Tag: Laura Burge

Those deeper ways of listening

How humans and animals communicate with each other has more than an edge of mystery to it!

We sleep with our bedroom door open to the main run of the rest of the house. Generally, all six dogs sleep in our bedroom unless it is a very warm night when some of them may choose the cooler tiled surface of the kitchen floor.

Cleo, our female German Shepherd, has a bit of a sensitive stomach and it is not unknown for her to need to be let outside in the middle of the night. Just a couple of nights ago her need for a ‘poo’ break came at 02:40!

But the point of this is that no matter how deeply I am sleeping, all it takes is a short, quiet whimper next to my side of bed and I am instantly awake. I need no time at all to know that Cleo has to be let outside from our bedroom door that opens out onto the deck. A few minutes later I hear her feet padding along the wooden boards of the deck and she is let back in to the bedroom.

Thus this demonstrates how well I understand her and in turn how well she acutely listens to me.

Just look at this photograph.

The connection, the intensity, of her attention towards me. And this was just from me pointing the camera at her and ‘click, clicking’ my tongue.

Moving on!

My introduction today was inspired by an article that I recently read on the Care2 site and that I want to share with you. Here it is.

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Can Humans Understand When Animals Are in Distress?

By: Laura Burge   August 13, 2017

About Laura   Follow Laura at @literarylaura

Have you ever jumped at the sound of birds fighting or a squirrel screaming? Heard an animal make a sound somewhere nearby that made your heart race?

More than one hundred years ago, Darwin suggested that there was a universal understanding of certain animal vocalizations — a way of expressing emotion that went all the way back to the Earth’s earliest animals. Now, researchers are re-examining that theory, and they’re making some interesting headway.

In a study published in the journal “Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,” researchers decided to explore the idea that animal vocalizations, including distress calls, might be recognizable across different species — and even into different animal classes.

Earlier research delved into whether or not humans could detect which emotion, or signal, another mammal was using, but this study is the first to examine other vertebrates as well. Amphibians and reptiles joined the club, and, perhaps surprisingly, humans did pretty well determining what these animals were trying to communicate.

The researchers primarily looked into whether or not people listening to certain animal sounds would be able to detect the level of arousal — high or low — that an animal expressed vocally. High arousal indicates an animal in distress, expressing desperate or negative screams, who might be calling out because of a fight, a predator in the area or another perceived danger. Scientists believe that these sounds are part of an old signaling system.

Researchers asked 75 college-aged individuals to listen to sounds from nine different species. In order to account for language differences, these people included English, German and Mandarin speakers.

Scientists collected 180 recordings of animal vocalizations, reflecting high or low levels of excitement, such as “the sounds of frogs in competition for mates, monkeys reacting to danger or ravens confronted by a dominant bird,” and included humans in that list, instructing actors to react neutrally or with different, heightened emotions while speaking Tamil.

The 75 people were then asked to identify which vocalization out of paired sounds from the same species represented the higher level of arousal.

In this study, the results showed that people identified the correct “emotion,” roughly speaking, better than expected by chance. Here is how the accuracy broke down across species:

  • Humans: 95 percent correct
  • Giant panda: 94 percent correct
  • Hourglass tree frog: 90 percent correct
  • African bush elephant: 88 percent correct
  • American alligator: 87 percent correct
  • Black-capped chickadee: 85 percent correct
  • Pig: 68 percent correct
  • Common raven: 62 percent correct
  • Barbary macaque (monkey): 60 percent correct

It seems strange that people were less able to identify the distress call of a monkey than a frog, but Harold Gouzoules, a bioacoustician and animal behavior expert at Emory University, posits that the monkey calls may have sounded less extreme in intensity than those of the other species, making it harder to tell the difference.

“Our study shows that humans are naturally able to recognize emotional arousal across all classes of vocalizing animals,” said Piera Filippi, who studies the evolution of cognition and communication at the Vrije University Brussels in Belgium.

This doesn’t mean that humans should feel confident in interpreting animal emotions or body language in general, though. Those behaviors can vary greatly, and humans are prone to misinterpretation and anthropomorphism. You wouldn’t, for example, want to assume a wolf baring its teeth is simply smiling at you.

