Here is the text of an email that was received yesterday morning.
Dear Fellow Dog Lover,
Because you signed up on our website, I’m sending you this recall update report. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of this message.
Over the past 60 days, the FDA has announced 2 dog food recalls:
Thogersen Family Farm recalled its raw frozen pet food due to contamination with Listeria bacteria (4/8/2019)
Hill’s Pet Nutrition recalled multiple lots of Prescription Diet and Science Diet wet dog foods due toxic levels of vitamin D(3/20/2019)
“Top from left: Mia, Pancake, Paxton,” Lentz said. “Bottom from left: Benji, Gizmo, Alex, Penny, Donny, Lula, Monroe and Rudy.”
Lentz added that seven of the depicted dogs are fosters waiting for homes, while “Gizmo, Donny, Monroe and Rudy are mine,” she said.
Even more remarkable, perhaps, is the fact that that perfect portrait is far from a one-time fluke.
“I have tons of these photos,” Lentz said.
Sometimes, Lentz even manages to join the pack for that perfect shot.
But how does she get such perfect family portraits — something that’s hard enough even for humans?
Lentz’s secret seems to have to do with the particular relationships she forms with the dogs. One can almost see the bond reflected in the way the dogs look at her as she’s snapping the photos.
“I literally just put them on the couch one by one and they situate themselves!” Lentz said. “I don’t use food [or] treats or anything. I just tell them to look at me.”
The pictures aren’t only adorable — they’re also pretty emotional, since they capture the fosters at a very important time in their lives — when they’re learning how to be comfortable in a home with the longer-term hopes that they’ll soon find forever homes of their own.
Thankfully, they’ve landed with this dog whisperer to help them on their journey.
Randy Etter and his dog Gemini have been together since Gemini was just a little puppy. It’s been around two years now, and the pair are the absolute best of friends. They love each other so much and brighten each other’s lives every single day — so when Etter found out he might lose Gemini, he vowed to do absolutely everything he could to save his life.
Gemini was playing with Etter’s girlfriend’s daughter one day four weeks ago, and the baby thought it was hilarious to continuously throw her bottle out of her playpen at Gemini. Gemini would pick it up every time and his dad would quickly grab it from him, wash it off, and give it back to the baby — but at some point, Gemini got ahold of the bottle without his dad realizing and ended up eating the top off of it.
No one had any idea that Gemini had swallowed something he wasn’t supposed to — until he started getting very, very sick.
“He just started to slow down and I didn’t think that was normal, just laying beside me and following me everywhere,” Etter told The Dodo. “I just felt like he was saying, ‘Help me.’”
When Gemini started vomiting uncontrollably, his dad knew something was very, very wrong, and immediately rushed him to the vet. Unfortunately, at first, no one could tell him for sure what was wrong with Gemini.
“I lost my job driving vet to vet to vet and it just seemed like I wasn’t gonna get anywhere or get him the help he needed in time,” Etter said. “It was truly one of the scariest things I had to deal with.”
Finally, a vet was able to confirm that Gemini had a blockage inside of him and would need surgery — which would cost $4,500, money that Etter definitely did not have. Losing Gemini was not an option, though, and so he decided to put his car up for sale to try and raise at least part of the money to save his best friend’s life.
“I was gonna spend every dollar made from the car sale on his surgery,” Etter said. “I would be devastated if I lost my best friend.”
Eventually, a friend was able to loan him $2,000, but it still wasn’t enough — until a local charity heard about his plight and decided to do everything they could to help Etter and Gemini.
The S.O.A.R Initiative (Street Outreach Animal Response) heard about what was happening to Etter and Gemini, and were able to raise nearly $3,000 in donations from total strangers who just wanted to help the best friend pair continue their life together. With all of the donated money, Gemini was able to have the surgery — and made it through with flying colors.
Gemini is now recovering well, safe in the arms of his dad and best friend. Etter is so grateful to everyone who helped him keep Gemini alive, and can’t imagine what he would have done without everyone’s support.
“It means the world to me,” Etter said. “He’s my best friend. He’s always there for me, I just wanted to be able to return the favor and be there for him.”
Randy puts it perfectly; “He’s my best friend. He’s always there for me, I just wanted to be able to return the favor and be there for him.”
Thousands upon thousands of people feel exactly the same way.
In Neolithic times there was an important relationship, as there is today. Maybe our dogs have become more of the ‘pet’ rather than the working dog that they are assumed to be then.
