Tag: Mary Jo DiLonardo

Freedom matters, even for animals.

So many of us take it for granted that we can hardly imagine what it’s like for our animals not to have freedom.

Mary Jo retells an account of rescuing a number of dogs from a terrible situation. I won’t get in the way of her story.

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Why the 5 freedoms of animal welfare matter

Hoarding and neglect cases hit us hard because we can’t imagine people who don’t take care of their animals.

By MARY JO DILONARDO
January 19, 2019.

A mama doodle and her week-old baby decompress after being rescued from a hoarding situation. (Photo: Mary Jo DiLonardo)

I was supposed to be on a break. I fostered eight puppies back to back last year with the last one leaving right after Christmas. No doe-eyed dog was going to tug on my heartstrings.

But then I heard about a hoarding and neglect case where some 30 doodles were found living outdoors, perched on piles of hard clay and mounds of feces. A local rescue, Releash Atlanta, waded into the mess and scooped up seven of these dogs, putting out a plea for fosters to help. I kept looking at the face of a mama dog curled up with her newborn pup.

What break? The frightened mom and her itty-bitty baby are now decompressing in my basement until their permanent foster takes over next week. They’re learning that people aren’t terrible, and mama has found that chicken tastes great.

There’s something about cases like these that hit animal lovers — heck, most people — with a sickening blow. We can’t wrap our heads around the idea of animals, especially pets, living in such deplorable conditions.

The 5 freedoms of animal welfare

Former rescue dog Stanna now lives a great life with the best food, shelter and toys. (Photo: Lucy Bell)

Look at the lives of most of the pets you know. They eat quality food, go to the vet regularly, stay cool in summer and warm in winter and want for very little.

These life basics seem like common sense to most of us, but more than 50 years ago the U.K. government wanted to put them in writing. In 1965, the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (which later became the Farm Animal Welfare Council) defined the specific conditions that must be met for animals being cared for by humans. They called them the “Five Freedoms,” which cover an animal’s physical and mental state. The freedoms were later updated but the gist is basically the same.

These conditions of humane treatment have been adopted by veterinarians and animal-welfare groups including the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

The Five Freedoms are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst, by ready access to water and a diet to maintain health and vigor
  • Freedom from discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease, by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  • Freedom to express normal behavior, by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and appropriate company of the animal’s own kind
  • Freedom from fear and distress, by ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoid mental suffering

Taking things for granted

More than 300 German shepherds were rescued from filthy breeding operations in Georgia. (Photo: Guardians of Rescue)

These freedoms seem so incredibly basic and that’s likely why when an animal neglect case makes headlines, we’re all so horrified.

This happened in early January, when hundreds of German shepherds were found living in unimaginably squalid conditions from a suspected puppy mill in two locations in Montgomery and Candler counties in Georgia. Led by New York’s Guardians of Rescue, dozens of rescue groups immediately stepped up to help, rescuing more than 300 of the mostly purebred dogs. They found that in addition to being housed in filthy, crowded pens, some of the dogs had sores and had been living like that for at least five years.

“We know that a lot lost their lives fighting simply because they fought for dominance. It was a recipe for disaster every single day,” Mike Lawson, an investigator for Guardians, tells MNN. “They didn’t get out, they didn’t go for walks and they had to share the same soil covered with their own feces and urine. There was no protection from the cold and no shelter from the sun on a hot day. Obviously we are grateful they are no longer there.”

The German shepherds were living in cramped, filthy pens. (Photo: Guardians of Rescue)

People from around the country and even in other parts of the world followed the drama on Facebook as all the dogs were removed from the property. Many people donated to the various rescue groups and offered to help foster or otherwise give support to these hundreds of dogs.

While Guardians also is involved with typical, everyday rescues, the group is often called in for these complicated cases.

“When people feel there’s no more hope, that’s when we jump into action,” says Lawson, who’s a retired FBI agent, like many of the group’s investigators.

“There’s the sheer number of animals and generally it’s the same typical M.O. in all these hoarding cases: It’s cramped areas, the hygiene is at an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10, and generally the health of the animals is not taken into consideration,” Lawson says. “Regardless of how it started, nobody should be keeping so many dogs on any property.”

