Home
3D Printed Prosthetics Allow Dog to Run
Collaboration opens a new world for a South Carolina pup.

Earlier this year I wrote about TurboRoo, an adorable Chihuahua who received a 3D printed dog cart to help him get around. Dog carts have been the norm for lucky disabled pups, but it makes it hard to really run and play with other dogs. Canine prosthetic legs are more expensive and can take a long time to get the right fit.

But that all could change starting with a special pup named Derby, the first animal to be successfully fitted with 3D printed prosthetics. A few months ago, Tara Anderson, an employee at South Carolina based 3D printing company 3DS, started fostering the Husky mix born with two deformed front legs. She initially fitted Derby with a dog cart, but after it limited his mobility she enlisted a few of her colleagues to help make Derby prosthetic legs with their 3D technology. They were all on board, but none of them knew anything about designing prosthetics.

So Tara reached out to Derrick Campana, founder of Animal Ortho Care in Virginia, one of the first companies to make orthotics and prosthetics specifically for animals. Derrick had been wanting to incorporate 3D printing into his business because not all of the materials and tools that work for making human prosthetics are 100 percent compatible with animals. For example, the technology used to scan a person's leg is not so accurate when scanning a furry leg.

So while Derrick still had to mold a custom fiberglass cast, 3D printing brought speed and flexibility to the project. "The beauty of 3D printing is that if the design needs to be adjusted, we don't have to wait for time-consuming and expensive traditional manufacturing processes, we can simply print out a new set," said 3DS vice president Buddy Byrum. The new technology allowed them to create complete prosthetics printed in a single, custom-fit build.

Derby did have to learn how to use the prosthetics, with the help of his veterinarian and physical therapist, but now the energetic pup runs two to three miles a day with his adoptive parents.

Derrick plans to continue collaborating with 3DS to further advance the field of animal prosthetics and hopes to one day be able to directly scan canine legs to make the process even more efficient.

It takes a lot of work to successfully fit a dog with prosthetics, but seeing Derby's happy face certainly makes it all worth it.

Don’t Visit Without Them
Must-have travel items for guests

If you’re traveling with your dog this holiday season to stay with friends or family, you probably have more stuff jammed into your car than if your dog were staying home. I hope you’ve still have some space left, though, because you’ll want to make sure you have those extra items that can help make the trip with your dog a success.

I’m not talking about the obvious stuff like food, food bowls, crate, leash, collar, and a brush for daily groomers. I assume those are already packed and ready to go. No, I’m talking about the things that make visits easier for social reasons—the ones that are useful because they help prevent or ease the tensions that so often arise when dogs are guests.

Let’s not kid ourselves—even friends and relatives who love our dogs may not love the extra mud, hair and slobber that they bring or those little behavior gaffes such as counter surfing, barking, crotch-sniffing, trash parties and jumping up. With a little planning ahead and thoughtfulness, you can minimize any feelings of regret they may have about inviting your dog to come with you. Here are some must-have items to bring.

Extra-nice hostess gift. Bring something really special for your hosts and write in the card how much you appreciate that your dog is welcome, too. Consider adding a second gift that is from your dog.

Lint rollers. The hair that you consider a standard accessory to your outfits may not match everyone else’s style. Sharing these clean-up tools helps everyone get ready for family photos and also lets them know you realize that your dog sheds and that you care about how this affects others.

Washcloths and towels. At my house, we have a huge bin of old towels and washcloths that we use for anything slightly gross. At some houses, all linens are fancy and new, which means their owners may not appreciate them being used to wipe muddy paws and bellies, to put on furniture or rugs under a wet dog or to clean up everything from dog vomit to water bowl spills.

The phone number and location of a nearby hotel that accepts pets. It’s wise to be prepared in case it becomes prudent for you and your dog to relocate. Hopefully, tensions will not escalate to the point where you feel compelled to leave, but being prepared for that (just in case!) is always wise.

