developing country can barely take care of all its own people, animal rights tend to sit very low on the totem pole. But the reality is much more complicated, especially with a burgeoning dog culture associated with the rise of young urban elites with disposable income. “

Ma then interviews an American filmmaker who is making a film Oversized Dogs: Chinese Dog Laws and the People Who Break Them. The director, who remains nameless for now, has been interviewing Chinese dog lovers who, similar to many dog lovers in other countries, find laws pertaining their pets onerous at worst, and turning many into scofflaws . But this isn’t a simple examination of a rising middle class pleasure in having dogs and their attachment to pets, it really does say more about how societal attitudes in China are evolving. As the director remarks: “From this, I realized that Chinese individuals casually break laws everyday, and this constitutes a very subtle and interesting side of dissent.” Read the whole interview and find out more about this Chinese “secret dog society” and what it might portend for the future of dogs in the world’s most populous country.

 

 

26_5840
Consumer Alert Bravo! Raw Food Chicken Blend
Minnesota Department of Agriculture issues alert

Minnesota Department of Agriculture issues “consumer advisory” for two brands of raw pet food

Samples tested positive for Salmonella bacteria

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is alerting consumers to avoid feeding or handling two separate brands of poultry-based raw pet food after the MDA laboratory found Salmonella bacteria in routine sample tests. The brand varieties include:

Bravo! Raw Food Diet 2 lb. Chicken Blend for Dogs and Cats manufactured by Bravo!, LLC, of Manchester, Connecticut. This is a frozen pet food product with the production code of 06/14/12, which is located on the white tag on the end of the package. This advisory is for the 2 lb. size of Bravo! Chicken Blend with the “best used by date” of 6/12/14 only. No other products, sizes, or production dates are involved. For further information, contact the company at 1-866-922-9222.

Turducken Canine Diet 8oz. Patties, manufactured by Steve’s Real Food, Inc., of Murray, Utah. This is a frozen pet food product with the “Use By” date code of 10/27/13 B209, which is located on the lower front panel of package. For further information, contact the company at 801-540-8481 or gary@stevesrealfood.com.

There are no reports of human or animal illnesses associated with consumption of these products. Consumers are asked to discard any of these products they may have.

Salmonella can affect animals eating the product, and there is a risk to humans from handling contaminated products. People handling contaminated raw pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product.

Pets with Salmonella infections may exhibit decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed this product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

Human symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5-7 days, but approximately 20 percent of cases require hospitalization. In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Anyone who has become ill after handling this product should see their health care provider.

News: Guest Posts
Old Spice's Mr. Wolfdog
Charming huckster or disturbing stereotype?

In an effort to sell a new line of products—the “Wild Collection”—Old Spice has created a character they’re calling Mr. Wolfdog.

Mr. Wolfdog, a wolf, is supposed to know a lot about the wild as well as marketing. He wears a clunky metal collar that translates his vocalizations into English. He sits at a desk, covered with Old Spice products and other decorations.

Mr. Wolfdog has the head of a real canine (hard to tell if it’s a dog, a wolf, or a hybrid) and a puppet body, so that he appears to be sitting at his desk, arms moving, like a human.

The style is cheesy, a riff on Mad Men’s bygone era of marketing that includes touches like a 10-key calculator and an ancient intercom system on the desk, as well as Mr. Wolfdog’s complete disdain for his assistants.

In fact, Mr. Wolfdog eats his assistants.

Yes, wolves are the epitome of wild. I get that. The target male audience for Old Spice products—the original cologne debuted in 1937—probably doesn’t include many wolf-huggers. But that doesn’t justify a high profile company that has hit some home runs with prior ad campaigns perpetuating a myth that contributed to the eradication of wolves across the West and continues to confound their successful reintroduction today.

Adding to my concern is another ad in the new campaign. It’s called “Irresistible.” An elegant man descends the stairs into an opulent party room with…a wolf growing out of each shoulder. I guess he’s a man-wolf hybrid. The man never speaks. The wolves, however, snarl and threaten a pretty woman who says she’s afraid, then intrigued, then drives off with the man and the wolves. “I never had a chance,” she says. I guess because they man-wolf smells so good, with his “wild” scent by Old Spice.

[“Irresistible” ad video on YouTube]

I asked some friends with dogs for their reaction to the Mr. Wolfdog ad.

From Tina: “Ooookay. Wow. At first I thought it was just really, really stupid. Then it got to the part where the wolf just can't resist the urge to eat his staff members. When so much has been done to get people to understand that wild animals (especially the highly feared ones like wolves, bears, sharks, snakes) are NOT living for the day that they can consume a human being, what Old Spice is doing is very wrong.” 

From Shelle:  “I thought it was stupid, revolting and couldn't figure out what the hell they are trying to say. I hated it. The poor dog looked hot and uncomfortable. The copy was nonsensical. Did I say I hated it? Where's the sexy black dude. Loved him.”