People step up

Rescues and animal shelters save animals every day. They always need donations, fosters and other kinds of support. But when these unimaginable neglect stories surface, they know they can count on people to help.

“We see an outpouring of support from the community for a few reasons,” says Kristin Sarkar, founder of Releash Atlanta. “The first is, usually it’s a big undertaking that requires a lot of donations, whether financial or just items needed to begin the process of transferring the dogs to safety and it’s something everyone can help with, such as donating blankets, crates or leashes and collars.”

Sarkar posted the heart-wrenching video above of the doodle dogs being rescued with photos of the petrified pups as they were taken from their filthy pens. Immediately, people started asking how they could help.

“There’s also a visual that makes it hard to ignore. We can tell a story all we want, but when you actually see the story, it has a much greater effect. We’ve passed 100 car accidents, yet we will still slow down to look at the next one,” she says. “Lastly, a lot of times with cases like this, for the most part, people are good, and they want to help, and what better time to want to help than when the need is so great? Such is the case with these recent hoarding situations.”

I’ve learned this kindness firsthand.

My scared little foster dog was covered with mats and not trusting enough to really be handled yet. I asked a trainer friend of mine for advice and she called her assistant trainer who is also a groomer. He immediately came over on his day off and spent time calmly talking to this frightened pup as he trimmed off these horrible clumps of nastiness. People are amazing.

I fostered one other hoarding dog, Pax. He was petrified when he arrived and had heartworms, so he had a long road to recovery. People donated toys, treats and medical care while he was with me and were very kindly invested in his background and rescue, as well as his transformation. It took five months for him to come around and realize that people can be good.

The doodles and the German shepherds have a long road ahead of them. Thanks to rescues, fosters and the people who are donating for their care, they will now have access to the Five Freedoms. They’ll be free from hunger and pain, discomfort and fear, and will be in a safe, loving environment.

It will take a lot of work, but the good news is that eventually there will be happy endings.

“So many people have to invest time, energy, love and money into these dogs to fix them,” Lawson says. “These dogs have never been inside a home. They have never taken a car ride. Never been on a leash. Never have had a collar. To put these dogs into wonderful homes, everybody who has taken these dogs will have to put a lot into them. I’m sure, before you know it, you will start seeing some wonderful before-and-after photos of these dogs placed in homes.”

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Words fail me when it comes to the appalling cruelty as described above.

So thank goodness for those wonderful people who truly understand what it means for a dog to be loved and cared for.

Floppy ears!

Is there a difference? Mother Nature News thinks there is.

We don’t subscribe to the following idea that floppy-eared dogs are sweeter, more friendlier.

But there’s a serious notion that there is a difference.

I’m sceptical but see what you make of the following.

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Why do floppy-eared dogs seem friendlier?

Many people think they seem nicer than those with pointy ears.

By MARY JO DILONARDO

January 4, 2019

Charles Darwin thought there was a link between floppy ears and domestication. (Photo: Renee Heetfeld/Shutterstock)

You see a German shepherd and a golden retriever at a park. Which one do you want to pet?

A lot of people might perceive the German shepherd — with its pointy, upright ears — as a little more off-putting and maybe even scary. But the floppy-eared retriever seems friendly and sweet and just asking for a cuddle.

We all make judgments about dogs (and people, for that matter) based on certain characteristics. In dogs, one of those things is the shape of their ears.

Recently, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been using more floppy-eared dogs to sniff out explosives because the agency says pointy-ear dogs are scarier.

“We’ve made a conscious effort in TSA … to use floppy ear dogs,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske told the Washington Examiner. “We find the passenger acceptance of floppy ear dogs is just better. It presents just a little bit less of a concern. Doesn’t scare children.”

Around 80 percent of the 1,200 canines the agency uses in the U.S. have droopy ears, according to the TSA. The agency uses seven types of dogs: five with droopy ears (Labrador retrievers, German short-haired pointers, wire-haired pointers, vizslas and golden retrievers) and two with pointy ears (German shepherds and Belgian Malinois).

But even though the dogs are friendly looking, they still have a job to do. Floppy-eared or not, they aren’t to be approached when they’re on duty, says the TSA.

A look at the science.

Charles Darwin thought a lot about ears when considering evolution, as the NPR video above explains in more detail.

