Tag: Care2

Enhancing the life of our dogs!

We truly do want our dogs to live to a grand old age.

In recent posts I have included photographs of Cleo and Brandy. (As I will now do again!)

Cleo, the listening dog par excellence!

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Brandy – as pure as it gets!

However, one of the sad aspects of our bigger dogs is that their lifespan is usually shorter than our smaller dogs.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could live longer lives.

That is the reason that I didn’t hesitate for a moment in wanting to share an essay that was recently published on the Care2 site.

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Want Your Dog to Live to 30? Add This to Their Bowl

a Care2 favorite by Lisa Spector

About Lisa Follow Lisa at @throughadogsear

As I watched pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib’s TedX video below, I found it simultaneously jaw-dropping and not surprising. After his dog, Sammie, was diagnosed with cancer, Habib went on a mission to find out why canine cancer is a growing epidemic. Currently, one out of every two dogs will be diagnosed with cancer at sometime in their life, mostly between age 6 and 12.

I have a 13-year-old Labrador. Admittedly, I’m obsessed with my awareness that he’s approaching the end of his life. But, what if he weren’t? What if he could live until he’s 30 like Maggie, the Kelpie, from Australia. Maggie was possibly the world’s oldest dog.

During Habib’s trek around the world, he spoke with researchers and scientists. He learned that dogs have a higher rate of cancer than any other mammal. In the ’70s, dogs lived to age 17; today the average life span is 11. Why?

Diabetes is up 900 percent in dogs in the last five years. Obesity is up 60 percent. While 10 percent of all cancer cases are genetic, 90 percent are the results of lifestyle and environmental influences, including stress, obesity, infection, sedentary lifestyle, toxins, pollution and most importantly diet.

Habib spoke with Norwegian scientist, Thomas Sandberg, who is conducting a 30-year-old study (the longest observational study to date). Sandberg is hoping to prove that poor quality food may cause cancer to develop in dogs and cats, mainly due to a compromised immune system.

Natural and dry dog's food

Here’s the part of Rodney’s TedX Talk that was jaw-dropping for me: Research shows that dogs on a diet of dry commercial pet food fed leafy green vegetables at least three times a week were 90 percent less likely to develop cancer than dogs that weren’t. And dogs fed yellow/orange vegetables at least three times a week were 70 percent less likely to develop cancer.

I feed Sanchez and Gina organic kale, spinach, green beans and carrots, along with many fruits. Personally, I wasn’t surprised by the benefits, but by the research showing that just a little bit of produce added to kibble could have such a profound effect on canine health.

Thomas Sandberg has Great Danes, who typically live only six to eight years. In a 6-year study of 80 dogs fed a completely raw diet with low amounts of carbs, only one dog developed cancer.

Another study at Purdue University showed a 90 percent decrease risk of cancer when they added green leafy vegetables to a bowl of processed food three times a week.

Remember Maggie, the world’s oldest dog? In addition to a diet that included raw fed grass milk, she also self fasted some days. She lived on a dairy farm and exercised all day long, often getting in 9 kilometers (5 1/2 miles ). Obesity is also now known to be a contributing factor to canine cancer, which is why exercising with your pet is so important.

We have dogs because we love them. We bring them into our human world and expect them to adjust. They do, because they want to please us. We expect them to follow our house rules, listen to the music we choose,  build their life around our schedules, and accept the food we choose for them. But, what if we knew more and chose differently for them? How long would they live?

Do your pets eat green leafy veggies?

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Now if you have read down to this point but not yet watched Rodney Habib’s talk then …. STOP!

Go back and watch that talk!

Then you can truly appreciate the value of looking at the diets of our beautiful dogs!

Love to hear your thoughts on this!

Oh, and both Brandy and little Pedy are great vegetable eaters. But we will be following the recommendations of Rodney Habib and will share our findings with you all later on.

 

Saving dogs big time

This is really what matters!

Well it does in the worlds of Jean and me and many of you who frequent this place.

