Tag Archives: dogs

Dogs in history

As man’s best friend, dogs have been at our side through important moments in history.  Today, I came across this photo in a collection of photos from scrap metal drives held during World War II.

America needed raw materials for the war; a single tank weighed 18 tons.

Scrap metal drives were a way for the community to get behind the war effort, often competing with one another to see who could collect the most metals.

And of course dogs helped…

Dog in World War II scrap metal drive

Image: Leslie Jones/Boston Public Library

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

Can your dog boost your sex appeal?

Yes, according to a new study published in Anthrozoös,  a multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals.

Dogs and dating

Photo courtesy of http://www.DogChannel.com

In collaboration with the pet store chain PetSmart, the researchers recruited 1,210 single pet owners through the online dating service Match.com. In the pool of participants, 60% were women and 40% were men; 72% were dog owners and 42% cat owners.

The subjects took a 21-question online survey about how pets entered into their dating lives and 35% percent of women and 26% of men said they had been more attracted to someone because they owned a pet.

Dogs won 500 of the 600 votes for the sexiest pet a guy could own.

Author of the recently published article entitled ‘The Roles of Pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating’ Peter Gray, said: “The direction of these patterns in results was toward cats being exploited less often than dogs as “social tools” in the dating world”.

So if you want to increase your dating chances, get a dog.

Source:  Taylor & Francis media release

The Roles of Pet Dogs and Cats in Human Courtship and Dating, Peter B. Gray et al, Volume 28, Issue 4, 2015, Anthrozoös: A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions of people and animals.

Read the full article online:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08927936.2015.1064216

Dogs evolved with climate change

World leaders are meeting right now in Paris to discuss climate change…but did you know that dogs evolved in part because of climate change?

A study of North American dog fossils as old as 40 million years suggests that the evolutionary path of whole groups of predators  – including dogs – can be a direct consequence of climate change.  The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.

“It’s reinforcing the idea that predators may be as directly sensitive to climate and habitat as herbivores,” said Christine Janis, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, who worked with lead author Borja Figueirido, a former Brown Fulbright postdoctoral researcher who is now a professor at the Universidad de Málaga in Spain. “Although this seems logical, it hadn’t been demonstrated before.”

The climate in North America’s heartland back around 40 million years ago was warm and wooded. Dogs are native to North America. The species of the time, fossils show, were small animals that would have looked more like mongooses than any dogs alive today and were well-adapted to that habitat. Their forelimbs were not specialized for running, retaining the flexibility to grapple with whatever meal unwittingly walked by.

Early Dogs

Two early dogs, Hesperocyon, left and the later Sunkahetanka, were both ambush-style predators. As climate changes transformed their habitat, dogs evolved pursuit hunting styles and forelimb anatomy to match.
Image: Mauricio Anton

But beginning just a few million years later, the global climate began cooling considerably; the forests slowly gave way to open grasslands.

Pups of the plains

Did this transition affect the evolution of carnivores? To find out, Figueirido and the research team, including Jack Tseng of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, examined the elbows and teeth of 32 species of dogs spanning the period from ca. 40 million years ago to 2 million years ago. They saw clear patterns in those bones at the museum: At the same time that climate change was opening up the vegetation, dogs were evolving from ambushers to pursuit-pounce predators like modern coyotes or foxes — and ultimately to those dogged, follow-a-caribou-for-a-whole-day pursuers like wolves in the high latitudes.

“The elbow is a really good proxy for what carnivores are doing with their forelimbs, which tells their entire locomotion repertoire,” Janis said.

The telltale change in those elbows has to do with the structure of the base where the humerus articulates with the forearm, changing from one where the front paws could swivel (palms can be inward or down) for grabbing and wrestling prey to one with an always downward-facing structure specialized for endurance running. Modern cats still rely on ambush rather than the chase (cheetahs are the exception) and have the forelimbs to match, Janis said, but canines signed up for lengthier pursuits.

In addition, the dogs’ teeth trended toward greater durability, Figueirido’s team found, consistent perhaps with the need to chow down on prey that had been rolled around in the grit of the savannah, rather than a damp, leafy forest floor.

If predators evolved with climate change over the last 40 million years, the authors argue, then they likely will have to continue in response to the human-created climate change underway now. The new results could help predict the effects we are setting in motion.

“Now we’re looking into the future at anthropogenic changes,” Janis said.

Source:  Brown University media release

Research shows why cats are more independent than dogs

Domestic cats do not generally see their owners as a focus of safety and security in the same way that dogs do, according to new research.

Relaxed cat and dog. While it is increasingly recognized that cats are more social and more capable of shared relationships than traditionally thought, this latest research shows that adult cats appear to be more autonomous -- even in their social relationships -- and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of protection. Credit: © bodza2 / Fotolia

Relaxed cat and dog. While it is increasingly recognized that cats are more social and more capable of shared relationships than traditionally thought, this latest research shows that adult cats appear to be more autonomous — even in their social relationships — and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of protection.
Credit: © bodza2 / Fotolia

The study by animal behaviour specialists at the University of Lincoln, UK, shows that while dogs perceive their owners as a safe base, the relationship between people and their feline friends appears to be quite different.