“Our domesticated quadrupeds are all descended, as far as is known, from species having erect ears,” Darwin pointed out in “The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication.” “Cats in China, horses in parts of Russia, sheep in Italy and elsewhere, the guinea-pig in Germany, goats and cattle in India, rabbits, pigs and dogs in all long-civilized countries.”

In many species, ears seemed to flop when they no longer needed to be erect to catch every passing sound, Darwin mused. He called the phenomenon domestication syndrome.

More recently, in a 2013 study, Suzanne Baker of James Madison University in Virginia and Jamie Fratkin of University of Texas at Austin showed 124 participants images of a dog. In one, it was the identical dog, but it had a yellow coat in one photo and a black coat in another. The other photos showed the same dog but in one image it had floppy ears and in the other it had pointed ears.

Participants found the dogs with a yellow coat or floppy ears to be more agreeable and emotionally stable than the dogs with a black coat or prick ears.

But why the bias?

Pointy-eared German shepherds are often associated with working K-9s. (Photo: John Roman Images/Shutterstock)

Although there are plenty of people who love pointy-ear pups, why are so many wary of them? There are no studies that show prick-eared dogs are less friendly than their floppy-eared counterparts, says Elinor K. Karlsson, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT and founder of Darwin’s Ark, a citizen’s science project centering around genetics and pets.

Instead, it’s likely that people base their opinions on past experiences they’ve had with dogs.

“If people do perceive floppy eared dogs as being ‘friendlier looking,’ it could be just because dogs they’ve known personally are more likely to be floppy eared,” Karlsson tells MNN, pointing out that Labrador retrievers, the most common breed in the U.S., have floppy ears.

In addition, many of the working police and military dogs people meet are breeds such as German shepherds and Belgian Malinois, which tend to have erect ears. So people may associate the ears with the working dogs which are in protector, not friendly, roles.

Karlsson says this kind of “perception bias” can affect how people see and interact with dogs, which is why she’s very interested it this theme in her research.

“People do have a habit of assigning characteristics to things based on general groupings,” she says. “People do this to humans as well. It’s the way ours brains work.”

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 I’m still not convinced but it makes a lovely story and one that I wanted to share with you.

Now there’s delivery, and there’s delivery!

The Belgian Malinois gets delivered in real style.

There was a time in the past when I considered myself quite the Private Pilot. This was back in the UK long before I left in 2008. I still look up at the sky when a light aircraft goes by but have made the decision to ‘hang up my headphones’.

Back in the days when I was an active pilot I never had the opportunity to take a dog with me. Or rather I should say that I got close to taking Pharaoh up in the Piper Super Cub but, in the end, limited myself to taxing around the grass airfield.

Pharaoh riding the back of the Piper Super Cub

All of which is an introduction to a post from Mary Jo.

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Kodak the dog had a rough start, but it’s all blue skies from here

Belgian Malinois delivered to veteran’s family via private plane.

By MARY JO DILONARDO   December 12, 2018.

Kodak checks out Pilots N Paws volunteer pilot Rob Lucas during their flight to Tennessee. (Photo: Big Cypress German Shepherd Rescue)

When Kodak arrived at Big Cypress German Shepherd Rescue in Naples, Florida, in late November, the Belgian Malinois mix had been picked up as a stray by a nearby shelter. The gorgeous, blue-eyed boy was jumping and barking constantly.

“To any person unfamiliar with this breed, it can easily be looked at as aggression or fearfulness,” Shirley Lubo, the outreach coordinator for Big Cypress, tells MNN. “He was a ball of energy and excitement that just really wanted to be out of the shelter environment. He was pretty skinny and in desperate need of some TLC. We agreed that his striking looks would draw the wrong attention, and that he needed to go to a Malinois-experienced home.”

Volunteers took care of the sweet 2-year-old, working with him on basic manners while searching for a home with someone who had experience with this sometimes-challenging breed.
Afghanistan veteran Joe Bane heard about Kodak from a friend he knew in the Army. Bane was a K-9 contractor who now lives in Morristown, Tennessee, with three Malinois and a Dutch shepherd. His 17-year-old daughter, Syd, fell in love with Kodak when she saw him online.

“I’m very well versed in the breed,” Bane tells MNN. “My daughter was determined to save him.”