Whatever is going wrong in the world around us, all we need is examples of people putting animals in front of them.

No better illustrated than by a recent news item released by Humane Society International. Albeit, I am using the story as it was presented on the Care2 site.

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Nearly 150 Dogs Saved From the Dog Meat Trade in South Korea

Get ready for some happy news: 149 dogs who were destined to be turned into food have been successfully rescued and will now be starting their new lives in peace.

These dogs, who were rescued by a team from Humane Society International (HSI), are among millions who are raised and killed for their meat in South Korea. According to HSI, more than one million dogs are killed and eaten during Bok Nal days – the three hottest days of the summer – mainly as a soup that’s mistakenly believed to improve stamina and virility.

Fortunately, their fate changed when the farmer who was raising them turned to HSI for help. The organization has been working in partnership with those in the industry who express interest in getting out to help them close their farms and transition into other lines of work.

This latest rescue marks the ninth dog meat farm that HSI has permanently closed since 2014, which has resulted in saving the lives of nearly 1,000 dogs who would have otherwise been brutally slaughtered.

The dogs from this farm will now be free from the cages and chains that confined them, and are headed to HSUS Emergency Placement Partner shelters in the U.S. located in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where they’ll be prepared to be adopted into homes where they’ll become members of a family.

The first few have already arrived, and the rest will be on their way in the coming weeks. A group of 15 puppies who were too young to fly are being fostered with their moms until they’re ready to make the trip.

“With every dog meat farm we close, we are not only saving the lives of these poor, terrified dogs caught up in this cruel trade, but we are also presenting a successful blueprint for change that we hope the government will follow. Eating dog is a dying practice in Korea, especially among young people. However, the Bok Nal days of summer still lead many to eat dog meat soup in the mistaken belief that it will invigorate the blood in the sluggish heat. Our campaign shows them the disgusting conditions in which the dogs are forced in live in their own feces, and their pitiful suffering, and it is changing hearts and minds,” said Nara Kim, HSI’s South Korea dog meat campaigner.

While millions of dogs are still at risk, attitudes among the public are changing for the better, particularly among younger generations who are eschewing dog meat.

“Some people say that dog eating is Korean culture, but you won’t find many young people who feel it’s a cultural habit we want to hold on to. It’s intellectually lazy to use culture as an excuse for cruelty because all cultures evolve over time and we often shed practices of the past. We are hopeful that things will change, and that the new Korean president will advance a new culture of compassion to animals. I am so happy that for these dogs the dog meat trade is over, but we have to fight on for the millions who are still suffering,” added Kim.

HSI is continuing to urge the government to act to end the trade ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be hosted in South Korea, and will be heavily campaigning this summer to raise more awareness about the issue locally.

For more info on how to help, and updates on the dogs, check out Humane Society International.

Photo credit: Friends of Oregon Zoo Elephants/IDA

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The Care 2 version also included a number of very moving photographs but this one, in particular, seemed a great one to share with you. The rest will form the next Picture Parade.

Well done HSI!

 

What a nose!

Two items that recently caught my eye.

The power of a dog’s nose is incredible and it is something that has been written about in this place on more than one occasion.

But two recent news items reminded me once again of the way we humans can be helped by our wonderful canine partners.

The first was a report that appeared on the Care2 website about how dogs are being used to search for victims in the burnt out ruins following that terrible Grenfell Tower fire. That report opened, thus:

By: Laura Goldman June 24, 2017
About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Wearing heat-proof booties to protect their feet, specially trained dogs have been dispatched in London’s Grenfell Tower to help locate victims and determine the cause of last week’s devastating fire that killed at least 79 people.

Because they’re smaller and weigh less than humans, urban search-and-rescue dogs with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) are able to access the more challenging areas of the charred 24-story building, especially the upper floors that sustained the most damage.

It then went on to include a photograph from the London Fire Brigade.

We’ve used specialist search dogs at #GrenfellTower. They’re lighter than humans and can cover a large area quickly.