Thank-you gift. When you leave, let your hosts know that you appreciate them with something like flowers or a bottle of wine. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it shows that you are grateful and includes a gracious note praising your hosts’ hospitality to you and your dog.

I hope you and your dog have a wonderful visit and that you are both invited back again!

Banning Canine Tattoos and Piercings
NYS law protects pets against unnecessary aesthetic procedures.

Earlier this year, Brooklyn tattoo artist Mistah Metro ruffled feathers in the animal community when he posted a photo of his tattooed dog on Instagram. Mistah inked the pup while she was under anesthesia for a spleen removal. At the time it wasn't illegal, just ethically questionable. After all, the dog was subjected to an unnecessary and permanent procedure.

While Mista's pup couldn't be spared the skin decoration, other pets in New York will be protected against similar aesthetic procedures in the future. Earlier this week Governor Cuomo signed legislation outlawing the tattooing or piercing of pets in the state of New York, calling it "common-sense legislation." The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal in 2011, after she read about a Pennsylvania woman selling "Gothic kittens" with piercings on their necks, ears, and spines. Mistah's canine tattoo gave Linda's legislation the momentum it needed to finally become a law.

Linda has been a longtime advocate for animals in the state legislature, believing pets need protection from careless owners. She's drafted other legislation giving judges the power to issue orders of protection to pets, limiting the testing of cosmetics on animals, and giving cities the ability to shut down puppy mills.

The tattoo and piercing law will go into effect in four months. Violators will face up to $250 in fines and up to 15 days in jail. Ear tags on rabbits and tattoos for identification purposes will be excluded from the law, as well as piercings that provide a medical benefit and are performed under the supervision of a veterinarian.

It certainly sounds like a bizarre law, but apparently a much needed one. 

What’s Wrong with the "Wrong" Dog

One of the most shared recent articles in the New York Times was one about a “wrong dog” and how the op-ed blogger felt she was wronged by agreeing to adopt a young dog from a rescue group. I was going to write about this but then our good friend, and former Bark science editor, Mark Derr, wrote a great post for Psychology Today that brought up all the points, and then some, that I had wanted to make. He kindly allowed us to cross post his article:

The New York Times ran a opinion piece on Saturday, December 13, by Erica-Lynn Huberty on the trauma caused when a well-meaning young couple bring a sweet young rescue dog into their home who turns into a cat-killing maniac. The essay, “The Wrong Dog,” serves as a sobering reminder that not all found dogs fit as seamlessly into their new homes as Arthur, the Ecuadoran stray who joined a team of Swedish adventure racers and traveled several hundred arduous kilometers with them last month. The team captain then sought and won permission to take him home to Sweden, and their story went viral. 

Arthur’s story raised several questions in my mind: How frequently can dogs be said to choose their human companions, what criteria do they use, and what is their success rate? I have several friends who literally rescued dogs off the street, in one case the Brooklyn Bridge, and took them home to discover they had a friend for life.

Is it merely random chance that a dog and man or woman should meet and become instant friends?  I think that both are choosing—the human to save a fellow creature in distress; the dog to find a loyal companion. Any dog dumped in the road would want that but be suspicious, too, I should think.

People I know with multiple dogs often have dogs dumped near them by neighbors who assume they will take the dog in. They do and if it doesn’t fit into their existing “pack,” they will find the dog a home.  The private placements I know of have worked well—on occasion spectacularly. But dogs who go that route are the lucky exception among the abandoned millions.

The apparent ease with which human and dog share affection and respect casts light on why wolves and humans teamed up initially. Though the reasons remain mysterious, they clearly, I have long suspected, have to do with the ability of individuals from both species to form lasting bonds of friendship with someone other than their own kind and to do so voluntarily, as adults, as well as children and puppies.

Whatever mutations governing sociability occurred to make dogs, at least one must have involved fixing them as dominate in the dog genome—or so it appears.