But here’s the article.
Thanks to Facial Reconstruction, You Can Now Look Into the Eyes of a Neolithic Dog
The collie-sized canine was buried in a cavernous tomb on Scotland’s Orkney Islands around 2,500 B.C.
Some 4,500 years ago, a collie-sized dog with pointed ears and a long snout comparable to that of the European grey wolf roamed Scotland’s Orkney Islands. A valued member of the local Neolithic community, the canine was eventually buried alongside 23 other dogs and at least eight humans in a cavernous tomb known as the Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn.
Now, 118 years after archaeologists first chanced upon its resting place, the prized pup’s image is being reimagined. As Esther Addley reports for the Guardian, experts believe the dog is the first canine to undergo forensic facial reconstruction. Its likeness, commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and the National Museum of Scotland, is set to go on view in Orkney later this year.
“Just as they’re treasured pets today, dogs clearly had an important place in Neolithic Orkney, as they were kept and trained as pets and guards and perhaps used by farmers to help tend sheep,” Steve Farrar, interpretation manager at HES, explains in a statement. “But the remains discovered at Cuween Hill suggest that dogs had a particularly special significance for the farmers who lived around and used the tomb about 4,500 years ago.”
It’s possible, Farrar adds, that the Neolithic group viewed dogs as their “symbol or totem,” perhaps even dubbing themselves the “dog people.”
Cuween Hill dates to around 3,000 B.C., Sky News reports, but radiocarbon dating places the dog’s actual interment some 500 years later. It remains unclear why the animal was buried so many centuries after the tomb’s creation, but archaeologists posit the timing may point toward the ceremony’s ritual value within the community. As HES observes, the fact that the Orkney residents placed canine remains alongside those of humans could also speak to their belief in an afterlife for both parties.
According to the Scotsman, forensic artist Amy Thornton drew on a CT scan to create a 3-D print of the animal’s skull. After layering clay approximations of muscle, skin and hair onto this base, she cast the model in silicone and added a fur coat designed to mimic that of the European grey wolf. Interestingly, Thornton notes, the process played out much as it would for a human facial reconstruction, although “there is much less existing data” detailing average tissue depth in canine versus human skulls.
The model is the latest in a series of technologically focused initiatives centered on Orkney’s Neolithic residents. Last year, HES published 3-D digital renderings of the chambered cairn on Sketchfab, enabling users to explore the tomb’s four side cells, tall central chamber and entrance passage. First discovered in 1888 but only fully excavated in 1901, the impressive stone structure held 24 canine skulls and the remains of at least eight humans.
In an interview with the Guardian’s Addley, Farrar explains that the reconstruction aims “to bring us closer to who [the dog’s owners] were and perhaps give a little hint of what they believed.”
“When you look at a Neolithic dog, it somehow communicates human relationships,” Farrar concludes. “… I can empathise with the people whose ingenuity made Orkney such an enormously important place. When this dog was around, north-west Europe looked to Orkney.”
“When you look at a Neolithic dog, it somehow communicates human relationships,” Farrar concludes.
Built between 3000 and 2400 BC, this is an excellent example of a Neolithic chambered tomb. It has four cells opening off a central chamber, which is accessed down a passage. Entrance into the tomb today is through the original passage.
Secondary burials at the Cuween Hill could reflect a continued reverence for the site. A recently discovered settlement nearby is probably contemporary with the cairn, and would likely have been connected.
Tomb of the dogs
Exploration at the tomb in 1901 found:
Remains of at least eight humans – five skulls on the floor of the chamber, one at the entrance and two in side cells
The skulls of 24 dogs on the chamber floor
The dog remains suggest the local tribe or family perhaps had a dog as their symbol or totem, or there may have been a belief in an afterlife for animals.
The tomb is completely unlit, which serves to both add to the atmosphere and discourage vandalism and graffiti. It also means the tomb is largely free of green algal growth.
The stonework at Cuween Hill is of particularly high quality. The roof of one of the cells is likely to be original, elsewhere the walls and corbelled roofs have survived to a considerable height.
And a particular credit must go to the dog’s nose. It is many more times more sensitive than our nose, as the following article taken from Mother Nature Network shows. (And I really must stop republishing articles from MNN!)
6 medical conditions that dogs can sniff out
From cancer to migraines and even seizures, dogs can give us a heads up about a range of human diseases.