The next item, apart from also being about the dog’s nose, couldn’t have been more different. It appeared on the Mother Nature Network site and is republished in full.

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Border collies join the search for Amelia Earhart

4 dogs skilled in finding long-buried bones are headed to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro.

Michael d’Estries    June 21, 2017.

Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The high-tech search to find the remains of pilot Amelia Earhart and close the book on one of the aviation world’s greatest mysteries is going to the dogs.

According to National Geographic, four border collies — Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle — will embark on a voyage later this month to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro (previously called Gardner Island) in the western Pacific Ocean. The remote triangular coral atoll, less than five miles long and two miles wide, is widely speculated as the location where Earhart and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, performed an emergency landing during their ill-fated 1937 world flight.

While concrete evidence of the pair surviving as castaways on Nikumaroro has never been found, there have been some intriguing clues. These include a piece of scrap metal that likely came from Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, a sextant box, and fragmented remains of U.S. beauty and skin care products that may date back to the 1930s.

The most intriguing find, however, happened in 1940 with the discovery of 13 bones under a tree on the island’s southeast corner. The remains were shipped to Fiji and subsequently misplaced, but measurements recorded before their loss and examined later by forensic anthropologists indicate that they may have belonged to “a tall white female of northern European ancestry.” With these findings were recently thrown into doubt, the only true way to know if the remains belong to Earhart or Noonan is to find the remaining bones.

The right nose for the job

The four dogs headed to Nikumaroro, officially known as Human Remains Detection Dogs, are part of the latest expedition organized by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery). Trained at the Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF), these specialized dogs are capable of sniffing out bones centuries old and buried as much as 9 feet deep.

“No other technology is more sophisticated than the dogs,” Fred Hiebert, archaeologist in residence at the National Geographic Society, which is sponsoring the canines, said in a statement. “They have a higher rate of success identifying things than ground-penetrating radar.”

According to the ICF, detection dogs are never trained to smell out live humans, focusing instead on old cases, small scent sources and residual scent. They also excel at locating remains without disturbing the burial site.

You can view one of the ICF dogs in action, seeking out the remains of ancient Native American burial sites, in the video below.

“This kind of searching requires the dog to be slow and methodical and keep its nose just above the surface of the ground, any fast moves and the dog can miss the grave,” the group explains. “It takes many years of slow and patient training to develop the skills needed to do this work.”

Once remains are detected, the dogs generally do little more than lie down on top of the potential burial site. Should Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle detect anything, TIGHAR’s archeologists will perform a careful excavation to uncover the source.

In addition to using canines, the team from TIGHAR will also take time over the eight-day expedition to survey sites on Nikumaroro using metal detectors and even an advanced underwater drone. Their greatest hope, however, lies with the highly advanced noses of the very good boys and girls sniffing out an 80-year-old mystery.

“If the dogs don’t find anything, we’ll have to think about what that means,” Hiebert added. “But if the dogs are successful, it will be the discovery of a lifetime.”

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What a sense of smell!

Thank goodness.

Calming for dogs.

Slowly we are all moving on.

You will all recall the shock of me seeing Pharaoh’s empty bed that first morning after he had died. This picture:

Not only was it difficult to look at but not one of our other dogs went near it. This was despite the fact that Jean had washed and cleaned the whole bed.

One could almost imagine the dogs understanding that it would not have respected their memory of Pharaoh to immediately takeover his rather nice bed.

But life has to move on!

Yesterday evening, just as Jean and I were getting everyone ready for bedtime, Cleo signaled that she was moving on.

She had settled herself down on the bed.

That was so good to see and was another step in the right direction in settling me down as well!

So on the theme of being calm, especially in these hot summer months, do read this recent article that was published on the Care2 site.

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7 Ways to Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms

By: Becky Striepe June 21, 2017

About Becky Follow Becky at @glueandglitter

My dogs are both terrified of thunderstorms. These are some of the tricks that vets and trainers have recommended to help our poor babes when stormy weather rolls in.