Naturally, much remains to be studied in the effort to understand a wider range of animal emotions. Filippi hopes to repeat the experiment, but with the black-capped chickadees taking the place of the college-aged humans in interpreting the distress calls. It will be interesting to see if this understanding between humans and other animals goes both ways.

Could there be a beneficial reason for animals to understand each other’s distress calls? What do you think?

Photo Credit: Valentino Funghi/Unsplash

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Just so long as too many different animals don’t all sound out distress calls at the same time around here!

 

Never give up!

Sharing and caring in abundance!

Please forgive the shortness of the introduction. It’s just that Jean and I were out all day and I didn’t sit down to present today’s post for all you good people until 4pm.

Frankly, this is such a wonderful account of caring for dogs that any intro from me would be superfluous!

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From Rags to Kisses: Abused Dogs Find Happy Homes in Colorado

By: Laura Burge July 1, 2017

About Laura Follow Laura at @literarylaura

In December 2014, Animal House Rescue and Grooming in Fort Collins, Colorado, found a very special delivery on its doorstep. Three dogs arrived from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, an Oglala Lakota Native American reservation.

One of the poorest communities in the country, the reservation has an overabundance of unwanted pets facing the risk of disease, starvation, exposure to the elements and, unfortunately, violence.

After a five-hour drive, DeeDee, Prince and Maizy made the first step to finding new and happy lives.

DeeDee was originally discovered living in the trash dump on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where she made her home upon an old discarded sofa atop a pile of tires. A local rescuer, aware of her plight, spent a week slowly gaining DeeDee’s trust with food.

Once the understandably nervous dog allowed the rescuer to get close enough to her, she found herself on a leash and then in a car. Little did DeeDee know she was on her long way home.

DeeDee spent some time in foster care in South Dakota, recovering from mange and learning to trust again before she was transferred to Animal House to give her a better chance of finding her future family. It didn’t take long for them to find each other, with DeeDee’s charming and playful nature quickly winning over their hearts.

Prince, a 2-year-old shepherd mix, had been found covered in matted fur and burrs. He showed up at Animal House having been shaved, but full of affection.

When Prince arrived, they noticed that there was a problem with his back leg and quickly got him in for x-rays. The cause became quickly apparent, and horrible: Prince had been shot on the reservation. The bullet had travelled through his rear hip and shattered his femoral head.

Not knowing how long he had been suffering through the pain of his injury, the staff at Animal House was anxious for Prince to find relief as quickly as possible. He was sent to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a femoral head osteotomy, a surgery that alleviated his pain and allowed him to keep his rear leg.

Thankfully, his lovable nature showed through. Prince was able to recover in comfort and bask in newfound love, as he went to his new home shortly after surgery.

Maizy was a beautiful 8-month-old Husky mix puppy with eyes that melted hearts. Whatever happened to Maizy on the reservation, something that will remain a mystery, she came to Animal House in a lot of pain.

Maizy had several neurological symptoms and pain in her neck. After x-rays, the shelter soon found that the puppy had a fractured cervical vertebra, which was causing compression on her spinal cord. This could have been catastrophic for Maizy, but she’s a fighter.

Maizy’s foster family dedicated their time to bringing her to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for regular bandaging and casting to keep her spine in place. Her beautiful face and wonderful personality through all of this ended up winning the heart of an Animal House volunteer. Having made a full recovery and a lifelong connection, Maizy now lives happily in her loving forever home.

Adoption Highlight: Special Needs Dogs

These adorable special needs dogs are still waiting to find their way to new homes.

Banjo is a 6-year-old pit bull terrier mix who had a rough start to life, facing his many challenges with a great attitude. He arrived at Animal House with skin issues related to allergies, worn down teeth and scarring on his body, as well as kidney disease. Banjo gives the best hugs and thinks he is a lap dog, so he would make an excellent snuggle buddy.

