Military dogs on stamps

The United States Postal Service has announced a new release of stamps for 2019 dedicated to military dogs.

The Forever stamp set includes five, four-stamp blocks (20 stamps in total). Each block has a German Shepherd stamp, a Labrador Retriever stamp, a Belgian Malinois stamp and a Dutch Shepherd stamp.

The release date for the stamps isn’t known yet; but they are going to be hot property for dogs lovers and stamp collectors alike!

 

Military Dog stamp set

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced DogChristchurch, New Zealand

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Helping the Hounds of Macau — Whippet Wisdom – a Highland Journey

We want to share a story with you today about greyhounds that have been racing far away, in the Canidrome at Macau. Greyhound breeders from Australia sent their slower dogs here without much regard for their welfare. The ground on the track was hard, the facilities for the greyhounds were poor. Many were […]

via Helping the Hounds of Macau — Whippet Wisdom – a Highland Journey

Izzy, the poster dog of The Balanced Dog, is a greyhound.  We had to share this post because there are many greyhounds needing homes.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Heavy (or automatic) petting?

We live in an era of automation.  There’s a machine for just about everything.

Would you want a machine to take over the ‘job’ of petting your dog?  Woodworker Matt Thompson of Michigan thinks so.

Here’s his prototype design…

Nice idea?

I’m not sure if all the dogs would approve.  My greyhound, Izzy, likes to be petted while laying  in her (or my) bed.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Feeding eggs to dogs

I feed eggs to Izzy, my greyhound.

If you read the internet for advice on dog nutrition, you’ll probably find references about not feeding raw eggs because this could lead to biotin deficiency.  Egg whites contain avidin, an enzyme that interferes with biotin.  

Biotin is one of the complex B vitamins group and it’s linked to a number of key health benefits, including:

  • Healthy skin and coat
  • Proper muscle formation
  • Healthy digestion
  • Normal growth
  • Improved energy
  • Thyroid and adrenal gland function

What these references rarely say, however, is that the egg yolk is very high in biotin.  So if you are feeding the entire egg – not just the egg white – there really shouldn’t be a major risk.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you feed your dog eggs as a steady diet – let’s remember that old adage about “everything in moderation.”  Rather consider eggs to be a pretty nifty package of nutrition.  They are a great source of bio-available protein and, for most dogs, they are highly digestible.

An egg or 3 a week (small dogs require less) for dogs that are at their ideal weight, is a nutritious and easy source of fresh food and nutrition.

I like to feed Izzy her eggs cooked – with a little dried tripe as an omelette:

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Responsible dog ownership

In the USA, it’s National Responsible Pet Ownership month (it’s also Pet Dental Health Month).  How can we explain what it means to be a responsible dog owner/guardian/parent?  There are 4 key areas to consider.

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Choose the right dog at the right time

Making the decision to add a dog to your family is an important life choice.  If the dog needs tons of exercise like a Siberian Husky, and you live in a small apartment and work long hours, then probably not the best choice.  If you are about to start a new job, or are in a new relationship, as examples, then probably not the best timing because you can’t focus your time on integrating your dog into your household.   In New Zealand, there seems to be a lot of people who decide to move overseas; if this is a possibility for you then maybe bringing a dog into your life isn’t the right choice unless you are prepared to take the dog with you (which is an expensive exercise requiring a lot of planning and preparation).

A dog is a lifetime commitment.  Ask yourself – do you have what it takes for the next 10-15 years?

Invest in wellbeing – prevention is better than cure

Be prepared to spend money on things like regular vet checks and vaccinations.  Flea control is another cost that is often overlooked until there’s a problem and by then, the fleas are established in your carpets and causing problems.  Choose a high quality diet (“you are what you eat”) and feed only healthy treats.  Keep your dog fit and trim.

Also important is investing is your dog’s mental health.  Avoid behavior problems by working on training, having enriching activities and toys available in rotation, and regular exercise.  Dogs need sleep, too.  So think carefully about the need for commercial daycare.  For most dogs, these facilities tend to overstimulate dogs and can create other behavioral problems if the dogs is left in these situations every day of the week.