Dogs are famous for their sense of smell. With about 220 million scent receptors (compared to our 5 million), dogs can smell things that seem unfathomable to us. They can detect some odors in parts per trillion, and they can detect countless subtleties in scents.
As PBS points out, “Experts have reported incredible true stories about the acuteness of dogs’ sense of smell. There’s the drug-sniffing dog that ‘found’ a plastic container packed with 35 pounds of marijuana submerged in gasoline within a gas tank. There’s the black lab stray from the streets of Seattle that can detect floating orca scat from up to a mile away across the choppy waters of Puget Sound.”
And yes, there are the dogs who have sniffed out medical issues that even doctors weren’t aware of. Dogs can pick up on tiny changes in the human body, from a tiny shift in our hormones to the release of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, released by cancer cells. Researchers and dog trainers are just beginning to understand how dogs do this and how we might put them to work in being our helpers in health care. Here are six medical conditions that dogs are able to smell.
Perhaps the condition dogs are currently most famous for detecting is cancer. Dogs have been able to sniff out a variety of types including skin cancer, breast cancer and bladder cancer.
There are quite a few stories of a pet dog obsessing about an owner’s mole or some part of their body, only to discover in a doctor’s appointment that the dog was actually sensing cancer. For example, Canada Free Press writes of a 1989 instance when a woman’s “dog kept sniffing at a mole on her thigh, but ignored other moles. In fact, the dog had actually tried to bite off the mole when she was wearing shorts. The woman consulted her doctor, the mole was excised and the diagnosis confirmed a malignant melanoma.”
In the last couple decades, researchers have looked seriously into dogs’ sniffing abilities when it comes to cancers. In studies, dogs have successfully been trained to detect the disease using samples from known cancer patients and people without cancer.
The newest study offers the most startling statistics: Dogs can correctly pick out blood samples from people who have cancer with 97% accuracy, a 2019 study published in Experimental Biology found. Heather Junqueira, the lead researcher at BioScentDx who performed the study, used clicker training with four beagles. The dogs focused their efforts on blood samples from patients with lung cancer, and with one exception, they were highly successful. The sample was small, so BioScentDx plans to continue its work, according to Science Daily.
In a 2006 study, five dogs were trained to detect cancer based on breath samples. Once trained, the dogs were able to detect breast cancer with 88 percent accuracy, and lung cancer with 99 percent accuracy. They could do this across all four stages of the diseases.
Sometimes the dogs can do an even better job than the humans in these studies. According to Penn State News, Nancy Dreschel, a veterinarian in Dairy and Animal Science at Penn State University, tells of an illuminating example: “A scientist was training dogs to detect bladder cancer in humans by smelling their urine. She said a dog alerted them to a sample from a supposedly healthy person who was being used as a control. On reexamination that person was found to have bladder cancer, so the dog caught it before anyone else did.”
Study after study has shown that dogs can detect cancer in people, but it may a while before your doctor employs a hound for your annual checkup. Researchers still don’t know exactly what chemical compounds for different types of cancers the dogs are sensing in these samples to alert to the presence of the disease, and this remains a hurdle both for better training of cancer-sniffing dogs and for creating machines that can more accurately detect cancer in the early stages.
Narcolepsy is a brain disorder that affects the ability to control sleep-wake cycles. This can mean a person suddenly falls asleep, even in the middle of a task. It’s a dangerous condition, as someone who has an attack could be injured falling to the ground or could have a car accident if it happens while driving.
Mary McNeight, Service Dog Academy director of training and behavior, has been working with narcolepsy service dogs since 2010, and she notes that there’s a scent the dogs pick up on when an attack is coming on. “It’s a biochemical change in the body. We do not know what the particular odor smells like due to the difference between human scent perception and dog scent perception,” she tells Sleep Review.
In a study published in 2013, Luis Dominguez-Ortega, M.D., Ph.D., found that two trained dogs detected 11 of 12 narcolepsy patients using sweat samples, demonstrating that dogs can detect a distinct scent for the disorder.
Service dogs help people with narcolepsy by performing several different types of tasks. They can stand over the person’s lap when an attack comes on, which prevents them from sliding out of a chair onto the floor; they can also stand over the person to protect them if they are out in public, or they can go get help. And most importantly, they can provide a warning up to 5 minutes before an attack comes on, giving their handler a chance to get to a safe place or a safe position.