Shelle is referring, of course, to Isaiah Mustafa, who gained sudden fame in February 2010 as the bare-chested actor in the popular “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” advertising campaign for Old Spice. Women who buy Old Spice products for their men were the target audience, and the ads worked.

My informal poll shows males responding slightly more favorably to the Mr. Wolfdog ad than females, although none of them liked it.

What do you think? Love it or hate it?

 

 

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Puppies for Breast Cancer Awareness
Cosmo uses cute dogs to remind women about monthly health checks

Everyday my Facebook News Feed is filled with viral photos of adorable baby animals. The U.K. edition of Cosmopolitan magazine and CoppaFeel! are capitalizing on this trend to promote a good cause.

This month they launched a new breast cancer awareness campaign called Check Your Puppies!, which features photos of cute dogs behind lacy bras. Every month Cosmopolitan will post a new picture on Facebook and Twitter to remind women to do their monthly breast check. The campaign is encouraging people to help spread the message by sharing the cute photos with their friends.

According to CoppaFeel!, over a third of women never check their breasts and a disproportionate amount of these women are between the ages of 18 and 35, Cosmopolitan’s main fan base. With a one in eight chance of getting breast cancer, making self-checks a ritual is a must since early detection saves lives. The Check Your Puppies! campaign is aimed at reaching the young demographic.

Not everyone is happy with the new initiative, saying that referring to breasts as puppies is yet another way to objectify the female body by using silly language. I can see how some people might be offended by this campaign or find that it trivializes the disease, but if it helps even one person detect cancer in time for successful treatment, it’s definitely worth it.

Breast cancer has touched too many of my friends and family members. I think we have to be innovative in how we reach women and get the word out on prevention. Plus who can complain about getting to see a new pair of cute puppies every month?

26_5840
Recall: Jones Naturals Chews Woofers Dog Treats
Possible Salmonella

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 6, 2013 Jones Natural Chews Co (877) 481-2663 or (815) 874-9500

JONES NATURAL CHEWS CO RECALLS WOOFERS DOG TREATS BECAUSE OF POSSIBLE SALMONELLA HEALTH RISK Jones Natural Chews Co of Rockford, IL is recalling 245 boxes of Woofers (beef patties) because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Salmonella can affect animals and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products. People handling dry pet food and/or treats can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the chews or any surfaces exposed to these products.

Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments, including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation, and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by Colorado Department of Agriculture Feed Program which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria.

The Jones Natural Chews Woofers were distributed in AZ, CA, CO, PA, VA, and WI. They were shipped to distributors and retailers between November 1, 2012 and November 12, 2012 where they were available for purchase.

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) bulk 50 count box, Item UPC 741956008169, Lot 2962GPS-Best By 10/22/15 and Lot 2892PAL-Best By 10/15/15

***Woofers in bulk 50 count box may be sold individually***

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) 1 pack shrink-wrap, 50 count box, Item UPC 741956008657, Lot 3102, Best By 11/05/15.

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) 1 pack shrink-wrap, 50 count box, Item UPC 741956008183, Lot 2892BF-Best By 10/15/15, Lot 2962PWV-Best By 10/22/15, Lot 2962ASC-Best By 10/22/15, and Lot 3032ASL-Best By 10/29/15.

Jones Natural Chews Co Woofers (beef patties) 2pack shrink-wrap, 25ct box, item UPC 741956008190, Lot 2962ASC-Best By 10/22/15 and Lot 3032ASL-Best By 10/29/15.

No illnesses have been reported to date. Consumers who have purchased any of these woofers are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-877-481-2663, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Central Standard Time.

Ed. Note: This notice came to our attention from Susan Thixton's excellent blog The Truth About Pet Food and not from the FDA.

News: Guest Posts
ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center Opens
Overcoming fear, Learning to trust again

Many dogs, rescued from the trauma and abuse of puppy mills or hoarders, need lots of extra TLC before they're ready for their forever homes.

Lacking social skills, having lived with fear, pain, and hunger, some remain overwhelmingly fearful even after being removed from their deplorable conditions and given physical, medical and emotional support. Their psychic wounds can cause them to cower, retreat from a loving touch, pee submissively, even growl or bite to keep humans and other animals away.

Such behaviors, while understandable, make them a challenge for shelters already overwhelmed with dogs needing homes. Fearful dogs often become part of a revolving door problem, being returned to shelters by adopting families ill-equipped to deal with the behaviors. Or worse, they may be euthanized because they can't be placed.

ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has created a flagship program that will attempt to fill the gap between rescue and placement for the most severely traumatized dogs, the fearful ones. The ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, N.J. opens this week.

