Category: People and their pets

Every dog should have a child!

A really delightful video.

Jess and Cheryl Anderson have a blog that I subscribe to. Two days ago I received this:

This made both of us smile…BIGTIME!  I’ve had a dog almost all of my life.  They’ve been my best friends!  Maybe some of this will explain!   JESS

Just feast your eyes (and your heart)!

We have said it many times before but we say it again; dogs are the most perfect of animals. To watch this video is to show that dogs read us humans, especially at a young age, with love and compassion, and fun!

(7am on the 25th) And I should have added Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans!

Picture Parade Four Hundred and Eleven

The last of the dog photographs from David Bozsik.

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That is it, I am afraid. They have been a beautiful set of photographs and we have to thank David Bozsik for them.

I near forgot to mention that, again, these fabulous photographs are Copyright David L Bozsic. I have been given permission by David to republish them.

Science on the business of loving our dogs (and cats).

A fascinating article!

I have long subscribed to The Conversation and shared quite a few stories with you good people. But this recent one was a terrific report.

Read it yourself and I am sure you will agree with me.

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New research suggests cat and dog ‘moms’ and ‘dads’ really are parenting their pets – here’s the evolutionary explanation why.

Pet parenting can provide love and companionship to both human and animal. Willie B. Thomas/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Shelly Volsche, Boise State University

old pug dog in a stroller and harness
A pup out for a stroll, without paws touching the ground. Shelly Volsche, CC BY-ND

Have you noticed more cats riding in strollers lately? Or bumper stickers that read, “I love my granddogs”? You’re not imagining it. More people are investing serious time, money and attention in their pets.

It looks an awful lot like parenting, but of pets, not people.

Can this kind of caregiving toward animals really be considered parenting? Or is something else going on here?

I’m an anthropologist who studies human-animal interactions, a field known as anthrozoology. I want to better understand the behavior of pet parenting by people from the perspective of evolutionary science. After all, cultural norms and evolutionary biology both suggest people should focus on raising their own children, not animals of a completely different species.

More child-free people, more pet parents

The current moment is unique in human history. Many societies, including the U.S., are experiencing major changes in how people live, work and socialize. Fertility rates are low, and people have more flexibility in how they choose to live their lives. These factors can lead people to further their education and value defining oneself as an individual over family obligations. With basics taken care of, people can focus on higher order psychological needs like feelings of achievement and a sense of purpose.

The scene is set for people to actively choose to focus on pets instead of children.

In earlier research, I interviewed 28 self-identified child-free pet owners to better understand how they relate to their animals. These individuals pointedly shared that they had actively chosen cats and dogs instead of children. In many cases, their use of parent-child relational terms – calling themselves a pet’s “mom” for instance – was simply shorthand.

They emphasized fulfilling the species-specific needs of their dogs and cats. For example, they might fulfill the animal’s need to forage by feeding meals using a food puzzle, while most children are fed at the table. These pet owners acknowledged differences in the nutrition, socialization and learning needs of animals versus children. They were not unthinkingly replacing human children with “fur babies” by treating them like small, furry humans.

woman with party hat with dog
Pet parents might celebrate their dog’s big day – but with a doggy treat and not chocolate cake. fotostorm/E+ via Getty Images

Other researchers find similar connections, showing that child-free pet owners perceive their companions as emotional, thinking individuals. This way of understanding the mind of the animal helps lead to the development of a parent identity toward companion animals. In other cases, uncertain individuals find their need to nurture sufficiently fulfilled by caring for pets, cementing their fertility decisions to remain child-free.

Nurturing others is part of being human

Yet, these findings still do not answer this question: Are people who choose pets over children truly parenting their pets? To answer, I turned to the evolution of parenting and caregiving.

Evolutionary anthropologist Sarah Hardy wrote in 2009 that humans are cooperative breeders. This means it is literally in our DNA and our ancestral history to help care for offspring who are not our own. Anthropologists and biologists call this trait alloparenting. It is an evolutionary adaptation that helped human beings who cooperatively raised children survive. For early humans, this ancient environment was likely made up of small, foraging societies in which some people exchanged child care for food and other resources.