Syd Bane smiles with Kodak as he arrives in Tennessee, just off the plane from Florida. (Photo: Joe Bane)

Bane applied for Kodak and with the help of a village of volunteers, Kodak made the trek from Florida to Tennessee. The pup made the trip courtesy of Pilots N Paws, a volunteer group that flew him to his destination.

“We knew there was no one better suited to take Kodak. He has handled countless Belgian Malinois as both working dogs and pets. Joe thoroughly understands the breed,” Lubo says.

“After many, many phone calls over the last couple weeks and emails to coordinate flight plans, vet visits, transportation, etc. we were able to connect with Pilots N Paws, Ryan Fiorini, Rob Lucas, and so many others that stepped up to make this all possible. It is by far one of the most wonderful things we have ever done, and we are all so ecstatic about finding the most perfect home for Kodak.”

When Kodak arrived, the Banes were there at the airport waiting for him, eager to meet their newest family member.

“Syd was so excited. I knew we did the right thing. We helped save him,” Bane says.

Kodak sleeps soundly in his new home. (Photo: Joe Bane)

It’s only been a few days and Kodak is slowly adapting to his new life. At 80 pounds, he’s still underweight, but getting healthier.

“He is coming out of his shell,” Bane says. “He slept with my daughter last night. He’s finally allowed to be a dog.”

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Well done all concerned. Especially Kodak!

Saturday Smile!

Take a dog to bed!

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For some women, a dog in the bed is so much better than a human

By MARY JO DILONARDO   November 28, 2018,

Women who sleep with dogs also tend to go to bed and wake up earlier. (Photo: Rasulov/Shutterstock)

Some nights, it’s easier to sleep well when you have company — but the nature of that company can make a difference.

A new study finds that some women sleep more soundly if they share the bed with a dog instead of another person. Researchers from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, collected online survey data from 962 adult women in the United States. Their work was published in the journal Anthrozoös.

Of the participants, 55 percent shared their bed with at least one dog and 31 percent with at least one cat. In addition, 57 percent slept with a human partner. (There were likely women who slept with pets and people, but that wasn’t detailed in the study.)

The researchers found that sleeping in the same bed with their dogs led women to a better night’s rest than sleeping with a cat or with another person.

“Compared with human bed partners, dogs who slept in the owner’s bed were perceived to disturb sleep less and were associated with stronger feelings of comfort and security,” the study abstract reads. “Conversely, cats who slept in their owner’s bed were reported to be equally as disruptive as human partners, and were associated with weaker feelings of comfort and security than both human and dog bed partners.”

The study also found that dog owners typically went to bed and got up earlier than people who had cats, but no dogs.

The study’s authors say more research is needed to see if pet owners’ perceptions of how their furry friends impact their sleep actually line up with objective measures of sleep quality. But as far as they’re concerned, dog owners think their pets are helping them sleep, so that’s why they’re welcome in the bed.

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What a lovely tale! Taken from here.

This is what dogs are all about!

A truly beautiful blog post.

I’m still struggling with WordPress but wanted to post the following rather than delay it.

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How a dog named Maybe saved the day

Not every happy-ending rescue story starts with love at first sight.

 By JO DILONARDO   October 29, 2018

Maybe Jade poses with her new family the day she was adopted. (Photo: Kerrieann Axt/KGA Photography)

Just a few months ago, Kerrieann Axt began searching for a puppy. The family dog was 16 years old and her three kids were itching to have a playful four-legged friend.

“I was looking at rescue dogs under the radar,” Axt tells MNN. She didn’t tell the kids, but each time she found a dog she liked, she would show her husband, Michael, who would just say no. That is, until she found a cute little waggly-tail boxer/hound/Lab mix going by the name of Twinkie.

“I showed him a picture of Twinkie and he said, well, maybe, and she kind of became the maybe baby,” she says. “I told the kids maybe we’ll go look at this one dog, but it’s just a maybe right now. We just don’t know if she’ll like us or if we’ll like her.”

They met her and then she met their other dog, Jackson Cade, and everyone got along just fine. So she moved to their Sandy Springs, Georgia, home.

“When she got here and she was staying, we thought now her name has to be Maybe,” Axt says.

Maybe’s middle name is Jade, a mashup of their other dog’s two names. Sometimes they call her MJ, but she is always the Maybe dog.

