Tag Archives: german shepherd

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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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

Haus the rescue dog returns the favour

The DeLuca family of Tampa, Florida are very happy they chose to adopt Haus, a German Shepherd two months ago.

Last week, Haus stepped in to keep their 7-year old daughter from being attacked by a rattlesnake, an Eastern Diamondback to be precise.

Haus

Haus suffered several snake bites and it was touch-and-go for a while when he was admitted to the local veterinary hospital and put on an anti-venom drip and given pain relief.

The family appealed for funds for his care and were amazed at how quickly the funds added up to over $50,000.  They then issued a statement “PLEASE — we feel we have plenty to care for Haus’ needs” and encouraged people to donate to other worthwhile charities – where the excess funds will also be donated.

At last report, Haus’ condition is improving.

And it makes me very glad that New Zealand is a land without snakes!

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

Odorology – the science behind training scent dogs

Dog training for scent tracking

Cisko, one of the police dogs, during a scent detection test. The dog sniffs the reference scent and then smells a series of five jars containing human scents, one of which corresponds to the reference. If the dog recognizes the reference scent it lies down in front of the relevant jar; if the dog does not find a match, then it does not stop or lie down. Credit: © DGPN – SICOP

Odorology is a technique that uses specially-trained dogs to identify human scent. It is used in police investigations to establish that an individual has been at the scene of a crime. However, there is no international norm on how these dogs are trained. At the Centre de recherche en neurosciences de Lyon (CNRS/Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1/Inserm), researchers specializing in scents and their memorization have analyzed data, provided since 2003 by the Division of the Technical and Scientific Police (DTSP, Ecully) on dog performances in scent identification tasks.

Their results show that, at the end of a 24-month training program, the dogs are able to recognize the smell of an individual in 80-90% of cases and never mistake it for that of another. These findings validate the procedures that are currently in use and should convince the international community of the reliability of this method.

Odorology, or the science of smells, is a method of identifying human scents. It has been used in France since 2003 in police investigations to establish that an individual has been present at a crime scene. The method is based on the fact that each person has their own scent and relies on the powerful canine sense of smell (which can be 200 to 10,000 times more sensitive than that of a human being1). It involves a long period of dog training.

This technique consists in using a specially-trained dog to compare a human scent collected from an object found at a crime scene with scents from several people, including that of a suspect or victim. As the results of these tests are of critical importance for investigators, they need to be obtained through viable and reproducible methods. However, there are no internationally recognized norms for the training of these dogs or for their inclusion in investigations—hence the occasional reluctance to treat their evidence as proof. By analyzing results collected since 2003 at the Division of the Technical and Scientific Police (DTSP, Ecully), researchers from the Centre de recherche en neurosciences de Lyon have succeeded in demonstrating the viability of the technique used.

During basic training, the German and Belgian shepherd police dogs must learn to make the link between two scents from the same individual through the completion of increasingly complex tasks. By the end of this training, the dogs are able to carry out identification exercises during which they sniff a reference human scent and then compare it with five different human odors, one of which is the reference scent. When a dog matches the scent in the jar to the reference one (which it shows by lying down in front of the correct jar) it is rewarded with a treat or a game. The human odors may consist of traces collected from an object that someone has touched or of a scent collected directly from a person.

The analysis of the data obtained with the 13 DTSP dogs since 2003 shows that after they have learned the task’s principles, 24 months of regular training is necessary for stable and optimal performances. At the end of the first twelve months, the dogs no longer made any recognition errors, i.e., they did not confuse the scent of one person with that of another. Furthermore, their olfactory sensitivity increased significantly over the training period: on average, after two years, the dogs managed to recognize two scents from the same person in 85% of cases. The remaining 15% of cases in which no match was obtained, were mostly the result of poor scent sampling rather than poor recognition.

The researchers also found that German shepherds were better than Belgian shepherds.