I propose that it is this evolutionary history that explains pet parenting. If people evolved to alloparent, and our environment is now making caring for children more difficult or less appealing to some, it makes sense for people to alloparent other species entering their homes. Alloparenting companion animals can offer a way to fulfill the evolved need to nurture while reducing the investment of time, money and emotional energy compared to raising children.

two kids and dog bathing in tub
Do people relate to animals differently in families with children? Mayte Torres/Moment via Getty Images

Untangling differences in caring for pets

To further understand this phenomenon of child-free adults parenting pets, I launched an online survey via social media, seeking responses from U.S.-based dog and cat owners over the age of 18. The survey included questions about attachment and caregiving behaviors using the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale. It also asked a series of questions I developed to probe specific human caretaking behaviors oriented toward pets – things like feeding, bathing and training – as well as how much autonomy companion animals had in the home.

The final sample of 917 respondents included 620 parents, 254 nonparents and 43 people who were undecided or did not answer. Most of the respondents were also married or in a domestic partnership for over one year (57%), between the ages of 25 and 60 (72%) and had at least a bachelor’s degree (77%). They were also mostly women (85%) and heterosexual (85%), a common situation in human-animal interactions research.

Both parents and nonparents reported high amounts of training and play with their pets. This finding makes sense given that all pet owners need to help their dogs and cats learn how to navigate a human world. Survey respondents reported socializing, training and enrichment, including play, for their animals.

Nonparents were more likely to be the one providing general care for the animal. This finding also makes sense since parents often adopt or purchase companion animals as a way to help their children learn responsibility and to care for others. Child-free animal owners invest time, money and emotional energy directly in their pets.

Nonparents reported higher rates of general attachment to their animals. They more frequently viewed their pets as individuals. Nonparents were also more likely to use family terms such as “parent,” “child,” “kids” and “guardians” when referring to their relationships with their pet.

woman on couch petting cat
Caring for another being can be fulfilling and rewarding. Delmaine Donson/E+ via Getty Images

It is this difference, combined with the evidence from my earlier research that these individuals address the species-specific needs of the dogs and cats in their care, that suggests pet parenting is, truly, parenting pets. Though the details may look quite different – attending training classes instead of school functions, or providing smell walks for dogs instead of coloring books for children – both practices fulfill the same evolved function. Whether child or pet, people are meeting the same evolved need to care for, teach and love a sentient other.

My colleagues and I continue to collect data from all over the world about how people live with animals. For now, this study provides evidence that, perhaps rather than being evolved to parent, humans are evolved to nurture. And as a result, who and when we parent is much more flexible than you might initially believe.

[Get our best science, health and technology stories. Sign up for The Conversation’s science newsletter.]

Shelly Volsche, Clinical Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Boise State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Shelly does a fabulous job of looking more closely at the science and it is a science that has a very wide appeal. For in the UK, according to the RSPCA, “In the UK, it’s estimated that 12 million (44 percent of) households have pets with around 51 million pets owned.

Here in America The Washington Post reported that: “Google the U.S. pet population, and you’re quickly confronted with two oft-cited, and contradictory, sources. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) found that 68 percent of U.S. households owned some sort of pet in 2016 — “equal to the highest level ever reported,” it gushed in the executive summary. Among those pets were about 90 million dogs and 94 million cats, the group said.

That is just two countries. The worldwide population of dogs and cats must be gigantic.

Yet another story about a dog!

Keep them coming I say.

We had a break from the rain yesterday and I went for a bike ride in the morning and then in the afternoon it was a case of going to the recycling depot. All pretty humdrum stuff but nevertheless what our life, in the main, is made up of plus the many other things that we have to do, indeed enjoy doing, with our six dogs, two horses and thirteen acres in rural Southern Oregon.

So I got to my iMac pretty late on in the day and found a delightful article about a dog who has a fascination with a commercial laundromat.

Read it for yourself.

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Dog Who Works At Laundromat Can’t Stop Taking Naps On All The Machines

“He figured out a way to climb from the chair to the smaller washers and then to the bigger ones.”

By Lily Feinn, Published on the 11th October, 2021

If you walk into Larkin Street Laundry around closing time, you might get an extra-special greeting.

Every night, an 8-year-old golden retriever named Cody helps his dad close up the laundromat. Cody takes his job very seriously: While his dad cleans and puts everything away, Cody takes a nap on top of the washing machines.

INSTAGRAM/CODYTHERETRIEVER

Luckily, his dad doesn’t mind that Cody isn’t the best worker.

“My dad owns the laundromat and has always taken our dogs there with him when he closes up at the end of the day,” Stephanie, Cody’s sister who asked that her last name not be used, told The Dodo. “Our old dog loved to sit in the chairs to watch customers and people pass by, but Cody is more nimble than him.”

“After we tried to get him to just sit on the chairs, he figured out a way to climb from the chair to the smaller washers and then to the bigger ones,” she added. “He’s a little lazier than our old dog, so he’d rather lay down and wait for pets and treats.”