While large dogs can be helpful in giving a narcoleptic sufferer extra support in balance and mobility after an attack, these dogs don’t have to be big. According to Petful, even medium-sized dogs can do the job. “Theo, a 2-year-old cocker spaniel, has virtually put an end to [Kelly] Sears’ suffering. He can sense when she is about to have a narcoleptic episode and warn her so that she can sit or lie down, waking her after a few seconds with a kiss on her chin. Since arriving two months ago from Medical Detection Dogs, the only organization in Europe that trains narcolepsy service dogs, Theo has proven himself indispensable.”
For those who suffer migraines, having a warning before one comes on can mean the difference between managing the problem or succumbing to hours or days of intense pain. Fortunately, some dogs have a talent for sniffing out the signs that a migraine is on the way.
Psychology Today reports on a recent study that asked migraine sufferers with dogs if they noticed a change in their dogs’ behavior before or during a migraine. The results show that “54 percent of the 1027 participants indicated they had noticed changes in the behavior of their pets during or preceding migraines. Nearly 60 percent of these subjects indicated that their dog had alerted them to the onset of a headache — usually an hour or two in advance.” The results are fascinating, though it’s important to point out that the study was conducted with self-reports rather than observation by researchers. Even so, the study shows evidence that many dogs seem to detect and point out a change in their human companion’s health.
According to Kendall Winship, a migraine sufferer with a service dog, “These [migraine alert service] dogs are highly valued because the ability to tell when a migraine is approaching is an innate talent; it can’t be taught. Similar to diabetic alert dogs that can smell when their handler has low blood sugar, migraine alert dogs can hone in on the scent of serotonin, a chemical that skyrockets when the body is about to have a migraine. By alerting to the danger long before their handlers might feel any symptoms, these dogs can warn them to take preventative medication. When Rally looks up at me and whines, I know I have about two hours before the migraine will strike, and if I can take my medication early enough, I might be able to avoid the stroke-like symptoms and incapacitating pain.”
Low blood sugar
Increasingly, dogs are helping diabetics know when their blood sugar level is dropping or spiking. Dogs4Diabetics is one organization that trains and places service dogs with insulin-dependent diabetics. These dogs undergo extensive training to be able to detect and alert their handlers to changes in blood sugar levels.
A 2016 study published in the journal Diabetes Care found that the dogs detect isoprene, a common natural chemical found in human breath that rises significantly during episode of low blood sugar. People can’t detect the chemical, but the researchers believe that the dogs are particularly sensitive to it and can tell when their owner’s breath has high levels of it.
Medical News Today reports that dogs are trained to discriminate between the scent from a previous episode and the scent of a current episode. They detect when their handler is having an issue and alert the person, giving them time to test their blood sugar and take the insulin they need.
A 2013 study published in PLOS One showed that having a diabetic alert dog seems to provide significant improvements in both the safety and quality of life of insulin-dependent diabetics. “Since obtaining their dog, all 17 clients studied reported positive effects including reduced paramedic call outs, decreased unconscious episodes and improved independence.”
There’s still some skepticism about whether or not dogs can accurately alert handlers to a blood sugar change at a level beyond chance, something that can be determined with more studies. Even so, for those diabetics living with alert dogs, the sniffing ability of their companions seems to be a big help.
One of the more controversial areas where dogs are used to alert to a medical condition is with seizures. There is growing evidence that dogs can and do detect the onset of a seizure; however, the level of accuracy and, most importantly, our ability to train dogs to alert a handler to an oncoming seizure remains a bit questionable.
As is the case with some other conditions, dogs cannot be trained to predict seizures. We don’t have a way to provide them with a scent or information that can be used for training. We can, however, train dogs how to respond to and assist a handler when a seizure occurs. Some service dogs that are placed with seizure patients do develop the ability to detect when a seizure is coming and can provide an alert if the handler pays close attention to the signals the dog provides. WebMD reports, “Jennifer Arnold, founder of Canine Assistants in Georgia, … says about nine out of 10 of the service dogs her organization has placed develop the ability on their own within a year of placement.”
A small 2019 study found that dogs were able to clearly discriminate a general epileptic “seizure odor.” However the study only involved a handful of dogs and involved odor samples that were collected during a seizure. Researchers pointed out that much more extensive testing would need to be done to see if other dogs would respond similarly and if dogs could predict seizures before they happened.