At the end of their basic training, the dogs are able to participate in criminal cases and receive continuing training throughout their lives. In practice, each identification test is carried out by at least two dogs. Additionally, each dog performs at least two tests with the same panel of scents: the collected scent is presented either as a sample to be sniffed at the start of the task, or in one of the jars that the dog sniffs successively. Between 2003 and 2016, odorology was used in 522 cases at the SDPTS and helped to resolve 162 cases.

In these criminal cases, the sampled scents were only a few hours or days old. The researchers now want to study how the dogs perform on older scents. Scent samples can in fact be stored in scent libraries over several years.

Animal therapy’s positive effects on college students

Animal-assisted therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety and loneliness among college students, according to researchers at Georgia State University, Idaho State University and Savannah College of Art and Design. Their findings are published in the latest issue of the Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.

German Shepherd Sophie is a trained assistance dog.  Photo courtesy of Georgia State University

German Shepherd Sophie is a trained assistance dog. Photo courtesy of Georgia State University

The researchers provided animal-assisted therapy to 55 students in a group setting at a small arts college in the southeastern United States.  They found a 60 percent decrease in self-reported anxiety and loneliness symptoms following animal-assisted therapy, in which a registered therapy dog was under the supervision of a licensed mental health practitioner.

Eighty-four percent of the participants reported their interaction with the therapy dog, Sophie, was the most significant part of the program.

The group sessions were held twice monthly during an academic quarter. Students were invited to stop by and interact with the therapy dog as long as they wished, up to two hours. They were allowed to pet, hug, feed, brush, draw, photograph, sit near and play fetch with the therapy dog.

Dr. Leslie Stewart of Idaho State, who led the study, began the research as a Ph.D. student at Georgia State. She collaborated with Drs. Franco Dispenza, Lindy Parker and Catherine Chang of Georgia State and Ms. Taffey Cunnien of Savannah College of Art and Design.

The prevalence of anxiety and loneliness on college campuses has increased, placing extra demands on college counseling centers. Budget strains have made it necessary for these centers to find creative ways to meet the needs of their students.

This study suggests animal-assisted therapy could be an effective way for college counseling centers to meet the growing demands of their students. It is one of the first to apply animal-assisted therapy in a group, college setting and use a systematic form of measurement.

“College counseling centers are also becoming more and more reflective of community mental health agencies,” Dispenza said. “That’s something that’s been noted in the field in probably the last 10 to 15 years. College counseling centers aren’t seeing students struggling with academics, which major to pick or how to study. They’re coming in with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, pervasive mood disorders and considerable contextual strains that are happening out in the world, such as poverty and experiences of homelessness, as well as a history of medical issues and family health issues.”

To become a registered therapy dog, the animal and handler must complete a series of evaluations and courses, which involve their grooming, temperament, previous training and relationship with their handler. Dogs can be ideal therapy animals because they have become so domesticated and the seeming ability to read cues between dogs and humans is probably the most pronounced. For instance, a dog can tell when a human is sad, Dispenza said.

“The presence of a therapy dog facilitates a therapeutic connection between the client and the mental health professional,” Parker said. “When you’re trying to do mental health work with someone, establishing that therapeutic relationship and rapport is so important. Any way to do it faster or more effectively only helps facilitate the therapeutic process.”

Source:  Georgia State University media release

The dog on the Hindenburg

HindenburgWhen the German airship Hindenburg exploded over Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6,1937, there was a single dog on board.

Joseph Späh, a German acrobatic performer, was bringing the German shepherd named Ulla to the United States as a surprise for his children.  Ulla was kept in a restricted freight area of the ship and she did not survive the fire.

German Shepherd

At one stage of the investigation into the disaster, Mr Späh was considered a possible saboteur because he had made trips into the restricted area on a regular basis (to feed Ulla).  These allegations were never proven.

 

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Wordless Wednesday, part 28

GSD with Buster CubeBP_Wordless_wed_Hop_Logo_2014