But there are times human and dog don’t match up well, and unless something is done, the results can be tragic. Many of the failures in that relationship seem to arise from a lack of forethought on the part of the human, a fundamental failure to think through and find ways to meet the animal’s need for exercise, social contacts with people and dogs, consistent treatment and mental stimulation.

The central problem with Huberty’s essay lies in her argument that nothing short of ditching the dog when she first started acting oddly would have prevented the catastrophe that occurred. They would have done that had they known that some dogs are unfit for adoption, and no amount of training, discipline, or coddling will change that.

“We let ourselves believe that beneath our rescued puppy’s strange, erratic behavior was a good, loving pet,” Huberty writes. The truth was the opposite.

The back story is common enough. Having become smitten with a five-month old Lab mix, Huberty and her husband, decide to have her share their home with their three cats, a female dog, and two children.

From her arrival, the new dog, Nina, showed a defensive/possessive aggression that led Huberty to seek more information from the group who rescued her.

Huberty says that she and her husband followed the advice of Cesar Millan, “the Dog Whisperer” to create a “loving but disciplined environment.”  Nina responded by attacking a cat and biting Huberty when she intervened.

In response, Huberty called the woman who gave them Nina. She agreed  to pay for a trainer, who proved to be the anti-Millan. She advocated a rewards-based approach rather than “discipline.” The essay takes an odd turn here as Huberty calls the rewards-based method ‘coddling” while appearing to indicate that it was working up to a point.

Nina would go along being a normal, playful puppy. But at times, out of nowhere it seemed, she would snap at me or Alex and, once, at our son,” Huberty says, “She would suddenly cower and growl. It was like a switch flipped, yet we couldn’t figure out what had done it.”

Nor do they try to find out. Dogs do not usually change their behavior that rapidly and dramatically without reason. That could very well be an underlying pathology that a thorough examination by a veterinarian might reveal. Indeed, Huberty gives no indication that she ever took the dog to a veterinarian—the first stop a new dog or cat companion should make. 

If no physical reason for the behavior can be found, the next stop is to  consult a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. There are not many in the country but your veterinarian should help arrange a consultation.   

Huberty blames the dog, the woman who gave her the dog, the trainer—everyone but herself and her husband—and Nina herself for her failure to fit seamlessly into Huberty’s home. From this experience, she draws the conclusion that some dogs are just unsuitable for living with humans. That might be the case but there is no proof of it here.

Maybe we should seek ways to allow more dogs to choose their human companions.  I have a notion they would do a better job of it.  “And when they don’t fit in they may be saying ‘wrong family,’” said my fellow Psychology Today blogger Marc Bekoff after reading “The Wrong Dog.”  “Living with a dog is a two-way street and assigning unilateral blame gets us nowhere and once again leaves the dog out in the cold. This sort of ‘musical dogs’ is bad for the dog, as much research and common sense tell us.”

 Nina might pay with her life for human miscalculations and failure to seek professional help.              

 

 

 

 

 

Making the Holidays Sweeter for Dogs

The holidays can present a different picture for animal control officers and shelter workers. It’s hard going to work each day and seeing all the homeless faces. Some eager and hopeful, some scared and lonely. All in need of someone to show them how good it can be. Of course not everyone can adopt a pet and certainly in most cases pets shouldn’t be given as gifts. The exception is a parent who is committed to the life of a pet giving a pet to a child or a family who is picking out a pet together.  It was once thought that no animals should be adopted out around Christmas but the thinking later changed to encourage people to give needy pets a home for the holidays. I’m all for taking things on a case by case basis. An easy-going family adopting a confident, happy dog can be a blast at any time.

Even if you can’t adopt, there are lots of ways to make life sweeter for homeless pets during the holidays. As we look at our beloved pets lounging in pampered comfort, remember the dogs who have no one. Contact your local shelter or rescue and ask for a wish list. Donate blankets, food, toys, treats or money. Volunteering to walk and play with shelter dogs is a great way to walk off all the rich food most of us indulge in this time of year and makes all the difference for a lonely dog.

