The Olympic diving dogs of Farmers Insurance

The Olympics are in full swing, covered in all forms of media but especially television.  I have to say that the Olympic-themed commercials in New Zealand are pretty bland.

My hat goes off to Farmers Insurance for their Flooded House Diving Dogs Competition commercial series – a great use of dogs and the Olympic theme.  A group of unattended dogs accidentally flood their home and compete in their own diving competiton.

There are eight commercials in the series starting with the Intro.  Once the Intro plays, simply click on the next video.

Enjoy watching Tank, Bubbles, Nacho, Churchill, Toby, Oksana and Montana…

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

 

Study demonstrates rapid decline in male dog fertility, with potential link to environmental contaminants

A study led by researchers at The University of Nottingham has discovered that the fertility of dogs may have suffered a sharp decline over the past three decades.

The research, published in the academic journal Scientific Reports, found that sperm quality in a population of stud dogs studied over a 26-year period had fallen significantly.

The work has highlighted a potential link to environmental contaminants, after they were able to demonstrate that chemicals found in the sperm and testes of adult dogs – and in some commercially available pet foods – had a detrimental effect on sperm function at the concentrations detected.

Semen study

Researchers believe that the latest results showing that dogs’ quality of semen has diminished may offer a new piece of the puzzle over the reported significant decline in human semen quality. Credit: © jurra8 / Fotolia

As ‘man’s best friend’ and closest companion animal, the researchers believe that the latest results may offer a new piece of the puzzle over the reported significant decline in human semen quality – a controversial subject which scientists continue to debate.

Dr Richard Lea, Reader in Reproductive Biology in the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, who led the research said: “This is the first time that such a decline in male fertility has been reported in the dog and we believe this is due to environmental contaminants, some of which we have detected in dog food and in the sperm and testes of the animals themselves.

“While further research is needed to conclusively demonstrate a link, the dog may indeed be a sentinel for humans – it shares the same environment, exhibits the same range of diseases, many with the same frequency and responds in a similar way to therapies.”

The study centred on samples taken from stud dogs at an assistance dogs breeding centre over the course of 26 years. Professor Gary England, Foundation Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and Professor of Comparative Veterinary Reproduction, who oversaw the collection of semen said: “The strength of the study is that all samples were processed and analysed by the same laboratory using the same protocols during that time and consequently the data generated is robust.”

The work centred on five specific breeds of dogs – Labrador retriever, golden retriever, curly coat retriever, border collie and German shepherd – with between 42 and 97 dogs studied every year.

Semen was collected from the dogs and analysed to assess the percentage of sperm that showed a normal forward progressive pattern of motility and that appeared normal under a microscope (morphology).

Over the 26 years of the study, they found a striking decrease in the percentage of normal motile sperm. Between 1988 and 1998, sperm motility declined by 2.5 per cent per year and following a short period when stud dogs of compromised fertility were retired from the study, sperm motility from 2002 to 2014 continued to decline at a rate of 1.2% per year.

In addition, the team discovered that the male pups generated from the stud dogs with declining semen quality, had an increased incidence of cryptorchidism, a condition in which the testes of pups fail to correctly descend into the scrotum.

Sperm collected from the same breeding population of dogs, and testes recovered from dogs undergoing routine castration, were found to contain environmental contaminants at concentrations able to disrupt sperm motility and viability when tested.

The same chemicals that disrupted sperm quality, were also discovered in a range of commercially available dog foods – including brands specifically marketed for puppies.

Dr Lea added: “We looked at other factors which may also play a part, for example, some genetic conditions do have an impact on fertility. However, we discounted that because 26 years is simply too rapid a decline to be associated with a genetic problem.”

Over the past 70 years, studies have suggested a significant decline in human semen quality and a cluster of issues called ‘testicular dysgenesis syndrome’ that impact on male fertility which also include increased incidence of testicular cancer, the birth defect hypospadias and undescended testes.

However, declining human semen quality remains a controversial issue – many have criticised the variability of the data of the studies on the basis of changes in laboratory methods, training of laboratory personnel and improved quality control over the years.

Dr Lea added: “The Nottingham study presents a unique set of reliable data from a controlled population which is free from these factors. This raises the tantalising prospect that the decline in canine semen quality has an environmental cause and begs the question whether a similar effect could also be observed in human male fertility.”

Source:  University of Nottingham media release

The art of Lucy Dawson

Lucy Dawson (1870-1854) was a British illustrator who was best known for her pen, ink and pastel drawings of dogs.  Sporting breeds were a favorite subject, but she also painted other breeds and her work can be found on collectible items such as postcards and cake tins.