As a professional canine massage therapist, I highly recommend massage as a technique for wellbeing and not just rehabilitation after injuries because it helps relax the dog and keeps their bodies moving efficiently.  It can also identify suspect lumps/bumps early so they can be checked by the vet.  Spend the money for a regular professional massage or take a class to learn basic massage which you can do yourself.

Compliance – obey the law

Licensing costs and leash laws are commonplace.  Cleaning up your dog’s poos is expected. We can all do our part by complying with local regulations.

Carry ID

In New Zealand, microchipping is mandatory.  It’s also advisable to have an identification tag on your dog’s collar with your phone number.  In 2011, when we experienced our large earthquake in Christchurch, many dogs went missing.  Those that had microchips registered on the national database and/or had identification tags found their way back to their families much faster.  Some never made it home.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Doggy quote of the month for February

“Our dogs will love and admire the meanest of us, and feed our colossal vanity with the uncritical homage.”

– Agnes Repplier, American essayist (1855 – 1950)

Do Bigger Brains Equal Smarter Dogs?

Bigger dogs, with larger brains, perform better on certain measures of intelligence than their smaller canine counterparts, according to a new study led by the University of Arizona.

bigger vs smaller

Bigger dogs have better short-term memory and self-control than more petite pups. Credit: © alexzizu / Fotolia

Larger-brained dogs outperform smaller dogs on measures of executive functions – a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for controlling and coordinating other cognitive abilities and behaviors. In particular, bigger dogs have better short-term memory and self-control than more petite pups, according to the study published in the journal Animal Cognition.

“The jury is out on why, necessarily, brain size might relate to cognition,” said lead study author Daniel Horschler, a UA anthropology doctoral student and member of the UA’s Arizona Canine Cognition Center. “We think of it as probably a proxy for something else going on, whether it’s the number of neurons that matters or differences in connectivity between neurons. Nobody’s really sure yet, but we’re interested in figuring out what those deeper things are.”

Canine brain size does not seem to be associated with all types of intelligence, however. Horschler found that brain size didn’t predict a dog’s performance on tests of social intelligence, which was measured by testing each dog’s ability to follow human pointing gestures. It also wasn’t associated with a dog’s inferential and physical reasoning ability.

The study’s findings mirror what scientists have previously found to be true in primates – that brain size is associated with executive functioning, but not other types of intelligence.

“Previous studies have been composed mostly or entirely of primates, so we weren’t sure whether the result was an artifact of unique aspects of primate brain evolution,” Horschler said. “We think dogs are a really great test case for this because there’s huge variation in brain size, to a degree you don’t see in pretty much any other terrestrial mammals. You have chihuahuas versus Great Danes and everything in between.”

Horschler’s study is based on data from more than 7,000 purebred domestic dogs from 74 different breeds. Brain size was estimated based on breed standards.

The data came from the citizen science website Dognition.com, which offers instructions for dog owners to test their canines’ cognitive abilities through a variety of game-based activities. The users then submit their data to the site, where it can be accessed by researchers.

Short-term memory was tested by dog owners hiding a treat, in view of their dog, under one of two overturned plastic cups. Owners then waited 60, 90, 120 or 150 seconds before releasing their dog to get the treat. Smaller dogs had more difficulty remembering where the treat was hidden.

To test self-control, owners placed a treat in front of their seated dog and then forbade the dog from taking it. Owners then either watched the dog, covered their own eyes or turned away from the dog. Larger-breed dogs typically waited longer to snag the forbidden treat.

Horschler and his colleagues controlled for whether or not the dogs had been trained. They found that larger-brained breeds had better short-term memory and self-control than smaller dogs, regardless of the extent of training the dogs had received.

In the future, Horschler said he’d like to do comparative studies of cognitive abilities in different breed varieties, such as the miniature poodle and much larger standard poodle, which are essentially the same except for their size.

“I’m really interested in how cognition evolves and how that arises biologically,” Horschler said. “We’re coming to understand that brain size is in some way related to cognition, whether it’s because of brain size specifically or whether it’s a proxy for something else.”

Source:  University of Arizona media release