The holidays can be a stressful time for our own dogs as well. Some dogs thrive on all the activity this time of year but many don’t. We often see cases of dogs biting visitors around the holidays. Even nice dogs can bite and dogs are limited in the ways they can ask for space. I constantly see well meaning people ignoring numerous stress signals from dogs. If your pet isn’t thrilled to see visitors, settle them in a quiet room with some treats and toys instead of subjecting them to the chaos of people who may push them past their limits.

 We can all benefit from slowing down and focusing on the real meaning of the season. What are you doing to make life sweeter for your pets and others?

 

Oh No You Didn’t
Photos of dogs dressed for Christmas

Some dogs enjoy sporting costumes, but they are in the minority. I see many dogs who look absolutely adorable dressed up for various holidays, but only a small subset of those look happy. I recently saw a photo on a restaurant wall of a dog done up as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, complete with a red clown nose and large antlers. One way to describe his mood is “less than thrilled.” It’s far more accurate to say, as the person next to me DID say, “That is one pissed off dog.”

It’s become a game in my family to imagine captions for photos of dogs subjected to being adorned with excessive Christmas cheer. Whether they are wearing antlers, a Santa suit or a string of lights, it’s usually hard to imagine that the dogs are thinking, “Thanks, I do love to look festive!” Here are some of the sentiments that I think more likely match their opinions on the matter.

Really?

Oh, no you didn’t.

Do we have to do this EVERY year?

You take this off me this instant!

One more things gets put on me, and your fingers are history.

How come the cat never has to wear this stuff?

Someone’s gonna be sorry!

Why does this always happen to me?

This is so embarrassing.

Is this the way best friends are supposed to treat each other?

Now, I’m not saying the dogs look anything but great in their holiday attire, and I certainly understand how much the right canine outfit can add to the annual family photo. But if you look at your dog and see an expression that is anything but joyful, it makes sense to consider skipping the costume, or putting it on just long enough to take a photo.

A Star is Born
Singing along to “Let It Go”

This dog sleeps right through Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap” featured in “The Fault in Our Stars,” but watch how he reacts when Frozen’s “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel comes on. The way his ears respond first followed by a slight movement of the head, then a head raise and a look directly at the camera makes the sequence look choreographed. The dog acts very much like an actor in a musical at the start of a big number.

I find it especially amusing that the dog yawns and looks ready to sleep again when the music switches from “Let It Go” and returns to “Boom Clap.” This guy knows what he likes. I’m curious about why this dog prefers one song over the other. Personal preference could obviously account for his reaction, but prior experience may play a role, too.

The people who posted the video call “Let It Go” their dog’s favorite song. It certainly makes sense that familiarity plays a role in the dog’s enthusiasm at hearing it. Perhaps, like me, this dog lives with kids in the age range of 4-12, in which case he’s probably heard this song hundreds of times by now.

Whatever the reason, he really has his performance down! Somebody needs his own iPod or a karaoke machine!

Dream Dog Park Honors Firefighters
Winning city features a pet friendly space with a nod to the Granite Mountain Hot Shots.

On Wednesday, the renovated Willow Creek Dog Park in Prescott, Arizona reopened as more than just a place for canines. Not only does the space offer a wonderland for pets, but it was designed to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shot firefighters that died battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire last year.

A few months after the tragedy, Prescott resident Linda Nichols noticed an advertisement for Beneful's Dream Dog Park contest. The winner's park would receive a $500,000 makeover. She decided to send a photo of her pup, Callie, along with the idea to create a firefighter themed space as a memorial for the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. Touched by her vision, Beneful chose Prescott's Willow Creek Dog Park.

Celebrity contractor Jason Cameron (host of several shows on the DIY Network), managed the renovation, along with pet writer and consultant Arden Moore who oversaw the project from a canine point of view.