However, there is some question about how dogs are responding. How Stuff Workspoints out that in 2007, “two small studies in the journal Neurology reported that four out of seven seizure alert dogs studied turned out to be warning their masters of psychological, rather than epileptic seizures. This may not seem like a big deal, but the two disorders are different. A 2006 study revealed that up to 30 percent of patients who suffer from psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are misdiagnosed with epilepsy. PNES, which results from emotional difficulties and can often be successfully treated with counseling, rather than unnecessary and harsh epilepsy drugs. The 2007 study also revealed one instance of seizures being triggered by the patient’s dog’s warning behaviors, indicating another flaw in the reliability of canine seizure prediction.”
A 2003 study concluded that “findings suggest some dogs have innate ability to alert and/or respond to seizures” however, it notes that further research is needed to uncover which seizure patients would benefit from the help of a dog. We also need more research to learn how to train dogs to be as effective as possible. We have to first learn how dogs know when a seizure is coming — are they smelling a change in body chemistry, or are they picking up on behavior changes? — before we can reliably train them to alert handlers before a seizure happens.
Fear and stress
The age-old notion that dogs can smell fear is an accurate one. Dogs can smell when we are feeling fear or are experiencing an increased level of stress, even if we aren’t showing outward signs. What dogs are smelling is the surge of hormones our bodies release to respond to stressful situations, including adrenalin and cortisol.
Thankfully, this can be used to humans’ benefit, as dogs can signal a handler that they (or someone else) needs to take a few deep breaths. Dogs that alert handlers of the change in their emotional state — a change that often people aren’t even aware they’re experiencing — can help prevent panic attacks and other possible episodes associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or other issues.
“This 18-month Rhodesian ridgeback is the first cortisol-sniffing dog on staff at a school. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone,’ and people on the autism spectrum tend to have higher levels of cortisol in their blood. Cali is employed to detect rising cortisol levels in the students. She waits outside of school each morning as the students file by. If she notices anyone with a high level of cortisol in their blood, she will signal to her handler, Casey Butler, a health teacher on staff at The Calais School who is a certified specialist in natural canine behavior rehabilitation and in animal adaptive therapy. When Cali stares at a child, Butler knows that is the signal. She then takes that child aside and works with him or her before a meltdown occurs.”
We still have a long way to go to discover exactly what dogs are smelling about us, let alone how we can train them to be as accurate as possible about a change in our bodies. Even though many details are not yet known, it’s clear that dogs have an uncanny ability to sniff out certain medical issues, and that’s a skill that could be a real lifesaver.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016 and has been updated with new information.
Back to the delight of blogging with this republished post.
I’m having to be much more concerned about copyright, for obvious reasons. I am only going to republished items that I know to be free circulation or that I have specifically asked if is OK.
So I’m delighted to offer this post, and can confirm that it is republished with the kind permission of the author. Thank you!
A girl, 2 dogs and a quest for SNOW in Southern California.
March 14th, 2019
For the past 9 years, I have wanted nothing more than to take Beowolf to the snow. He’s a Wolfdog for crying out loud, the snow is where he thrives! Over the years as every opportunity that arisen to take Beowolf up to the snow something always came up. Car trouble, work obligation, lack of money, etc. Not to mention driving up to the snow alone is not ideal, I never felt like risking it, the Jeep although durable was no young buck and the heat was out! So I often tried to rely on friends, who all pretty much had the same excuses as me.
For the past 4 years since moving back down to SoCal, and living in view of mountains, I haven’t wanted to take a trip to the snow so badly! Every winter after a good rain at home, the next morning I look out my windshield on my way to work and can see the beautiful snow-capped mountains that surrounded my valley. I kept planning trips to go but again the same old excuses, on repeat.
As of recent (6 months or so) I have adopted a new attitude… a F*** It attitude, no longer being too cautious to say or do something and that includes solo adventure trips. After all, the one thing I envy is travel and getting out of the everyday scene. Coming from someone who moves on faster than a butterfly migration, since childhood, staying in one place too long gives me an itch only I can scratch. I soon realized I can no longer rely on someone else to take me on an adventure. So I threw away the excuses and said, F*** it, pack your boots Beowolf and Valentine we’re going to the snow!
The first trip: Mountain High Resort, Wrightwood, CA.