While it is increasingly recognised that cats are more social and more capable of shared relationships than traditionally thought, this latest research shows that adult cats appear to be more autonomous – even in their social relationships – and not necessarily dependent on others to provide a sense of protection.

The research, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, was led by Professor Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine at the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, along with Alice Potter – who studied as a postgraduate at Lincoln and now works with the Companion Animals Science Group at the RSPCA.

Professor Mills said: “The domestic cat has recently passed the dog as the most popular companion animal in Europe, with many seeing a cat as an ideal pet for owners who work long hours. Previous research has suggested that some cats show signs of separation anxiety when left alone by their owners, in the same way that dogs do, but the results of our study show that they are in fact much more independent than canine companions. It seems that what we interpret as separation anxiety might actually be signs of frustration.”

The Lincoln researchers carefully adapted the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test (SST), which has been widely used to demonstrate that the bond between young children or pet dogs with their primary carer can be categorised as a ‘secure attachment’ – where the carer is seen as a focus of safety and security in potentially threatening (or unfamiliar) environments.

The study observed the relationships between a number of cats and their owners, placing the pets in an unfamiliar environment together with their owner, with a stranger and also on their own. In varying scenarios, it assessed three different characteristics of attachment; the amount of contact sought by the cat, the level of passive behaviour, and signs of distress caused by the absence of the owner.

“Although our cats were more vocal when the owner rather than the stranger left them with the other individual, we didn’t see any additional evidence to suggest that the bond between a cat and its owner is one of secure attachment.”

“For pet dogs, their owners often represent a specific safe haven; however it is clear that domestic cats are much more autonomous when it comes to coping with unusual situations.”

Source:  University of Lincoln media release

Image

Doggy quote of the month for October

Samuel Butler quotation

The healthy heart: lessons from nature’s elite athletes

Kida, a 110-pound Alaskan malamute, runs on a treadmill in Terrie Williams' lab at UC Santa Cruz. Dogs are better adapted for endurance exercise than cats, and humans are more like dogs in that respect. Photo credit: Caleb Bryce, UCSC

Kida, a 110-pound Alaskan malamute, runs on a treadmill in Terrie Williams’ lab at UC Santa Cruz. Dogs are better adapted for endurance exercise than cats, and humans are more like dogs in that respect.
Photo credit: Caleb Bryce, UCSC

For over 30 years, Terrie Williams has been studying exercise physiology in wild animals: African lions and wild dogs, dolphins and whales, coyotes and mountain lions, as well as a few human athletes.

These studies have given Williams, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC  (University of California) Santa Cruz, a unique perspective on exercise and health, which she presents in an article titled “The Healthy Heart: Lessons from Nature’s Elite Athletes,” published in the September 2015 issue of the journal Physiology.

In the course of her research, Williams has found that dogs and cats are opposites in terms of aerobic capacity and maximum heart rate, and humans are more like dogs, adapted for endurance exercise (chasing down prey), while cats are built for the short bursts of speed used in stalk-and-pounce hunting. This difference is reflected in heart size relative to total body mass (larger hearts in dogs and humans, smaller hearts in cats).

Heart disease is exceedingly rare in wild animals, but it is the leading cause of death in humans worldwide. There are many plausible explanations for this, but one factor stands out above all others: the difference in daily activity levels. “We just don’t ask our hearts to do very much on a daily basis,” Williams said.

For Williams, the main reason to study exercise physiology in animals is to better understand how much energy they have to expend to live in their environments, and how they might be affected by environmental changes and human activities.

Source:  EurekAlert! media release

Re-visiting Old Friends

Old Friends

Today, I worked at Old Friends.  This is the ‘old people’s home’ of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  Besides helping to take dogs for walks in the cooler morning hours, I also got to use my massage skills on some special needs dogs.

Google

Google

Google was rescued from Kanab, Utah.  He spent most of his life chained; and as a result he has neck problems.  Because of his neck problems, his back, mid-thoracic, is also tight.  Google thoroughly enjoyed his massage.

Google has been at Best Friends for some time; he's over the age of 12 and still looking for a home. He's also been a blood donor for other dogs. Some nice person is sponsoring him so he can receive a free flight anywhere in the USA if adopted.

Google has been at Best Friends for some time; he’s over the age of 12 and still looking for a home. He’s also been a blood donor for other dogs. Some nice person is sponsoring him so he can receive a free flight anywhere in the USA if adopted.

Wrangler, who is suffering from heartworm

Wrangler, who is suffering from heartworm

Wrangler had just had his second injection as part of heartworm treatment.  Dogs undergoing this treatment have a series of injections and are restricted in exercise to ensure that the worms don’t dislodge from the heart causing respiratory arrest.

Wrangler needed very light massage (so not to stress his system) and few acupressure points for relaxation.

By the end of his massage, Wrangler rewarded me with a smile

By the end of his massage, Wrangler rewarded me with a smile

I am convinced that there is a role for massage therapy in the shelter environment, particularly for long-term residents and those with special health needs.

I am grateful to the caregivers at Old Friends who allowed me to work with these animals.

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