The revamp installed a half-acre of low maintenance turf, stainless steel dog friendly water fountains, and a ramada for shade. Beautifully themed, the park features a replica firetruck (with built in tunnels for the dogs to run through), a row of colorful truck tires, and fire hydrant and hose shaped water misters (for the notoriously hot Arizona weather). As a finishing touch, the brick and metal entrance was designed to commemorate the history of the Prescott Fire Department.

The new park was unveiled on Wednesday with appearances by everyone involved, a photo booth, a caricature artist, and lots of human and canine treats. But best of all, there were plenty of very happy pups in attendance.

If you're in the area, visit the new space at 3181 Willow Creek Rd., Prescott, Arizona.

 

Dogs Welcome at Heaven's Gate
with Pope's Blessing CORRECTED VERSION

On Dec. 16 The New York Times, where the following article was sourced from, published a clarification about the remarks attributable to Pope Francis:

An article on Friday about whether Pope Francis believes that animals go to heaven — a longstanding theological question in the church — misstated the pope’s recent remarks and the circumstances in which they were made.

He spoke in a general audience at the Vatican on Nov. 26, not in consoling a distraught boy whose dog had died. According to Vatican Radio, Francis said, in speaking of heaven, “The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.” He did not say: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” Those remarks are reported to have been made by Pope Paul VI to a distraught child.

An article on Nov. 27 in Corriere della Sera, the influential Italian daily, compared Francis’ comments to Paul’s, and concluded that Francis also believed that animals go to heaven. A number of subsequent news reports then mistakenly attributed both quotations to Francis; The Times should have verified the quotations with the Vatican.

What a refreshing, and can I say, enlightened pope that Catholics have with Pope Francis! In responding to a little child’s grief at his dog dying, Francis told a crowd at St. Peter’s Square that, indeed, “paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.” This message sent theological scholars and humane societies across the world into a frenzy, the former trying to figure out exactly what the pope meant, the latter rejoicing in the great news that dogs and all animals can go, and merit going to heaven, and in fact, have souls. Such marvelous news. In reading through the reports about this “divine” decision, it was learned that it wasn’t until 1854 when papal infallibility was actually inscribed in that faith by Pope Pius IX who also supported the doctrine that animals have no consciousness, hence have no place in heaven, and even worse he tried to stop the founding of an Italian chapter of the SPCA. But back in 1990, Pope John Paul II seemed to reverse Pius when he said that “animals do have souls and are “as near to God as men are.” This position wasn’t well advertised by the church. Unfortunately John Paul was followed by the stricter more conservative, Benedict who reverted back to Pius’s position.

But now we have a new pope and definitely a new age in the way that most view animals, with a pope who, “citing biblical passages that assert that animals not only go to heaven, but get along with one another when they get there." Francis was quoted by the Italian news media as saying: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.”

The editor of Catholic magazine, the Rev. James Martin, who is also Jesuit, like the pope, said that he believed that the pope was at least asserting that “God loves and Christ redeems all of creation,” and adds that “he’s reminding us that all creation is holy and that in his mind, paradise is open to all creatures, and frankly, I agree with him.”

While it is not such as surprise that Pope Francis, who took his papal name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, would take this humane, enlightened position, it is a remarkable gift he has given to all animal lovers this holiday season. Viva le Pope Francis!

 

 

Christmas Trees are Not Indoor Bathrooms
This may not be obvious to your dog

“Brought home my first Christmas tree about 25 seconds ago. The dog peed on it about 23 seconds ago. So. Joy to the world and season's greetings and all that.” My friend’s Facebook post describes a situation many of us have faced.

Though Christmas trees are decorations to us, their purpose is far from clear to most dogs. Anxiety has always been a part of my experience when I bring a dog to visit people around Christmas. I encourage anyone whose dog is going to be around these evergreen signs of the season to assume that dogs might view the tree differently than people and act accordingly, if you want your tree to be free of dog pee. (And who doesn’t want that?)