I heard of this place from a co-worker and when I asked around I got pretty good feedback. It’s only 38 miles from where I live, and GPS said it was a 1.5-hour drive. DEAL! A friend was even going with me, so it was gonna be a great day trip! I rush ordered a jacket for Valentine and gathered up all my snow gear and awaited the weekend, I have a new (to me) Rav4 and just got a fresh oil change with a full tank so I felt good about the drive.
Saturday morning arrives and I jump out of bed blasting music as I get showered and ready for the day, hinting to Beowolf about what awaits him! Just as I finish my makeup and load everything into the Rav4, my phone dings. It’s my friend giving me the same excuse she always gives me but in the end, she cancels. The old me would be pissed, the old me would cancel the day and try and salvage doing something here, but that was the old me. The new me already knew my friend was going to flake because it was her habit, so I told myself no matter what I was making that drive. I text a few family members where I was going and loaded the dogs up. I stopped for snacks and then we were on our way, Mountain High here we come!
The first leg was mostly the 14 North going along Palmdale and it was a drive I made many times before, so I was used to it. Then it took me up toward Devil’s Punch Bowl, another place I’ve taken the dogs a few times. Then it took me down a new road, which after the recent rains it was flooded and so I got detoured only to find out that was Private Property. So I speed off hoping to force GPS to link me to one of the alternate routes I saw earlier, of course, it works.
So I’m back on track, the Rav4 is feeling good, I’m excellent on gas and my music is on MAX! The rest of the drive was not only fun at some points, but beautiful, the dry desert suddenly became green lush mountains. The redwoods grew brighter the deeper we drove, it was breathtaking. As we entered the tourist housing section I rolled down the windows letting the crisp air in and the dogs stuck their heads out, Beowolf is so excited he can’t decide where to look. He’s used to hikes and trips, but he doesn’t really know what I have in store for him.
I pass through the small town and head into the mountain, as I start seeing large areas of snow we start easing into traffic. Blah. But you know what I didn’t care about it; the dogs were happy with their heads out the window, my tank is still almost full and I had my music on so I was fine. Eventually, we crawled by the resort that was packed and so it was time to find a parking spot further up the mountain. I drive maybe a mile from the resort and find a secluded area with loads of space to park and play, so I pull in and park it.
As I finish getting ready like 5 cars pull in behind me, really? Just as I was about to pull out the dogs and let them run, but no, so I leash them up and get them out. Beowolf doesn’t even know what to do! He’s so excited and poor Valentine is like whoa WTF. With nowhere for them to play safely, we must walk back down where the designated area is, the walk to the park was no picnic at all. Beowolf pulled as much as he could and Valentine pulled in the opposite way, I decided against putting on their pinchers, they had been doing so good with training I didn’t think I needed them. Big mistake, I hadn’t had to walk in the snow for years and the edge of the road was so crowded with people. I already had too much to carry and thanks to Beowolf I had a big bag of doo-doo dangling from me as well, I eventually led us along the crest of the hill where I can relax and give Beowolf some slack, I could finally walk and eventually fell into a groove.
When we got to the area to play there was a nice big space where nobody was, so I decided that was the perfect place to let the dogs off leash, well not Valentine.
She was not having a good time at all, she was shivering despite the coat and I never factored in the way people would look to her in their big coats, not to mention the snow was deep and it was hard for her to move so she felt trapped. I kept her with me by my side while Beowolf ran around and sniffed and played.
He was so happy and so was I, it was so fulfilling getting over my own anxieties going places alone and driving in the snow to reach that place. Beowolf is already a sight when he runs loose, but against the beautiful backdrop, it made my heart so warm! I decided, in the end, it was worth going alone and I was going to take them out more. The walk back to the car was so much better, I decided to walk in the street, there was little traffic and my dogs have the training to heel alongside me so when a car came we just moved over and waited for them to pass. Took us 5 minutes to get back to the car.
Upon our arrival, every car that was parked around us before was gone! So I put Valentine away and let Beowolf run some more. Then we packed in the car and headed down the mountain, stopping once more to take some more pictures.
The drive home was even more spectacular. A very winding road leads Big Pine down the mountain which gives you captivating views with each turn, I don’t know about you, but I always loved driving and wanted to be a stunt driver for commercials. I felt like I was in a Rav4 commercial, listening to soothing music driving down the mountain and at sunset no less! All in all, it was a great day, I would totally go up for more trips, I saw more isolated areas that would be great places to stop next time too! I got amazing photos and Beowolf got to finally experience snow! We made it home at 5pm.