"For some animals, the reality is that after a lifetime of neglect and abuse, the rescue is just the beginning of their journey to recovery," said Dr. Pamela Reid, vice president of the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team. "The ASPCA recognized the need for a rehabilitation center that will provide rescued dogs customized behavior treatment and more time to recover, increasing the likelihood that they will be adopted. We partnered with St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center and identified the unique opportunity to utilize their space and collaborate with their behavior and care experts for the rehabilitation of victims of cruelty and neglect."

To start, dogs rescued from animal cruelty investigations will be eligible. To help reduce these dogs' fears and anxieties, the rehabilitation team will gently introduce them to unfamiliar sounds, objects, living spaces and real-life situations that a normally socialized dog handles with aplomb, but can induce trauma and extreme stress in this special population of dogs.

The ASPCA has funded this project for two years. The work done at the Center will become part of a research project, studying and evaluating methods for rehabilitating undersocialized, fearful dogs. The findings will be shared with animal welfare organizations and other researchers nationwide with the goal of helping shelters and rescue organizations rehabilitate abused and fearful dogs coming into their own facilities.
 

News: Guest Posts
One Lucky Puppy

He didn't run like a puppy; he flopped like a seal. His back hunched when he moved as if he was stalking stray sheep. Lucas was born with his front legs curved inward, hobbling his every step. In February, he arrived at Glen Highland Farm's Sweet Border Collie Rescue in Morris, New York, run by Lillie Goodrich and John Andersen. His new caretakers were smitten with him. But what good was their 175 - acre wooded, stream-filled sanctuary to a badly handicapped pup?

Worse, Lucas didn't seem to know he had any limitations. He tried to run and play as hard as any three month old pup; even though all of the bones in his elbows were displaced and separated, leaving him with no range of motion. His rescuers struggled to find solutions when veterinarians offered little hope. A canine cart? The “wheelchair” option led them to consider euthanasia. With his energy and powerful herding drive, Lucas might as well be imprisoned.
Then they met Dr. Kei Hayashi, an orthopedic veterinary surgeon at nearby Cornell University, who told them about a new surgical technique that might offer the best outcome.

The traditional way of reconstructing limbs is to cut bone and utilize biomechanical devices, such as pins and screws, to hold the bone in place as it heals. In Lucas's case, a traditional approach could help, Dr. Hayashi says, but his deformity was so severe that “there is no ideal treatment.”

The chosen procedure would focus on stretching and adjusting the position of the muscles in order to reposition the bones. The method, which is inspired by a few veterinarians, including one from Cornell, doesn't replace other techniques, Dr. Hayashi says. “It's not very different from any other surgical procedures in principle,” he says. “It is a modification” of existing techniques used in other types of deformity. “Each case is different. Each deformity is different.”

Lucas's defect is “very rare,” the surgeon says. While the cause is unknown, genetics probably play a role.

In early March, Lucas underwent the operation at Cornell, where he is now in the first phase of physical therapy. Everything went well, but it's still too soon to gauge its success. “Lucas is still recovering and is fighting this tough battle, and he will probably need to go through more procedures,” Dr. Hayashi says.

His rescuers anxiously monitor his progress. “The process will be a slow one since he has never stood upright on his front legs and has no muscle development” for such movement, Lillie Goodrich says. “His attitude is terrific and he is truly loved by all the team in the hospital. This first two weeks is a vulnerable time when the therapy is critical. Then he returns to the farm for continued therapy up until age one.” The costs are extreme and caretaking is only half the job. His rescuers must also raise the funds for his recovery.

However, the future is looking a lot brighter for the once-unlucky puppy, who still has plenty of time to grow into his limbs. “His prognosis for a normal joint is poor,” Dr. Hayashi says. “His prognosis for a happy life is good.”
 

News: Shirley Zindler
Dog rescued from culvert

A spider scurried across my face and the ropes around my ankles bit into my skin as I was lowered head-first down the steep, dark culvert.  It wasn’t much bigger around than I was and it was set deeply into a steep hillside. It was intended to divert water around a remote home and I couldn’t even see the dog yet as the pipe curved slightly about 20 feet down. I felt a little claustrophobic at not being able to move much in the tight space but I could hear him whimper and that motivated me to keep sliding downward on my belly. I had never even met the men who held the ropes that kept me from tumbling straight to the bottom but I had to trust that they would keep me safe.

Finally a dog appeared in my flashlight beam. He looked like maybe a Cattledog mix and he growled ominously as I slid closer. He must have been terrified and the sound echoed in the narrow space as he began to back away from me. The pipe was so narrow that I struggled to reach my hand into my pocket and remove some liver treats. I tossed one in his direction and he gobbled it and looked for more. It was critical that he not retreat much farther as I was nearing the end of 60 feet of rope and the pipe went on indefinitely. I tossed a few more treats and slowly slid the catch pole out in front of me.  With some careful maneuvering I was able to get it over his head and cinch it to a safe level. 