Our lab mix, Jenna, trembles in the corner when it thunders, while our 60-pound dog, Bandit, tries to leap into my lap. These are some of the ways to calm a dog during thunderstorms that we’ve tried.

Every dog is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Jenna is terrified of the Thundershirt, for example, but many people I know swear by it. Chances are, not all of these calming techniques will help your dog during a thunderstorm. You’re basically throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

Ways to Calm a Dog During Thunderstorms

Lavender and massage oil on a old wooden background

1. Lavender Oil

You don’t want your dog to ingest lavender oil, so put a few drops on her collar when a storm is freaking her out. The soothing scent can help calm some dogs’ nerves, and the smell is a distraction from what’s going on in the sky.

2. Massage

Just like humans, dogs find massage soothing. The video above shows a calming massage that you can use on your dog during a thunderstorm. You can also try an ear massage, which Jenna responds to really well. Basically, you gently run your hand up the dog’s ear, from where the ear meets the head to the tip of the ear. When you reach the tip, gently massage for a second, then repeat. Like in the video, it seems to work best if I also talk to her in a soothing voice while massaging.

3. A Hand on the Back

Sometimes, your dog just needs to know that you are there and in control of the situation. This trick works well on our dog, Bandit, who is definitely boss dog in our house. During a storm, a hand on his back helps him feel like he can step back from being the pack leader, which helps him feel secure and safe. Talking in a soothing voice helps here, too.

4. Training Exercises

You may feel like it’s mean to start bossing your scared dog around, but practicing her sit/stay/shake is a great way to distract your dog from the storm and remind her that you’ve got this under control. This one works well on both of my dogs.

5. Thundershirt

These wrap shirts help soothe a lot of dogs during thunderstorms, and they’re available at any pet store. Many friends with dogs have recommended the Thundershirt to me. It made Jenna more anxious, but she is clearly in the minority in this situation.

6. White Noise

If your dog can’t hear the storm, your dog won’t be so scared. Dogs can feel the shift in pressure from a storm, even when they can’t hear it, so this technique seems to work best in conjunction with other calming techniques, like massage or lavender oil. Bring your dog to her favorite room, turn down the lights, and turn up the white noise. If you don’t have a white noise machine, you can find free white noise tracks on YouTube, like the one above.

7. Rescue Remedy for Pets

Rescue Remedy is a blend of plant extracts. They make homeopathic drops and gummies for humans, and they have drops for pets, as well. The site recommends putting the drops into water, but I’ve also had good luck putting them onto a treat or into a glob of peanut butter, if my dogs aren’t too scared from the storm to take a treat.

As I mentioned above, different natural remedies will work for different dogs, so don’t be discouraged if the first thing you try doesn’t work out. Sometimes, especially for high anxiety dogs, you’ll have the best results combining a few of these ways to calm a dog during a thunderstorm.

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I don’t know about tips for calming dogs, some of these sound great for yours truly!

The science of love.

Yes, really!

Here’s a photograph of Pharaoh taken on the 3rd December, 2005. Taken in my home in Harberton, Devon, some two years before I met Jeannie.

It’s not the world’s best photograph but I start today’s post with it simply because there is a look in Pharaoh’s eyes that spells out love to me in capital letters. Always has since the day I took that photograph.

Here’s an enlargement of the photo offering a closer look at Pharaoh’s expression in those eyes.

Right from the very first moment that I held Pharaoh I sensed the start of a loving bond. Did I choose to love Pharaoh? Well, of course I did! Was it a conscious decision? I don’t think so!

All of which is my introduction to a fascinating essay about the science of love that recently appeared on the Care2 site.

Enjoy!

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Can You Choose to Love? Science Suggests You Can

By: Zoe Blarowski June 2, 2017

About Zoe

Love may often feel spontaneous and sometimes even out of control. But is it, really? Research is starting to show that you can change the intensity of love you feel towards others. Similar to emotions like fear or sadness, love can be influenced simply by how you think about a situation.