Overall I would rate my experience a 4.5/5.
This author is relatively new to the game but if she continues like this then she will soon have plenty of followers.
Meantime, I’m thinking of how to feature a Picture Parade for Sunday!
Dog owners spend US$240 a month caring for their pets, compared with $193 for cats, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association. The extra money goes primarily toward vet visits and kennel boarding, but dog owners also spend more lavishly on treats, grooming and toys.
And almost half of households own a dog, while just 38 percent have a cat. Generational trends suggest this divergence is likely to grow, as millennials are more likely to adopt a canine, while baby boomers tend to be cat lovers.
One reason suggested was that dog owners had stronger bonds to their pets, which prompted them to spend more on things like veterinary care.
My research uncovered a key factor indicating why dog owners feel more attached to their pets: Dogs are famously more compliant than cats. When owners feel in control of their pets, strong feelings of psychological ownership and emotional attachment develop. And pet owners want to be masters – not servants.
Like other marketing researchers, my work uses “willingness to pay” as an indicator of the economic, rather than emotional, value owners place on their pets. It shows – and compares – how much pet owners would pay to save their animal’s life.
Who’s in control?
So I carried out three online experiments to explore the role of psychological ownership in these valuations.
In the first experiment, I asked dog or cat owners to write about their pet’s behavior so I could measure their feelings of control and psychological ownership. Participants then imagined their pet became ill and indicated the most they would be willing to pay for a life-saving surgery.
Dog owners, on average, said they would pay $10,689 to save the life of their pet, whereas cat owners offered less than half that. At the same time, dog owners tended to perceive more control and psychological ownership over their pets, suggesting this might be the reason for the difference in spending.
Of course, correlation is not causation. So in a second experiment, I asked participants how much they would be willing to pay to save their animal’s life after I had disturbed their sense of ownership. I did this by asking participants to imagine their pet’s behavior was a result of training it received from a previous owner.
As expected, disrupting their feelings of ownership eliminated the difference in valuation between dogs and cats.
Since pet owners like to control their animals, and since cats are less controllable than dogs, the third experiment went straight to the point: Does the owner value the dog or cat for its own sake or for its compliant behavior?
To find out, I again asked survey respondents to describe how much they’d be willing to pay to save their pet’s life, but this time I randomly assigned one of four scenarios: Participants were told they either own a dog, a cat, a dog that behaves like a cat, or a cat that behaves like a dog.
Participants reported they would pay $4,270 to save the life of their dog, but only $2,462 for their cat. However, this pattern was reversed when the pet’s behavior changed, with dog-behaving cats valued at $3,636, but cat-behaving dogs only $2,372.
These results clearly show that the animal’s behavior is what makes people willing to pay.
Master or servant
These findings establish that psychological ownership is a driving factor in dog owners’ higher valuations.
People feel ownership because they perceive that they can control their pets’ behavior. This research even distinguishes the type of control that probably most stimulates ownership feelings: It’s not just physical control, such as being able to pick up an animal or drag it by a leash. Rather, it’s the animal’s voluntary compliance with its owner’s wishes.
No matter how cute and cuddly your kitties may be, they can’t compete with dogs when it comes to giving pet owners the sense of mastery they seek.
I really should have written having a pet in your life because the following story is about cats and dogs. Plus, it’s been copied from The Guardian Newspaper so I fully expect that it will be taken down fairly soon.
But here goes!
Sometimes a dog can be better for a patient than hospital
Suffering patients may need to just be asked ‘tell me about your pet’
‘I wonder how often doctors are cognisant of the silent distress of patients who are separated from their pets?’
An elderly patient is admitted to hospital after a fall at home. He is stunned after the fall but, thankfully, uninjured. It takes him a few days to recover but as soon as he is able, he wants to go home. The physiotherapist wants to work with him, the social worker wants to examine his support system, but all he wants to do is go home. We feel he is not yet safe. He acknowledges that a worse event could happen but still, he wants to go home. Theories are posited as to why.
Maybe the concussion is worse than we first thought. Maybe he is cognitively impaired and unable to make decisions about his safety, in which case a state-appointed guardian may be needed. Maybe he doesn’t like the other patients, in which case he could be placated by moving him to another room. It is the beginning of a month of medical rounds for me and he is the handover without a plan.