Instagram/Reichenyoo

Cody has become the main attraction at the laundromat, providing the perfect distraction for customers waiting for their clothes to finish drying.

This arrangement works out for the independent Cody, who loves attention but prefers people come to him. “His motto has always been: ‘I do what I want,’” Stephanie said.

INSTAGRAM/CODYTHERETRIEVER

And from his high-up vantage point, Cody can keep watch on everything going on at the laundromat.

“I think he likes how he can see everyone at eye level when he’s on top of the washers,” Stephanie said. “He’s also kinda snobby for a dog, so I have a theory he likes to feel like a king up there.”

INSTAGRAM/CODYTHERETRIEVER

After years of laundromat service, Cody has become a local celebrity — and even the subject of a few memes. But the good boy doesn’t let fame distract him. After all, he has a job to do, and those washers aren’t going to sit on themselves.

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That Larkin Street Laundromat is at Nob Hill in San Francisco. I looked it up by clicking on the link in the text.

It is just fascinating what dogs will do. They have a will of their own and yet they seem to be happiest when in the company of people.

Wonderful creatures!

Picture Parade Four Hundred and Nine

Something very different for today!

I usually browse the photographic website Ugly Hedgehog a few times each week and recently I was admiring the photography of a David Bozsik. He is a professional photographer and a great deal of his fabulous work may be seen on Nature Photography.

Anyway, David was kindly helping me with a question regarding photographic tripods and he expressed interest in Learning from Dogs. That resulted in David sending me some wonderful images of dogs. They are presented today.

Please note that all the photographs are Copyright David L. Bozsik. Please do not copy them. David has given me written permission to republish them.

But please do enjoy these fabulous photos.

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They are gorgeous! But they are also fabulous photographs from all points of view!

I feel very honoured to share them with you all.

Finally, one of my own photos.

Dear, sweet Oliver.

Let the train take the strain!

A Turkish dog travels frequently by train!

Time and time again dogs do things which cause me to wonder about the way that dogs think and behave. One would think that with so many dogs here at home my days of wondering would be over but the truth is that the more I stay engaged with dog blogs, such as The Dodo, the more I realise that I am only skimming the surface of dogs.

That is my introduction to this post about a Turkish dog.

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Stray Dog Takes The Train All By Himself Every Day

He knows where to go and has a purpose.

By Lily Feinn, Published on the 8th October, 2021.

Meet Boji — a stray dog who’s bringing joy to commuters every day.

A few months ago, Istanbul’s public transportation department noticed a large, brown dog riding the buses, trams, subways and ferries. The dog, whom they dubbed Boji, seems to know exactly where he’s going any time he steps on or off the train.

INSTAGRAM/BOJI_IST

“Two months ago, we noticed a dog trying to use our trams, metros and our trains and he knows where to go and he knows where to get out,” Aylin Erol, head of customer relations at Metro Istanbul, told CNN. “It was quite interesting and we have started to follow him. And it was really an interesting pattern. It’s something like that he knows where to go and has a purpose.”

In mid-August, public transit officials picked Boji up and brought him to a vet for a health check. Boji also received a microchip which is connected to a mobile application, allowing the Metro Istanbul customer relations department to keep tabs on his whereabouts and wellbeing.

Boji’s frequent travels have made him a celebrity on public transit. When he’s not napping on a tram seat, rushing to catch a train, or enjoying the breeze on the ferry, he’s always happy to pose for selfies with commuters and receive lots of pets and treats.

INSTAGRAM/BOJI_IST

The good boy has proven himself to be the most polite passenger you’ll ever encounter.

“Boji knows all the rules of travel, gives way to the disembarking passengers, waits, enters the train, and calmly finds a place for himself,” wrote Cumhuriyet. “When he misses the subway, he runs after the subway.”

INSTAGRAM/BOJI_IST

Boji visits at least 29 stations and travels approximately 18 miles a day around the city, saying hi to his adoring fans along the way. While most commuters can’t wait to get off the subway or bus, for Boji, it’s where he’s most comfortable.

“I think it’s very beautiful,” passenger Abdulkadir Yalçın told Cumhuriyet. “It adds joy to the subway. It makes us smile. It’s the first time I’ve encountered such a thing.”

INSTAGRAM/BOJI_IST

Luckily, the good boy doesn’t have to pay a fare to hop on his preferred bus or train. For Boji, it’s just home.

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Isn’t that amazing! I wonder, however, how he stays fit and healthy? But whatever, it is a delightful story.