Through used booksellers, you can still pick up copies of her illustrated books including Dogs As I See Them, Dogs Rough and Smooth and Lucy Dawson’s Dog Book.

Dogs Rough and Smooth

Dogs Rough and Smooth published in 1944

You can also purchase reproduction prints such as these:

Sleepy cocker spaniel

Sleepy Cocker Spaniel, 1937

Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier, 1946

Flaxman the Greyhound

Flaxman the Greyhound, 1946

Original works periodically turn up at auctions, for those who are die-hard collectors.

I particularly like how Ms Dawson was able to render the beautiful fur coats on the dogs she drew, a rare talent.

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

 

 

Bandito and Luigi

A pug named Bandito and a cat named Luigi have taken social media by storm. These companions,with over 25,000 followers across Facebook and Instragram, have walked 1500km across Spain with their humans, who purchased them a doggy stroller specifically for their travels.

Bandito and Luigi in stroller

 

Partners Finn and Sebastian let the pair become accustomed to the stroller at home for weeks before venturing out.  Eventually they walked the 497 mile Camino de Santiago trail together, a trip that took six weeks.

The stroller is a safe haven for Bandito and Luigi who use it as a resting place or a place to go when they are scared.

According to co-owner, Sebastian, Bandito and Luigi are the best of friends but he cautions that this style of travel would not suit all pets.

“It is easy if you act like it is their holiday but not if you overestimate your pet’s abilities.  We have had to be vigilant at all times. Inner cities are not ideal places, but fortunately we are in the countryside the vast majority [of time]. Because of this we can really enjoy our time together like climbing trees with the cat and running around with the pug.”   

I particularly like the style of stroller chosen for Bandito and Luigi.  It reminds me of the Pope Mobile used by Handsome Dan, the Vicktory dog featured in the documentary film The Champions.

Source:  The Telegraph and Pug and Cat Facebook

Gobi and her ultra marathoner

The story of Dion Leonard and the dog who accompanied him through the Gobi Desert ultra marathon earlier this year has been making its rounds through the internet this week.

What dog lover could pass up the chance to hear about the dog who decided to bond with a man she had never met, through an grueling endurance event?  It sounds very much the like the 2014 story of Arthur who adopted the Swedish Peak Performance team in the Amazon.

Dion Leonard and Gobi

I suggest you listen to Dion Leonard himself in this interview on WBUR radio in Boston.  There’s nothing like hearing the story first-hand!

(Dion Leonard is currently fundraising to adopt Gobi and bring her to Scotland to live with him.  I hope he reaches his goal.)

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

 

Will’s raffle

Will

I follow a number of greyhound sites on Facebook because Izzy is a greyhound and greyhound owners are well known for wanting to share photos of their hounds.

This year has been particularly hard on Will’s family.  Will was very ill and required surgery.  The vets couldn’t find anything that was causing the massive inflammation in Will’s chest and abdomen.  Lots of drugs and he still wasn’t getting better.  So more surgery and finally, they think they got the problem under control.

Will’s family stuck by him, but as you can imagine the vet bills were massive.  A call went out for raffle prizes to help them pay the bills (something they reluctantly agreed to) and I had to contribute.

Today I am sending this prize to the winner of the raffle.  It contains three bags of my preservative-free dog treats  – Cranberry & Coconut Biscotti, Apple, Cranberry & Ginger Biscotti and Salmon Squares – and a triple-headed toothbrush which is ideal for greyhounds (who are known to have lots of dental problems).

Will's raffle prize

As an independent business, I get lots of requests for support.  Some resonate more than others.  Will’s family weren’t going to give up on him without a fight and in this case, I think they made the right decision.  We are all hopeful that his inflammatory condition doesn’t return (it was thought to be a foreign body of some type, that has never revealed itself on scans, etc).

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

 

 

 

 

10 tips for first-time dog fosters

This post is full of useful information about fostering. Rescue groups always need people to foster – fostering increases the chances of an animal being adopted dramatically because they come with some basic life skills already taught to them and some idea of what it is like to live in a real home.

Doggerel

Before we adopted Eden, we fostered six German shepherds for a shepherd rescue in our region. Eden was our sixth foster, and we decided to keep her, that little terror. We haven’t fostered since Edie, but it was a great experience for us and especially for our shy dog, and I’d love to do it again.

Serving as a foster home for a dog is a wonderful gift both to the dog and to her future family. By welcoming this dog into your home and teaching her how to live peaceably with people, you are setting her up for a successful life and reducing her chances of getting returned to a shelter or rescue.

First morning with Brynn (Trina) Pyrrha with Trina, one of our foster puppies.

Here are 10 things I learned that I would want to share with any prospective foster parent.

1. Start slow. Make introductions to people and your pets with gentleness and…

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