Izzy’s cabin fever

For the last few days it has been raining when we normally go out for morning walks.  And Izzy doesn’t like walking when it is really raining.  She prefers to do her business and head for home.

But those shorter walks (thankfully, the afternoon walks haven’t been affected by rain) have meant that she has excess energy.  This energy burst forth this afternoon when she had to play with a range of toys before she settled for dinner and a rest. This went on for over 30 minutes – most unusual for my sedate greyhound.

Here she is, in all her glory, playing with her basketball:

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Re-branding and going viral

It’s been particularly busy the last few days.  I had expected it to be busy – just not this busy.

The planned part of the weekend was my company re-branding.  At long last, my business is now The Balanced Dog Ltd – a practice focused on professional dog massage and natural care.

When I started in business in 2007, it was as a maker of preservative-free dog treats and cakes and so the company name of Canine Catering suited…but by 2010, my dog massage practice was growing and it is this aspect of natural dog care that has become my passion.

The new name also reflects my interests in Traditional Chinese Medicine and nutrition.  It’s all about balance and health.

But what I didn’t expect this weekend was my first truly viral post on Facebook.  A client of mine shared this cartoon with me and it all took off from there:

This is Jill

You see, last month my column about this subject was published in NZ Dog World magazine.  I’m increasingly concerned about how people are taking to Facebook for medical diagnosis (instead of seeking professional veterinary care).

It’s okay to seek advice from peers when your dog has a known condition.  Support groups for all types of disorders exist on social media; I’ve used them myself.

And I guess a lot of people agree with me – I’ve tripled the number of Facebook likes on my page and have had over 1.5 million views.  Not bad for an independent canine massage practitioner from little old New Zealand…

Thanks for reading my blog; I’ve been writing it for five years now and I still enjoy it and the connections I have made with some dedicated dog parents.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Oh…and here’s my column about “Dr Facebook” if you’re interested:

December 2015

Bear’s best friends

Detection dog for bears

Camas, of Working Dogs for Conservation, on the job in the Centennial Mountains.  Photo credit:  Julie Larsen Maher

A recently released study from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) details a new method using  “detection dogs,” genetic analysis, and scientific models to assess habitat suitability for bears in an area linking the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) to the northern U.S. Rockies.

The method, according to the authors, offers an effective, non-invasive approach to the collection of data that could play a vital role in the further recovery of grizzly bears during the coming decades.

“The use of detection dogs allowed us to quantify and map key areas of habitat for black bears in the Centennial Mountains located along the Idaho-Montana border west of Yellowstone National Park,” said Jon Beckmann, WCS Scientist and lead author of the study. “Black bears are a proxy species useful for predicting likely grizzly bear habitat. With recovery, a larger grizzly bear population needs room to roam and to reconnect with other populations. The Centennial Mountains region of the U.S. northern Rockies can provide room and safe linkages— critical to connecting the bear population in the GYE area to others further north and west”. 

During the study, two Labrador retrievers and two German shepherds owned and trained by Working Dogs for Conservation, located 616 scat samples of black bears and 24 of grizzly bears (identified by DNA extraction and analysis) in the 2500 square kilometer (965 square mile) study area.

“Dogs excel at searching for multiple scents at once, even if one is far more common than the other,” according to Aimee Hurt, Working Dogs for Conservation co-founder. “In this case, the dogs easily alerted us to a multitude of black bear scat, while also readily locating the rare grizzly bear scat, resulting in a multitude of data points and a robust model.”

“We recognize that black bears do not always utilize the landscape in precisely the same manner as grizzly bears,” said Beckmann. “But given the paucity of grizzly bears in the study area—especially  during the years of our study—our  approach, data, and model have value to grizzly bear conservation and management. This is especially true given that black bears and grizzly bears in the GYE are known to utilize very similar habitats spatially, but at different times.” 

Plugging the scat sample location data into their scientific model, the scientists examined the landscape with respect to habitat parameters, private lands, public land management and human activity in the area. Results of modeling provided insight into bear habitat use and resource selection patterns.

Among the findings it was determined that distance to roads matters; bears use habitat that is farther from roads, and when road density increased within 4 kilometers of a location bears used that habitat less. Bears also used a habitat less if it were high elevation, or privately owned. With this information land managers, land trusts, and others will be better informed to make bear habitat management and conservation decisions. This study may also inform human-bear conflict avoidance, and so help people and bears better co-exist.

“Using Detection Dogs and RSPF Models to Assess Habitat Suitability for Bears in Greater Yellowstone,” appears in the current edition of Western North American Naturalist. Co-authors include: Jon P. Beckmann of WCS; Lisette P. Waits of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, University of Idaho; Aimee Hurt and Alice Whitelaw of Working Dogs for Conservation; and Scott Bergen of Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

WCS’s work in this region is supported by the Turner Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Brainerd Foundation, The New York Community Trust, and the Bureau of Land Management–Dillon, Montana office.