Is love under your control?

One study looked at altering love feelings in people who were either in a romantic relationship or had recently broken up from one. Each participant started by viewing pictures of their current lover or their ex-partner to bring up their current feelings towards them.

Then, researchers asked them to think about positive aspects of their partner, relationship or possible future scenarios. Their feelings towards their current or previous partners were assessed again.

The second part of the study asked participants to think of negative things about their partner, such as what’s wrong with them or their relationship.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that participants reported having greater love feelings after thinking positive thoughts. Whereas, they reported decreased lovingness after the negative thoughts. It was the same for everyone, whether they were in a relationship or had recently broken up.

Researchers felt this shows great potential for people to take more control of their emotional world, which could in turn benefit their lives and relationships.

Interestingly, thoughts also appeared to affect everyone’s overall mood and feelings about life in general. The positive thoughts improved people’s mood and disposition, whereas the negative thoughts brought everyone down.

This may highlight the importance of how positive and negative thoughts in general can affect our mental health.

How can you put this to use?

You can likely think of times in your own life when it would be helpful to either decrease or increase your love for another person.

Have you ever had an unwanted crush on someone? For instance, obsessing over a celebrity you’ll likely never meet can cause more frustration than joy in your life. Or maybe you’ve fallen for someone who’s not available, either physically or emotionally.

These are times when it’s in your best interest to end your attachment to the person and move on.

In addition, research has shown that thinking negatively about an ex-partner or your previous relationship helps you get over a break-up. The reverse is also true – if you think positively about an ex, it’s more difficult to heal and move on.

Keep this in mind if you’re going through a break-up, or need to reduce your feelings towards someone for another reason.

Try asking yourself questions like these:

  • What annoys me about this person?
  • Did we ever have a fight?
  • Why were we a bad match for each other?
  • What didn’t work in our relationship?
  • What could go wrong if we stayed together?

Reframing your thoughts is also a much healthier way to try to get over someone than taking self-destructive action to distract yourself, such as drinking too much.

On the other hand, the world always needs a lot more love to go around. Increasing your love towards others is often one of the best things you can do to help yourself and everyone in your life.

Unfortunately, the top reason married couples give for getting a divorce is growing apart and falling out of love. It’s true the intensity of love feelings usually fluctuates throughout a long-term relationship, but a decrease in feelings doesn’t have to mean the end.

If you’re starting to question whether or not you should stay in a long-standing relationship, take a closer look at your situation before making a final decision. Do you still respect and care for your partner? Do you still have lots in common? Is it possible you’re just in a temporary slump?

Questions like these may help to re-frame how you feel about your relationship:

  • What are some of your partner’s best qualities?
  • Why did you get together in the first place?
  • Are there things you’d like to do with your partner in the future?
  • What makes you a good match for each other?
  • Do you enjoy spending time with your partner?

Romantic partners who view each other in a positive light have been shown to actually have happier relationships. This is likely true for all relationships. Choosing more positive thoughts can go a long way towards creating greater harmony with all your loved ones.

Sharing your thoughts and telling others why you love them is even better.

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As my dearest Jeannie will confirm, I have never been the most comfortable person in terms of verbalising my love for her, despite Jean being the dream loving partnership of my life. Jean, on the other hand, expresses her love for me many times each day.

Maybe this essay offers an insight into the different ways we love?

For Jean also tells the dogs individually many times each day that she loves them. I feel the same but don’t say it anything like as often.

So is science showing us why the difference between Jean and me? I think so.

Yet another thing that we learn from dogs. Or more specifically that I have to learn from dogs!

Tell them every day how much I love them!

The science of understanding between dogs and humans.

How our dogs process what we say to them.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post Talking to One’s Dog. Many of you stopped by and left your comments, all of which was to confirm how much speaking to your dogs (and cats) is part of normal life for you.