Management and prevention are useful tools when trying to prevent this behavior issue, so do what you can to keep your dog from going over to the tree when you’re not looking. Use gates or other equipment to block your dog’s access. If that’s not possible, supervise him when that room is available to him so he can’t sneak up on the tree while you’re baking, wrapping gifts or panicking over a recent credit card statement. This takes discipline and commitment on your part because this time of year is busy for most of us. Keeping your dog on a leash inside can keep him from wandering over to the tree, too.

No matter how well your dog is housetrained or how many years it’s been since he had an accident, assume nothing when a tree is indoors, especially if it is your dog’s first experience with one. A dog who pees on a Christmas tree is confused rather than acting out. Give your dog some help by letting him know that you still want him to eliminate outside. Take him out often on walks and in the yard, and reinforce him with great treats for eliminating in the right places. Know the signs that your dog has to go. Be alert to any indications that he may be about to eliminate such as sniffing or circling. Spend quiet time with him near the tree massaging him or letting him chew on a Kong or other chew treat so he considers the tree part of his living space. Dogs are less likely to eliminate in areas where they hang out or where they sleep.

If your dog knows “leave it,” practice it with many objects in the house that are off limits, including the tree. Reinforce him with treats, play or toys for correct responses to this cue. If he sniffs the tree or goes near it, reinforce him for being near it but not peeing on it. Teaching him to do something specific near the tree such as “sit” or “lie down” gives him a go-to behavior to do in that area other than lifting his leg. If he develops a strong reinforcement history with a behavior other than peeing on the tree, he will be less likely to pee on it.

Remember that if your dog does pee on the tree, he probably didn’t realize it was a faux pas. The tree may even have been peed on in the great outdoors before you brought it home, and that can make it extra confusing for the canine set. Clean it with an enzymatic cleaner to take away the odor so that it won’t smell like a bathroom to him.

Hopefully, your dog will not decorate your tree this year (or your heirloom tree skirt, your favorite ornaments or any of the presents.) That will make it easier to mean it when you say, “Joy to the world and season's greetings and all that.”

Publicizing a Lost Dog
Creative ways to help a missing pet get home.























It's easy to lose hope when a beloved pet goes missing, but animals do find their way home, months, even years after being lost. However, when flyers start to fade and searches come up empty, it can be hard to keep lost pets in the public eye and to motivate people to keep looking.

Local (to me in New York) agility and therapy dog, Cooper, has been missing since September 26th when he wandered away from his family on a New Jersey beach in Long Beach Island. It was unusual because the 16 year old Australian Shepherd had been coming to that beach every year for his whole life and had always stayed close. His family is especially concerned because Cooper has been nearly deaf the last three years due to his old age. Long Beach Island is also an area that most people vacate after the summer is over, although it's suspected that Cooper may not be on the island anymore.

Cooper's family and friends have spent the last two months checking off all of the usual lost dog techniques, posting flyers, calling local shelters, and writing to local media. But they've also employed a number of unique tactics to get the word out that I wanted to share.

It's easy for people to zone out flyers, especially when they've been hanging for weeks. Cooper's team changed their flyers as the holidays drew closer, using a photo of Cooper in a Santa hat to attract attention and earn major cuteness points. Keeping posters fresh helps remind people that a pet is still lost.

Cooper's team also came up with creative ways to spread the word. One person made a homemade, triangular shaped sign to attach to the top of their car's roof rack, while others handed out candy canes with information cards. Two volunteers even marched in a Christmas parade last weekend with a "Have You Seen This Dog?" banner.

Cooper's family has also been using technology to help mobilize volunteers, creating a Google document to track people contacting area veterinarians and using Facebook to centralize updates and coordinate search parties.

Hopefully Cooper will find his way home in time to celebrate his 17th birthday later this month. In the meantime, if you have any information or sightings to report, please call 201-777-0189.

Do you have any creative lost pet techniques that have worked well?