Bella is a 2-year-old shih tzu mix who arrived at Animal House after her former sanctuary had to close its doors. Bella has a love for life and gets along well with other dogs and cats. She does struggle in some areas, though, specifically with constipation and some house-training. Bella is looking for a patient and kind forever home willing to help her live comfortably with her condition.

Ghost is a 2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix who is sensitive, intelligent, and inquisitive. He is nervous about new people and environments and needs a home that can build his confidence so that he can be happy and comfortable in a variety of situations. Ghost just wants some good old-fashioned love and patience!

You can find out more about these adoptable dogs here.

Photo credits: Animal House Rescue and Grooming, Colorado

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Whatever the state of the world, as long as there are organisations and people who will love and care for animals in need then I will be at peace.

Pet happiness in Switzerland.

Protecting the rights of animals.

In the vast majority of countries our pet animals have few, in any, legal rights.

Thus it was a wonderful reminder of another example of how the Swiss government sets the lead in so many ways to read on the Care 2 site how that country looks after their animals. Laura Burge offers the details in this republication of an essay on Care 2.

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10 Reasons Switzerland Is a Great Place to Be a Pet


By: Laura Burge June 10, 2017

About Laura Follow Laura at @literarylaura

Switzerland is a fairly small country, but it stills boasts an estimated seven million pets living there, not including the farm animals that dot the countryside. Although far from perfect, it has a long history of improving the working and living conditions for animals within the country, including landmark legislation in 1992 when it became the first country to include animal rights in their constitution. Specifically, it included a provision that allowed for the protection of animal dignity.

Then, in 2008, Switzerland introduced a bevy of new animal rights regulations that went even further. With that in mind, here are some of the more interesting laws that Switzerland has put in place to improve the lives of animals in their midst.

1. Guinea pigs must live with or have regular playdates with other members of their species. They can get lonely if they don’t have a companion. Since guinea pigs often don’t live the exact same amount of time, matchmaking services have sprouted up in the country to make sure they are not alone.

By Antoine Beauvillain via StockSnap.io

2. The Swiss have your cat’s social life in mind, too — if a cat doesn’t have a feline companion at home, he or she must be able to go outside to socialize with others, or at the very least, be able to see other cats from home.

3. Surprisingly, goldfish must also have friends to swim around with. The Swiss believe it is cruel to have them live alone in a small fish bowl, as they are actually social animals.

4. Rabbits’ enclosures must have a dark area that they can retreat to, if they feel the need. Rabbits are very particular about their space, and having a dark area of their enclosure helps ensure that bunnies are happy and less stressed.

5. Fish must live in aquariums that experience natural day and night cycles, and have at least one opaque side.

By Marvin Meyer via StockSnap.io

6. Before bringing a dog into a new home, a person must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating that they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they’ve already had a dog, though, they’re off the hook.

7. Dogs have to be exercised daily, according to what they need, and, as much as possible, off leash. Everyone knows that different dogs have different levels of energy, so whether someone has a lazy Great Dane who just wants to walk around the block, or a bouncing terrier who needs to run, the law accounts for it.

8. Dogs that are tied up must be able to run around freely for at least five hours a day, and the rest of the time, must be able to move around in at least 20 square meters of space. While this may not seem ideal, since dogs are still allowed to be tied up, it means that there’s a national law on the side of the pet if the owner is using a choke chain or the dog is not getting time to run around freely.

By Isaac Benhesed

9. Parrots, also considered social creatures, are required to have a companion to spend their days with. The legislation can be eye-opening in how many creatures need others of their own kind to have a relaxed and happy life as a companion to people.

10. Clipping the ears or tails of dogs is not allowed. It is considered undue pain and damage, and dogs get to live out their days with their natural floppy ears and wagging tails.

While Switzerland, like most other countries, are far from achieving perfect animal welfare laws and enforcement, they have made some good progress that other countries would do well to keep an eye on.

Photo credit: Laura Burge, author

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Did you spot that four out of those ten laws that were described in the article were for the well-being of dogs!

Fantastic!

And even better than that is a State in the USA that also comes to the rescue, legally, of abused animals. Tune in tomorrow for the full story.