The caller had described hearing a dog barking and whining in the area for a week or so, but had been unable to locate him. He finally found the source of the noise in the long pipe on the hill and being unable to even see the dog, he had called animal control. When I arrived and saw what we were dealing with I was taken back. The pipe was too narrow to even crawl into, and too steep to back out. After brain-storming with the property owner and his friend for a few minutes we decided that the only way was to lower me in by my feet.

Thankfully he had a very long sturdy rope and some knowledge of knots, but it’s an odd feeling to have two men you have never met tie ropes to your ankles and lower you sixty feet down a hole.  Still, when I had the dog safely caught, and hollered for the men to pull us up, it was all worth it. The dog scrambled up the slippery pipe after me and then stood blinking in the bright sunlight. I felt a thrill of satisfaction as I watched him taking in the scenery. He looked to be in pretty good shape and had a bandana but no tags or microchip. We offered small amounts of water as he was terribly thirsty and then loaded him into the truck.

Thankfully, a faded and tattered flier on a nearby telephone pole proved to be a match. The shocked owner stated that the dog had been missing for three weeks and they had all but given up. The dog certainly didn’t look like he had been down there for weeks but a visit to the vet confirmed that the formerly overweight dog had lost 15 pounds since his prior visit. The owner explained that they had been trying to get 15 pounds off of the dog for some time. I suppose a trickle of condensation on our foggy nights may have kept him hydrated. I felt a wonderful euphoria for days after returning the dog to his ecstatic owner. A call like this is so rewarding and helps make up for some of the sad, difficult things we see in this job.

 

News: Guest Posts
Dog Food & GMOs
Should food that has been genetically modified be labeled?

Last November, California became the first state to put the issue on the ballot. Proposition 37, the “Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” called for such disclosure on the labels of some raw and processed foods sold in stores. It also prohibited them from being advertised as “natural.” And it didn’t give dog chow a free pass.

Although the measure targeted human consumers, the California Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law applies to both human and animal foods. So any pet food with a detectable level of genetically engineered content would also have to note on its label, “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering” or “May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.”

That would mean a lot of new label text in the dog food aisle. Over 90 percent of the nation’s soybeans and 85 percent of its corn is genetically modified, according to 2010 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These crops, modified to resist pests or withstand high doses of weed killer, are common in processed foods such as cereals and dog food.

But even with strong consumer support, the label law failed to pass. The organic industry and other advocates were outspent by biotech companies led by Monsanto—the world’s largest supplier of genetically modified seeds—and the food industry, including Big Dog Food. Nestle, owner of Purina PetCare Company and Mars, the maker of Nutro and Pedigree dog food, donated funds to help defeat it.

The Pet Food Institute and Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council argued that the label requirements would increase costs for farmers, manufacturers and consumers alike. Heated editorials appeared on Petfoodindustry.com.

“Putting scary sounding labels on pet food packaging will likely mislead consumers and impact their purchasing choices,” states a “No on 37” Campaign flyer.

In one ad by the campaign, a befuddled-looking man held up a slab of meat and a pet food canister. The line read, “So dog food would need a label but my steak wouldn’t?” The ad aimed at exemptions in the law that might confuse consumers; in this case, that processed beef dog food would be labeled but beef from animals fed genetically engineered crops wouldn’t.

Label supporters say that, given the prevalence of genetically modified ingredients and the scale of the industrial supply chain, a label that covers many of these foods is a good start (for example, dog food with beef which may contain bioengineered ingredients, such as vegetable oils).

Some dog owners already consider mainstream pet food, with its uniform nubs of dry kibble or wet mush, mere canine junk food; fast, convenient, and nutritionally questionable. But are those genetically modified morsels unhealthy in other ways?

The science is inconclusive. A genetically engineered food is a plant or meat product that has had its DNA altered by the insertion of genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria. The traditional means—plant breeding—allows desired traits to be cultivated, or unwanted effects to be eliminated, over time. Gene-splicing also shortcuts the long process of adaptation and evolution that occurs between food and consumers,

The FDA has ruled that these foods are “substantially equivalent to conventionally produced foods,” and does not safety test them. Unless they contain a known allergen, there is only a voluntary consultation process with developers, who conduct their own testing. But scientists say that the potential for creating new allergens and toxicants in bioengineered foods is there. At the same time, corporate patent rights over seeds limit independent researchers’ ability to study them.

California’s failed initiative calls labels “a critical method for tracking the potential health effects of eating genetically engineered foods.” Dog owners may agree. How would anyone know if genetically altered foods are triggering disease in dogs? Shouldn’t vets know what the pets they attend to are eating?

One thing is clear: it isn’t over. Several states are now working on proposals for their own label laws.

Editor's note: Starting in 2018 Whole Foods will be labeling GMO foods. And even Wal-Mart has been looking at labeling as well.

 

 

 

Pages