I finished that post writing:

Let me close by reminding all you good people of yet another wonderful aspect of the relationship between humans and dogs. In that we all know the dog evolved from the grey wolf. But had you pondered on the fact that wolves don’t bark! Yes, they howl but they do not bark.

There is good science to underpin the reason why dogs evolved barking; to have a means of communicating with us humans.

Every person who has a dog in their life will instinctively understand the meaning of most, if not all, of the barks their dog utters.

Anyway, I was going through some websites yesterday and, quite by chance, came across that science that I referred to above. It was in a Care2 article published last September and I am republishing it below.

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Yes, Dogs Apparently Do Understand What We’re Saying

By: Laura Goldman, September 5, 2016

About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

You might want to start spelling out some words around your dog. According to a new study, not only do dogs comprehend what we’re trying to tell them by the tone of our voices, but they can also even understand what it is we’re saying — sort of.

Neuroscientist Attila Andics and his fellow researchers at the Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest discovered that just like human brains, a dog’s brain reacts to both the meaning of a word and how it is spoken. Just like us, the left hemisphere of a dog’s brain responds to meaning, while the right hemisphere responds to intonation.

The study, published August 30 in the journal Science, shows that even non-primate mammals who cannot speak can still comprehend the meanings of words in a speech-filled environment. This suggests that the ability of our brains to process words is not unique to humans, and may have evolved much earlier than previously thought.

Not only could these results help make communicating with our dogs more efficient, but the study sheds new light on the origin of words during language evolution. “What makes words uniquely human is not a special neural capacity, but our invention of using them,” Andics said in a press release.

While previous studies have observed dogs to see how they understand us, this is the first one that took a look inside their brains using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The 13 participants were all family pets. They included six border collies, five golden retrievers, a Chinese crested dog and a German shepherd.

To be tested, the dogs were first trained to lie still for eight minutes in the MRI machine while wearing headphones and a radio-frequency coil. (Based on the wagging tail of a Golden Retriever in the video below, this didn’t seem to bother at least one of the participants.) Their brain activity was recorded as they listened to a recording of their trainer saying, in both positive and neutral tones, words of praise – like “Good boy!” and “Well done!” – as well as neutral words like “however” and “as if.”

Not too surprisingly, the positively spoken positive words got a big reaction in the reward centers of the dogs’ brains. The positive words spoken neutrally and neutral words spoken with positive tones? Not so much.

Regardless of how they were spoken, the dogs processed the meaningful words in the left hemisphere of their brains. They processed intonation in the right hemisphere.

“There’s no acoustic reason for this difference,” Andics told Science. “It shows that these words have meaning to dogs. They integrate the two types of information to interpret what they heard, just as we do.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean dogs understand every single thing we say (although a Border Collie named Chaser understands over 1,000 words, which is pretty doggone remarkable).

Julie Hecht, a Ph.D. student studying canine behavior and cognition at City University of New York, offers this advice in Scientific American: “Before discussing this with your dog — ‘I knew you could understand me this whole time!’ — the caveat to this research is that a dog processing words — registering, ‘Ah! That’s familiar!’ — and a dog understanding words as you intend are not necessarily the same thing.”

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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I have recounted this example before about how well our dogs listen to Jean and me.

For we take our dogs out for some playtime each day after our lunch. Years ago we used to chat about whether or not to have a cup of tea before taking the dogs for a walk. But pretty quickly once they heard the word “walk’ spoken aloud they were all crowding around the front door.

Then it was a case of spelling out the word: “W – A – L – K”. That lasted for, oh, two or three days.

Then it was using a variety of phrases that we thought would be meaningless to the dogs. That didn’t work!

And on and on.

Now, as soon as we are finishing up our food they are at the door. Jean and I now delay our hot drink to later on!

The most beautiful human – animal relationship in the world!

Talking to one’s dog!

Are you a dog owner? Then here’s something else that you gain from your wonderful friend.

I was rather short on time yesterday so apologies for cutting my introduction to a minimum. But you will still love this item that appeared on the Care2 site three days ago.