Outsmarted by a Puppy
She’s not a Houdini dog after all

Though definitely impressed by the intelligence of dogs, I generally still consider my cognitive skills to be beyond theirs. At the very least, I like to think that I am a match for the power of the canine brain, but lately there has been evidence to the contrary.

We were dog sitting a 5-month old puppy named Peanut. Her house training was far enough along that she never had an accident during the week at our house. Though she likes to chew a bit as do most puppies that age, she generally kept her teeth where they belonged—on puppy toys and chews. Still, there was no way that she and the house were guaranteed to be safe from each other without constant supervision, so we needed to confine her to a part of the house while we were gone.

We chose our back room, which has a wood floor and old furniture. Though the doorway to that room is a wide arch with no actual door, we used a puppy pen to block her access to the rest of the house. The puppy pen is quite high and she’s not an elite jumper, so we thought she would remain in the room.

Over the course of the week, her location when we returned was variable, and we were beginning to think of her as a real Houdini dog. Sometimes she was sleeping on the couch or lying on the floor enjoying an appropriate chew toy in the back room. Those were the good moments. Other times, she was at various other places in the house—in the upstairs hallway, in the kitchen, in the living room or dining room. She was never in the bedrooms or bathrooms because we closed the doors to those areas, but with an open plan house, our close-the-door strategy had its limits.

The first time she got out of the back room, there was clear evidence that she had pushed the gate in various ways to spring herself free, but after that, we used chairs, stools and various other means to prevent that from happening again. Yet, we kept coming home to find Peanut unconstrained by our techniques, and the gate intact. We considered the possibility that she was jumping or climbing the gate, but she just isn’t one of those dogs with a remarkable vertical leap, and we’d not seen any signs of her climbing tendencies, either.

The reason we couldn’t figure out how she was escaping was because of our own constrained thinking. We were only considering the one doorway out of that room because that is the only way we ever enter or leave the room. There is, however, another way out, and though we didn’t think about it, it did not escape Peanut’s notice. That room is next to our kitchen, and there is a faux window that leads from the back room to the kitchen. By jumping up on a set of stacking tables in the back room, Peanut was easily able to reach this passageway into the kitchen. Then, it was easy enough for her to jump through that open space into the kitchen sink, and from there, the house was hers to enjoy.

Once we moved those tables away, it was easy to keep her confined to the back room, as she was unable to escape, and we faced no more surprises upon returning home. Despite her escapes into the rest of the house, she did very little damage. A flip flop has a few bite marks in it, and the first chapter of one paperback book is no longer in mint condition. Such chewing activity is pretty mild stuff for a young puppy, and we are grateful. Considering our idiocy in not realizing what an easy escape route we had provided to Peanut, we are lucky.

Has your dog found ways to escape confinement that seemed obvious to you only after the fact?

NBA Player Klay Thompson Stars at the Dog Park
Klay Thompson and Rocco play fetch at Berkeley's Cesar Chavez Park

Ever wonder how a professional athlete handles the pressure of competition and a grueling 6-month long schedule? For burgeoning NBA star Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, it’s a walk in the park … the dog park. When Klay isn’t in the gym or on the road, he likes to take his dog Rocco, an English bulldog, to his local off-leash area at Cesar Chavez Park in nearby Berkeley (CA). We’ve seen him there, playing fetch and doing what dog people do … unwinding, taking in some fresh air. “With me, my friends or my family, I can’t help but talk about basketball, so this is my escape,” Thompson is quoted in a San Francisco Chronicle profile.

ESPN analyst and hall-of-fame player Charles Barkley calls the 6 ft 9 Thompson the best NBA player at his position—strong praise. Thompson’s team, the Golden State Warriors, apparently agrees, recently resigning their star shooting guard to a multi-year, $70 million contract. What was Thompson’s response at the post-signing press conference? “We were trying to get the contract signed, and all he wanted to do was go home to his dog,” mused Warrior general manager Bob Myers.