And that’s how it went for a while.

Not a snuggly pup, but a super-smart one

Eliot (left) and Townesend (right) work on Maybe’s training. (Photo: Kerrieann Axt/KGA Photography)

Maybe went to live with the excited Axt family in early July, but early on she wasn’t exactly the puppy the kids hoped for. Ten-year-old twins Owen and Eliot and 8-year-old Townesend wanted to hold and snuggle their new little girl. But Maybe wasn’t having it.

“She is very independent and very smart,” says Axt. She’s around you sometimes, but is perfectly content to go hang out on her bed and have some alone time.

The kids knew she was a wonderful dog, but they were somewhat disappointed, which prompted some family discussions. They knew this would be the one puppy their kids would grow up with, and they wanted it to be a great experience for everyone.

“We went back and forth, wondering if this is the right dog for us,” Axt says.

Axt talked to the puppy’s foster mom who was very supportive and was willing to take Maybe back, knowing she’d quickly get adopted again.

“She just wasn’t what we had in our heads of what a puppy was going to be,” Axt says. “But we said to the kids, we committed and she likes her life here. We are going to stick with her.”

So they started going to training classes as a family and even hired a trainer to come to the house. They found out Maybe couldn’t learn things fast enough. People couldn’t believe how smart she was and how much she loved mastering new tricks. The kids now read books on dog training and spend time every day teaching her new things and working with her on all the tricks she has already learned.

Maybe’s still not much of a snuggler, but the family loves working with her and this smart puppy enjoys all the attention. “That’s how we all show love to each other,” Axt says.

Maybe saves the day

When Maybe rang the bells to signal she had to go outside, Owen was smart enough to check why she was barking so much. (Photo: Kerrieann Axt/KGA Photography)

One of Maybe’s many talents is ringing bells on the back door when she needs to go potty. She did that one evening when Axt was getting Townesend ready for bed, so she asked Owen to let the puppy out.

He let her outside and Maybe — who rarely barks — started barking at the yard next door. A frustrated Owen tried to coax the puppy back inside, but she wouldn’t budge. Owen knew it must be important if the mostly silent pup was so insistent, so he checked and saw the neighbors’ yard in flames. It was a large fire, almost in a perfect circle like a massive fire pit, prompting him to call his mom.

When his mom went downstairs to look, she realized there was nothing intentional about the blaze. She texted her neighbor, who didn’t respond. Then when she saw a tree go up in flames, she called 911.

“It was very big. It was the start of a forest fire and trees were going up,” Axt says. “It was amazing how fast it moves when you’re watching something like that.”

The neighbor quickly replied. She had been tucking her kids in bed and was surprised when she heard Maybe’s unusual bark. But she didn’t realize there was a blaze in her backyard. Within a few minutes the firetruck arrived.

“Once they were there, Maybe rang the bells again,” Axt says. “I put her on a leash and I walked her out. She just went out very calmly, wagged her tail, looked at the firemen, sat down and never barked. It was as if she knew, ‘We’re going to be OK.'”

The kids are so excited about Maybe’s heroics, Axt says. They are convinced that someone from the fire department is going to come to their house and award Maybe a medal of honor.

At least the 6-month-old rescue pup did get a really good chewy that night and probably put up with a lot of hugs from the proud family. In the end, everyone knew that Maybe — for sure — was the perfect dog for them.

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There is no doubt about it Maybe is the perfect dog for this family.

Oh, P.S. – Welcome to November.

Bet they are wrong!

It seems to me, that although the science is good it can’t be perfect!

I saw this recently and, ….. well you decide!

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Dogs may not be as exceptionally smart as we think they are

Mary Jo DiLonardo

MARY JO DILONARDO

October 3rd, 2018.

Dogs have a scientific reputation for being rather brainy, but a new study says that may not be deserved. (Photo: Shevs/Shutterstock)

I know I’m biased, but I think my dog is brilliant. I’ve been bringing home animals all my life — from parakeets to ducks, cats to horses. But of all my feathered and furry pets, it’s no contest: Dogs are by far the brainiest. They are quick learners and great communicators with an incredible ability to solve problems.

But a new paper in the journal Learning & Behavior finds dog intelligence is “not exceptional.”