Source:  Wildlife Conservation Society media release

 

 

Dogs in the photo booth

Rescue groups who want to increase their adoption rates may want to look at the great work being done by Guinnevere Shuster, who is social media coordinator at the Humane Society of Utah and also a professional photographer.

Ms Shuster has taken dogs out of the shelter environment and put the dogs in a photo booth setting to help show off their good looks and individual personalities.  (There are no bars in these adoption photos).

Adoption photo booth photo

When interviewed by website DIY Photography, she said It helps a great deal, almost all of these dogs have been adopted within a couple days of being posted, some even have people lining up at the front door before we open.”

What shelter wouldn’t want these results?  (And if the shelter isn’t lucky enough to have a photographer on staff, then it’s an opportunity to ask for this support from a local photographer – helping to promote their business, too).

Due to time constraints, Guinnevere can only photograph two dogs per week.  It’s a worthwhile investment of time to see the dogs placed in new forever homes.

Adoption photo 2

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

The FBI is now tracking cases of animal abuse

This year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will begin collecting data on animal cruelty crimes throughout the USA to prevent animal abuse and help flag those who might become violent offenders.

This is a change in departure in how statistics are kept and used.  In the past, animal cruelty was simply classified in an ‘other’ category.

The link between violent offenders and animal abuse is undeniable; animal welfare advocates have universally applauded the move.

This article in The Christian Science Monitor explains the importance of the shift.

 

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

 

 

It’s safe to cuddle when you’re sick

This winter, when you are home sick with the cold or flu cuddling with your dog or cat may feel like just what the doctor ordered.

A Vanderbilt infectious disease expert, while stopping short of actually prescribing in-home “pet therapy” for colds or flu, says that if having your companion by your side makes you feel better, go right ahead. Pets won’t catch or spread human viruses.

Izzy, greyhound, uin bed and ready to cuddle
“The pet is a comfort, not a hazard,” said William Schaffner, M.D., professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Even somebody who pets the dog or cat after you is unlikely to catch your virus that way, and “you can’t get a cold or the flu from your dog or cat,” Schaffner said.

While pets are pretty much off the hook, Schaffner says the true hazard in catching a virus comes from fellow two-legged creatures.

“Flu is transmitted person-to-person through close personal contact. If you get within my breathing zone, within three feet, I can transfer the influenza virus to you. I breathe it out, you breathe it in, and you can be infected,” Schaffner said.

Colds and flu can also be transmitted by hand—handshaking extroverts take note—or via some surfaces, such as when a sick person touches a doorknob, for example, and somebody else touches the same surface, and then touches his or her face.

“People should wash their hands often and use hand sanitizer,” Schaffner said. “Also, when flu is rampant in the community, greet friends with an elbow bump rather than a handshake.”

People and their pets have this in common: the best way to avoid getting sick is to be immunized—with pets it’s their vaccinations, and with people it’s a flu shot.

Source:  Newswise media release

Study shows dogs can recognise human emotions

Dogs can recognise emotions in humans by combining information from different senses – an ability that has never previously been observed outside of humans, a new study reveals.

For the first time, researchers have shown that dogs must form abstract mental representations of positive and negative emotional states, and are not simply displaying learned behaviours when responding to the expressions of people and other dogs.

The findings from a team of animal behaviour experts and psychologists the University of Lincoln, UK, and University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

The researchers presented 17 domestic dogs with pairings of images and sounds conveying different combinations of positive (happy or playful) and negative (angry or aggressive) emotional expressions in humans and dogs. These distinct sources of sensory input – photos of facial expressions and audio clips of vocalisations (voices or barks) from unfamiliar subjects – were played simultaneously to the animals, without any prior training.

The team found the dogs spent significantly longer looking at the facial expressions which matched the emotional state (or valence) of the vocalisation, for both human and canine subjects.

Dogs and emotions study

The integration of different types of sensory information in this way indicates that dogs have mental representations of positive and negative emotional states of others.

Researcher Dr Kun Guo, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology, said: “Previous studies have indicated that dogs can differentiate between human emotions from cues such as facial expressions, but this is not the same as emotional recognition.

“Our study shows that dogs have the ability to integrate two different sources of sensory information into a coherent perception of emotion in both humans and dogs. To do so requires a system of internal categorisation of emotional states. This cognitive ability has until now only been evidenced in primates and the capacity to do this across species only seen in humans.”

Co-author Professor Daniel Mills, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: “It has been a long-standing debate whether dogs can recognise human emotions. Many dog owners report anecdotally that their pets seem highly sensitive to the moods of human family members.

However, there is an important difference between associative behaviour, such as learning to respond appropriately to an angry voice, and recognising a range of very different cues that go together to indicate emotional arousal in another. Our findings are the first to show that dogs truly recognise emotions in humans and other dogs.

“Importantly, the dogs in our trials received no prior training or period of familiarisation with the subjects in the images or audio. This suggests that dogs’ ability to combine emotional cues may be intrinsic. As a highly social species, such a tool would have been advantageous and the detection of emotion in humans may even have been selected for over generations of domestication by us.”

Source: AlphaGalileo media release