We know the joys firsthand of Cesar Chavez Park OLA, it’s where the idea for The Bark was born. In fact, the 17-acre OLA overlooking the San Francisco Bay was founded by Bark co-founder Claudia Kawczynska in 2000. One of the founding dogs was Claudia’s dog Nellie … named after former Warrior coach Don Nelson. A bit of history we think Klay Thompson would appreciate.

Fun With a Dog on Live TV
An unexpected entrance

Live TV and dogs are a volatile mix, and one meteorologist in South Florida recently experienced the full fun of that combination. Right in the middle of Ryan Phillips’ segment, King unexpectedly showed up and hopped on the desk. The entrance may have taken Phillips off guard, but he was able to roll with it. He greeted King warmly, kept on talking, and shifted to another part of the studio for the rest of the weather report. He commented that King (who is the pet of the week and available for adoption) has to wait one more segment because it is not his turn yet.

Presumably, there were attempts to control King, and my best guess is that it was a pretty entertaining scene even if the station chose to air the weather map and their meteorologist instead of showing King’s antics. I would give anything to see footage of the amateur dog wranglers’ efforts, because I imagine that people whose skills make them experts at putting on a TV show do not necessarily mean that they have dog handling experience. In support of that claim, notice that even though King rushed his on-screen debut, he was still on leash, which means that he probably just pulled it out of someone’s hand. (Moments later, it looks as though someone off camera had gotten hold of it again.)

Has your dog ever made an unexpected entrance at an event?

How Dogs Process Speech
Study uncovers similarity between the human and canine brain.





























I like to think that my dogs can understand what I'm saying. Of course they don't know English, but they've learned to make associations with certain words and cue off of the inflection in my voice. Even if they can't understand everything that comes out of my mouth, my pets can tell the difference between when I'm angry, excited, or sad. In some ways this is similar to communicating with a person who speaks a different language. That comparison may not be that far off as we learn more about how the canine brain translates human speech.

A study published last week found that dogs process words with meaning in a different part of the brain than where they deal with meaningless verbal sounds in which they must look for emotional cues.

Victoria Ratcliffe at the University of Sussex set up an experiment among 250 dogs to explore how they understand and process the different components of our speech. Scientists know that animals show hemispheric bias (which side of the brain is doing the work) in how they translate sounds of their own species, but Victoria wanted to explore if domesticated animals would show hemispheric bias for human sounds.

In the study, speakers were put on either side of the dogs' heads that played the same sound. First Victoria played a voice saying a word that held meaning to the dog (like "come"), then she played around with the speech by removing inflections or replacing the words with meaningless verbal noise. Each time Victoria played a sound, she recorded which way the dogs turned their head.

Although both speakers played the same recording, the dogs consistently turned their heads towards the left or right speaker, depending on the noise. When the pups heard a meaningful word, about 80 percent turned their head to the right (engaging the left hemisphere of their brain). When they heard a meaningless sound (and had to pick up on emotional cues), most dogs turned their head to the left (engaging the right hemisphere of the brain).

Victoria believes that dogs break up speech into two parts: emotional cues and meaning. It then processes these two components on opposite sides of the brain, emotional cues in the right hemisphere and meaning in the left hemisphere--similar to humans!

Neurobiologist, Attila Andics at the MTA-ELTE Comparative Ethology Research Group in Budapest, believes that this information could even be used to more efficiently communicate with your dog, targeting emotional noises to the left ear and cues you want the dog to understand clearly to the right ear. This doesn't seem that practical, especially since most words out of your mouth will have both emotion and meaning to the dog, but I would love to see more research in this area so we can uncover information that can help us better communicate with our pets.

Editors

JoAnna Lou

Karen B. London

Weekly Smilers

JoAnna Lou

Karen B. London

Karen B. London

JoAnna Lou

Editors

Karen B. London

Karen B. London

JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou

Weekly Smilers

Karen B. London

Karen B. London

Editors

JoAnna Lou

Karen B. London

Shirley Zindler