Although animal smarts have long been the subject of scientific research, recently there’s been a lot of focus on canine cognition. And that’s what triggered Stephen Lea, professor emeritus at the University of Exeter, to take a closer look. He was editor of the journal Animal Behavior, where he saw so many papers dealing with the mental abilities of dogs.

“Through the process of working as an editor [and] seeing all this research, I definitely got a sense that we as a collective had gotten a bit overexcited about dog intelligence,” Lea told Popular Science.

History of studying dog smarts

Dogs can learn problem solving, but raccoons often solve puzzles more easily. (Photo: Joerg Huettenhoelscher/Shutterstock)

Dogs and their brains have been studied for centuries (remember Pavlov and his bell?), but then were pushed aside for more popular studies with primates and other species. It wasn’t until the 1990s when dogs came back into focus. Lea wondered whether humans were giving dogs too much credit.

Lea and his coauthor, Britta Osthaus of Canterbury Christ Church University, studied more than 300 papers on the intelligence of dogs and other animals. They looked at research that covered three groups: carnivorans (another name for carnivores), social hunters and domesticated animals. Dogs fall into all three groups.

They discovered that when it comes to brainpower, dogs don’t particularly excel in any of the groups. There were species in each that were on par with or better than dogs in cognition comparisons. Raccoons, for example, seem to solve puzzles more easily, and hyenas seem to follow the cues of their pack more handily.

“Taking all three groups (domestic animals, social hunters and carnivorans) into account, dog cognition does not look exceptional,” said Osthaus in a statement. “We are doing dogs no favor by expecting too much of them. Dogs are dogs, and we need to take their needs and true abilities into account when considering how we treat them.”

Dogs do, however, stand out from their smart counterparts because they perform well in all three categories.

“Every species has unique intelligence,” Lea told Popular Science. “Their intelligence is what you would expect of an animal that is … recently descended from social hunters … that are carnivores and that have [also] been domesticated …There’s no other animal that fits all three of those criteria.”

Sounds pretty brilliant to me.

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It seems to me that science it taking far to narrow a look at our dogs.

For if one expands the range of qualities then one can include:

  • Unconditional love,
  • Companionship,
  • Sensitivity,
  • Consciousness,
  • Spirituality,
  • Bravery,
  • and a whole lot more besides.

Brushing one’s teeth!

A delightful post, and one that had an edge to it.

Brushing one’s teeth is hard enough for us to do, let alone our dogs.

No more from me than to reproduce this item which is a republication of a post that appeared in The Conversation site.

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Why is it such a pain to brush a dog’s teeth?

This ‘magic stick’ claims to provide a solution to the problem.

by MARY JO DILONARDO

August 11, 2018
It’s a toy and a toothbrush rolled into one. (Photo: Bristly)

You eye each other across the room. You’re using your sweetest, most coaxing voice, but behind your back you have a toothbrush covered in chicken-flavored paste. Your pet eyes you warily, knowing something is up. Those teeth haven’t been pearly in a very long time, but it’s not for a lack of trying.

About 80 percent of dogs will have some periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old. In addition to dental checkups by your vet, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends regularly brushing your dog’s teeth as “the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy.” It may even eliminate the need for occasional dental cleanings by your veterinarian.

In addition (or in place of cleaning, if your dog isn’t a fan), you may have also tried dental chews or dental toys. The hope is that by gnawing on these items, your pet will scrub off the tartar and plaque buildup all by himself.

Personally, I’ve tried them all. My beautiful boy, Brodie, has breath that will make your eyes water. We’ve worked very hard on brushing. Normally he acts like I’m going to torture him when I persuade him to sit in the bathroom for a dental session. He either clamps down on the bristles as hard as he can or performs impressive gymnastics trying to evade my grasp. A few teeth get lightly grazed in the process.

The dental chews are equally unsuccessful. My pup doesn’t understand that he’s supposed to be taking his time with them. Instead, he manages to gulp them down (even frozen) which, I’m pretty sure, defeats the purpose of the exercise.

My friend has offered to scrape Brodie’s teeth with a dental tartar scraper he bought online (and uses on his well-behaved dogs), but I’m pretty sure my anxious boy would never recover.