He is sitting out of bed, dressed and sipping his tea. He looks up at a new face with interest.
“I am the specialist taking over your care,” I say.
“Look, love, please just let me go home. I’m begging you.”
Something about his desperation moves me and I am struck by the imbalance of power between me and my patient twice my age.
“I really want to, but help me understand why you’re so eager.”
I expect to hear about the incessant noise in the hospital, the bad food or the lack of clear communication but instead, to my complete surprise, tears start rolling down his face.
“It’s my cat. I want to see my cat.”
The cat is a link to the years he shared with his late wife. Now it snoozes in his wife’s chair and responds to his reminiscences, as if to say it knows he is hurting. In the twilight of his life, when his children are too busy to visit and the residents in his retirement village keep falling sick, his cat is the constant in his life.
“You can’t fix an old man,” he pleads. “But send me back to my cat.”
“I am going to do just that,” I say.
Outside, his story touches a nerve. People band together, set up community services and get him home quickly. In the end, he turns out to be a simple discharge. Reuniting an old man with his cat turns out to be the best medicine, which leaves me wondering how often doctors are cognisant of the silent distress of patients who are separated from their pets. Not often, I suspect.
The very next week, the distress of another patient announces itself loudly and heartbreakingly. She is 50, her dog was 18. She was divorced and lonely. He was old and slow. When her work turned her out and her friends moved on, the dog proved her anchor.
Amid all the shifting circumstances of her life, he never stopped loving her and greeting her with delight every morning. He needed nothing more than a walk and a few biscuits to send him into raptures of delight. Suddenly he fell very ill and the vet suggested the kindest thing to do was to let him go. So she did. Then she came home and took an overdose. How could she face life without her dog?
The postman spotted her through the window and called an ambulance. She was successfully resuscitated and now she is on the medical ward, awaiting psychiatric intervention. When I meet her she is pleasant and remorseful, particularly for being a burden on the overstretched mental-healthcare system.
A psych consult won’t help her, she pleads, another dog will. In fact, she has found just the right one and even thought of a name. She just hopes it won’t be gone before she is cleared. I tell her that all my sympathies still won’t add up to a hasty discharge because she really does need to see the psychiatrist. She begins to sob.
I have an insightful resident with me.
“Tell me about your dog,” she asks brightly. “I love dogs.”
The patient pulls out a photo from under her pillow.
“He is so happy,” I remark as I start jotting some notes.
“He was all I had. I went months without talking to people.”
Her loneliness will need attention but that’s a topic for another day, easy to identify but difficult to fix.
“What was his favourite thing to do?” the resident smiles, leaning forward.
“He loved to walk, even as an old thing.”
We go back and forth, the standard questions about headache, pain and immobility replaced by an interest in a departed dog that was the life of his owner.
It feels intuitively right but somehow misplaced, as if we are breaking some established protocol that says we should be asking about the number of pills she took and whether there was alcohol involved and what she would do if her new dog got sick. We should be checking her vitals, ensuring her bloods are fine, that the drug screen is clear. And watching our every word in case something inopportune brings her grief crashing back and we are to blame.
Except, in that moment, it is clear that while the medical questions have merit, the most important thing for this patient at this time is to cast them all aside and create a common understanding to make her feel less lonely in her experience. I count 10 minutes spent at her bedside. In those 10 minutes, we watch her mood lift and fresh hope enter her tone. There are people who love dogs, she thinks. There are people who understand my grief. Why, they are even interested in my old dog.
Our time is limited, and we must move on apologetically. With dry eyes and genuine gratitude, she says, “Thank you for asking about my dog. It’s the nicest thing anyone has done.”
Really? Could it be this simple?
Amid the trappings of modern medicine, it’s hard to believe that the inexpensive 10 minutes spent at her bedside might have proved to be the most useful and cathartic treatment of all. All her tests turned out fine. A day later, she is deemed safe for discharge and is overjoyed at the reprieve.
The next time we meet an upset patient, I suspect we will be tempted to ask the same question as always, “What’s the problem?”
But with a better history and a little luck, these experiences will shape a more nuanced approach to the suffering of patients. For many of them, the best question may be a request. “Tell me about your pet.”
It’s both a beautiful story and a powerful one. It explains how for many people having a pet in their lives is more than a nice thing, it’s the reason for living.
Thank you Margaret for sending me the link to this news item.