Category Archives: Dogs

The impact of movies on dog breed popularity

The effect of movies featuring dogs on the popularity of dog breeds can last up to ten years and is correlated with the general success of the movies, according to new research from the University of Bristol, the City University of New York, and Western Carolina University.

The researchers used data from the American Kennel Club, which maintains the world’s largest dog registry totaling over 65 million dogs, and analysed a total of 87 movies featuring dogs. They found that the release of movies is often associated to an increase in popularity of featured breeds over periods of one, two, five, and ten years.

The influence of movies was strongest in the early twentieth century and has declined since.

Additionally, they found that these trend changes correlated significantly with the number of viewers during the movie’s opening weekend, considered as a proxy of the movie’s reach among the general public.

This suggests that viewing a movie may cause a long-lasting preference for a breed that can be expressed years later, when the time comes to buy a new dog.

The 1943 hit Lassie Come Home is associated, in the following two years, with a 40 per cent increase of Collie registrations in the American Kennel Club.

Lassie Come Home theater poster

An even more dramatic example is the 100-fold increase in Old English Sheepdog registrations following the 1959 Disney movie The Shaggy Dog.

Photo taken by Harald Urnes, Norway

Photo taken by Harald Urnes, Norway

Professor Stefano Ghirlanda, lead author of the study said: “We focused on changes in trend popularity rather than on popularity itself to avoid attributing to movies trends that were already ongoing before movie release, as up-trending breeds may have been chosen more often for movies.”

Earlier movies are associated with generally larger trend changes than later movies. This might be due to an increased competition with other media, such as television, and more recently, the internet, but also to an increased competition among movies. Movies featuring dogs were released at a rate of less than one per year until about 1940 but a rate of more than seven per year by 2005.

Dr Alberto Acerbi, a Newton Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol and co-author of the paper said: “If people buy en masse dogs because they appear in movies the consequences can be negative for the dogs themselves. Our previous study found that the most popular breeds had the greatest number of inherited disorders.

“It’s not surprising that we tend to follow social cues and fashions, as this is a quite effective strategy in many situations. However, in particular cases the outcomes can be negative. When choosing a new pet, we may want to act differently.”

Source:  EurekAlert! media release

Facial recognition software for dogs

A new app, Finding Rover, aims to reunite owners with their lost dogs and to support the work of animal shelters.

Simply register (for free), upload a photo of your dog, and go.    When someone finds your dog, they send in a photo of the dog’s face to be scanned and matched through the database.

Of course, micro-chipping  is also a good way to identify your dog in the event it gets lost.  Micro-chipping is now mandatory in New Zealand.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

What Dog Sled Teams Can Teach Us About Leadership

Sled dogs

Dr Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, an international business networking organization, wrote this really interesting piece on leadership.  For where you work now, ask yourself – who are the leaders?

SuccessNet Online – What Dog Sled Teams Can Teach Us About Leadership

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Wordless Wednesday, part 48

Photo courtesy of Karen Eckstein Han

Photo courtesy of Karen Eckstein Han

Blog Hop

Beware of riding escalators with your dog!

The San Francisco SPCA has issued a warning for all dog owners:  exercise caution when taking your dog with you on an escalator.

EscalatorThe SPCA’s two hospitals regularly receive emergency visits by dogs injured on escalators.  The majority of cases are small breed dogs who are riding on escalators at BART stations (the rapid transit/commuter services in the San Francisco area) or at shopping malls.

However, any size dog can be injured on an escalator.

Injuries are usually to the paws, often requiring toes to be amputated.

Prevention is easy:

  • Use stairs or elevators (lifts) as opposed to escalators
  • Fit your dog with protective booties
  • Carry your dog when using an escalator

Teddy’s journey: what the fracture looked like

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and so before next week and another update on Teddy’s progress, here is what Teddy’s elbow fracture looked like.

Compare the x-ray of the right, broken leg with that of the left.  It was a dramatic break.

Left elbow xrayRight elbow xray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are not looking back, however.  Teddy has had a good week and we are looking forward to even more as we get him comfortable and happy in his new life as a tripod.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Using GPS to understand sheep herding

Border collie for herding column

Dr Andrew King of Swansea University has used GPS technology to understand how sheepdogs do their jobs so well.

He  fitted a flock of sheep and a sheepdog with backpacks containing extremely accurate GPS devices designed by colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College, London.  Daniel Strömbom of Uppsala University and colleagues then used data from these devices, together with computer simulations, to develop a mathematical shepherding model.

The team found that sheepdogs likely use just two simple rules: to collect the sheep when they’re dispersed and drive them forward when they’re aggregated. In the model, a single shepherd could herd a flock of more than 100 individuals using these two simple rules.

Andrew King explained,  “If you watch sheepdogs rounding up sheep, the dog weaves back and forth behind the flock in exactly the way that we see in the model. We had to think about what the dog could see to develop our model. It basically sees white, fluffy things in front of it. If the dog sees gaps between the sheep, or the gaps are getting bigger, the dog needs to bring them together.”

Daniel Strömbom said, “At every time step in the model, the dog decides if the herd is cohesive enough or not. If not cohesive, it will make it cohesive, but if it’s already cohesive the dog will push the herd towards the target.”

King believes that the research team’s model will have many applications for tasks like crowd control, herding of livestock, and keeping animals away from sensitive areas.  The algorithm developed could be used to program robots for these tasks.

Source:  Natural Environment Research Council media release