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People Who Talk to Their Pets Are Actually Quite Intelligent

If you’ve ever owned a pet, you’ve probably talked to it at one point or another. And even though you may have been fully aware that your pet couldn’t talk back or even really comprehend what you were saying, you still did it anyway.

Why do we do this? Why do we talk to our pets like human friends when we know their little minds just aren’t built to think or feel the same way we do?

When we talk to our pets, we subconsciously create a human-like bond in our own minds with non-human creatures. We’re built for connection — and we feel more connected to things when we recognize that they’re just like us.

Talking to animals (and even to inanimate objects, such as house plants) is called anthropomorphism. We usually call it “cute” when kids do it, but when adults do it, we tend to view it as a little weird and immature.

According to behavioral science professor at the University of Chicago and anthropomorphism expert Nicholas Epley, talking to animals and objects is actually a sign of intelligent social cognition. Humans are very social creatures, so our brains are wired to see faces and perceive minds everywhere.

Epley explains that we anthropomorphize the things that we love as opposed to the things that we hate. The more we like something, the more likely we are to want to engage with its mind — even if it doesn’t actually have a mind.

In a 2011 study where a group of participants were shown photos of baby animals and adult animals, most admitted to liking the baby animals better and were more likely to anthropomorphize them. If the participants could own one of the baby animals, they said that they would name it, talk to it and refer to it by its appropriate gender pronoun.

The most common way we anthropomorphize animals and objects is by giving them names, but it can apply to character traits, too. For example, a person may describe their cat as “sassy” or their car as a “rickety old man.” These human-like character traits given to non-human things reflect our relationship with them and perhaps even symbolize extensions of ourselves.

Anthropomorphizing only benefits us when inanimate objects are involved, but when it comes to anthropomorphizing domesticated animals like dogs and cats, both ourselves and our pets can benefit. Since these animals evolved over thousands of years to become human companions, they are biologically designed to bond with us.

Studies have shown that when we talk to dogs, they can distinguish between the meaning of the words and the emotional cues we give them. Cats may not be as responsive to human language as dogs are, but they do have the ability to recognize their owners’ voices and they also have 16 different types of vocalizations they use to communicate.

So you can let go of the widely held belief that talking to your pet, your houseplants, your car or anything else is childish or even a little bit crazy. From a scientific viewpoint, it turns out that quite the opposite is true.

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Let me close by reminding all you good people of yet another wonderful aspect of the relationship between humans and dogs. In that we all know the dog evolved from the grey wolf. But had you pondered on the fact that wolves don’t bark! Yes, they howl but they do not bark.

There is good science to underpin the reason why dogs evolved barking; to have a means of communicating with us humans.

Every person who has a dog in their life will instinctively understand the meaning of most, if not all, of the barks their dog utters.

Dogs are saving our lives!

Literally, not just emotionally!

Over on my website, under My Writings, I mention my recently published booklet, The Amazing World of Dogs.

Here’s an extract from pages 17-18 of that booklet.

Finally, Dr. Morten Kringelbach of the Department of Psychiatry at Oxford University1 explains that the need to nurture is very deep in us humans and that dogs produce an instinctive parental response in us that is very similar to our nurturing instinct for our children.

If the magic of having dogs in our lives for such a long time ended there it would still be breathtakingly wonderful. But dogs could now be offering us humans the capacity to understand many human diseases. Literally, our dogs could be saving our lives!

The challenge in understanding human diseases is that within our ‘breed’ there is a great variability of genes. Not surprising when one considers the incredible diversity and variation within us humans.

But when we turn to dogs then we have a bonus. For despite there being, as mentioned earlier, 400 or more different breeds of dog, within each breed dogs are very similar to each other. In other words, that narrow gene pool within a specific dog breed makes if far easier to pinpoint genetic mutations than it is in humans.

Elinor Karlsson is the director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.2 As a geneticist, Dr. Karlsson has identified, “hundreds of diseases common to dogs and humans”. In 2005, the dog’s genome was fully mapped; all 2.4 billion letters of the dog’s genome

Among those common diseases between us humans and our wonderful dogs are diabetes, cardiac diseases, epilepsy, many cancers especially bone cancers, and breast cancer and even brain tumours.

So it was an obvious thing to do to republish the following article that appeared on the Care2 site a few days ago.

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 Could a Dog Vaccine Help Save Kids With Brain Cancer?

By: Laura Goldman April 17, 2017

About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

The statistics are grim: About 60 to 70 percent of children who have glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer, do not survive more than two years. This fast-growing cancer is resistant to traditional treatments like radiation and chemotherapy.

For dogs, cancer statistics are also grim. More than 6 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer every year, and one out of four dogs will get cancer during their lifetime. It’s the leading cause of death for dogs after the age of two.

But there could be hope for both dogs and kids. A vaccine being developed that destroys cancer cells in dogs could also be successful in fighting glioblastoma in children.

Researchers at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., have started a partnership with ELIAS Animal Health, a company that’s testing treatments for osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and B cell lymphoma in dogs.

“If we take advantage of the resources we have in this region and get behind those collaborations, this could be a mecca for advanced, exciting, innovative therapies for cancer and lots of other diseases,” Dr. Doug Myers, an oncologist at Children’s Mercy, told the Kansas City Star.

ELIAS Cancer Immunotherapy (ECI) uses the dog’s own immune system to destroy the cancer. “Research has shown that ex vivo activated T cells have the machinery to effectively kill cancer cells, including cancer stem cells,” according to the company’s website. “ELIAS Cancer Immunotherapy utilizes adoptive cell therapy to deliver an army of activated T cells.”

The dog is vaccinated with his own cancer cells to produce an immune response, then the generated white blood cells destroy the cancer cells.

“Personalized T cells are then safely obtained from the patient through apheresis [the removal of blood] and then ‘super charged’ to produce a large population of killer T cells that are reinfused into the patient to kill the cancer,” the company explains.

ELIAS Animal Health is currently conducting clinical trials of ECI at Kansas State University, the University of Missouri-Columbia and a few animal hospitals across the country. The success rates of using ECI along with surgery on dogs with cancer are being compared with those of patients that are treated with surgery alone.

“Early clinical study results already show positive outcomes,” Tammie Wahaus, CEO of ELIAS Animal Health, said in November 2016.

Among the ECI success stories is that of Dakota, a German shorthaired pointer who continues to survive a year after she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma. This is twice as long as her original prognosis. X-rays taken during a follow-up examination showed no signs of the cancer spreading.

Could ECI also successfully treat children with glioblastoma? Dr. Kevin Ginn, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Mercy, and other researchers are currently developing protocols for trials. They’re planning to apply for a Phase II clinical trial with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, using the results of ECI’s studies on safety and effectiveness as far as dogs are concerned. The Phase II trial would give ECI to a large group of children to see if it’s effective and further evaluate its safety.

Animal health trials are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are less expensive and proceed faster than FDA-regulated human trials, the Kansas City Star reports, “but successful human health treatments often bring a larger return on investment.”

In this case, a larger return on investment could be a win-win for children as well as dogs with cancer.

Photo credit: cgordon8527

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My booklet closes thus:

Many would extend that proficiency of dogs to include their sense of loyalty and forgiveness, to and of us humans, but that all pales into insignificance when compared to what our understanding of dogs is giving us.

No less than the capacity to help cure many of our diseases, to deeply understand the workings of the human mind, and above all else, to offer insight into our very existence.

That’s quite a relationship!

Quite a relationship indeed!

Snow time is smile time

These dogs are most definitely not suffering from depression!

Good people, I was late to my desk yesterday and was looking for something to present to you without it taking too much time.

The Care2 site came to the rescue with the following video. Plus, such a bonus following last Saturday’s article about dogs suffering from depression and how to cure them when they are down.

It doesn’t get farther from depression than this!

Hopefully back to normal tomorrow!