A glimmer of green hope

If only it were this easy. (Photo: KPG Payless2/Shutterstock

There may be a solution. Years ago, Petros Dertsakyan lost his childhood Pomeranian to dental disease. As an adult and the father of two dogs of his own, Dertsakyan knows the importance of dental care but also knows first-hand the struggles of taking care of a dog’s teeth.

He decided to come up with a solution and, after lots of prototypes and testing, he developed what he calls Bristly, a “magic” toothbrushing stick that dogs hold down with their paws while gnawing on rows of flavored bristles. There’s also a reservoir to dispense toothpaste during the whole process.

Dertsakyan put his invention on Kickstarter, hoping to raise $15,000 to fund his project. He way underestimated how much people want to avoid getting anywhere near their dogs’ teeth. Just hours before the campaign ended, more than $437,000 had been raised from more than 10,000 backers. The products are scheduled to be shipped in October.

Here’s the Bristly in action. I know my dog has high hopes it will work.

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I love these dogs!

Saturday Smile

Another great news item about our wonderful wildlife.

This update about the Tiger population in Nepal was read on Mother Nature Network yesterday. Coming so soon after the positive news about the wolf population once again I wanted to share it with you!

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Tiger population rebounds, nearly doubling in Nepal

By Mary Jo Dilonardo, September 26th, 2018.

Photo: Amy Fitzmaurice/Living with Tigers

The number of wild tigers in Nepal has nearly doubled over the past nine years as a result of conservation efforts. A survey carried out earlier this year found 235 tigers in Nepal, up from just 121 in 2009.

To count the tigers, conservationists and wildlife experts used more than 4,000 cameras, traveling a 2,700-kilometer (1,700-mile) route across Nepal’s southern plains where most of the big cats are found.

“This is a result of concentrated unified efforts by the government along with the local community and other stakeholders to protect the tiger’s habitat and fight against poaching,” Man Bahadur Khadka, director general of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, told AFP.

Nepal and a dozen other countries signed the 2010 Tiger Conservation Plan, pledging to double their tiger populations by 2022. Since then, the tiger population — which has been decimated by deforestation, loss of habitat and poaching — has begun to show positive changes. The World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum announced in 2016 that the wild tiger population had grown for the first time in more than 100 years, according to AFP.

Co-existing in harmony

A tiger comes in for a close-up, thanks to a camera trap in Bardia National Park in Nepal. (Photo: Amy Fitzmaurice/Living with Tigers)

Although this news is obviously heartening, there’s a challenge that comes hand in hand with the growth: making sure people and tigers co-exist safely. A team of conservation scientists from the Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom is working with groups such as Green Governance Nepal to reduce conflict between tigers and residents.

The Living with Tigers project uses methods such as predator-proof livestock pens and changes in livestock management practices to help lessen the risk of tiger attacks on livestock and people.

“It is wonderful news for the entire conservation community around the globe and it demonstrates that ambitious conservation goals can be achieved when governments, conservation partners and local communities work together,” said Kiran Timalsina, chairperson of Green Governance Nepal.

“It also highlights the need for more concentrated efforts particularly focusing on human-tiger conflict mitigation to bring about conditions where tigers and the local communities with whom they share the landscape could coexist.”

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Don’t know about you but I feel I can handle a great deal of bad stuff about these present times so long as news items such as this come along on a regular basis!

Let’s not forget our animals!

Hurricane Florence is no picnic.

Here’s the latest headline regarding this significant hurricane taken from the BBC News website at 14:30 yesterday afternoon.

US East Coast residents are running out of time to flee before Hurricane Florence hits the region as soon as Thursday evening, officials warn.
The storm was downgraded to category three with maximum sustained winds of 120mph (195km/h), but officials say it is still “extremely dangerous”.
Up to 1.7 million people have been ordered to evacuate across South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

All our thoughts are especially extended for the thousands of cats and dogs, and many other species I don’t doubt.

So it seemed especially timely and appropriate to republish a recent item that appeared on Mother Nature News.

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Helping pets in Hurricane Florence’s path

How rescue groups and shelters are staying ahead of the big storm.

Mary Jo DiLonardo
MARY JO DILONARDO
September 11, 2018
Button is one of dozens of animals rescued by the Greenville Humane Society from shelters along the South Carolina coast. (Photo: Greenville Humane Society)

When people are in the path of a massive storm, they prepare their homes as best they can and get out of its way. For pets and strays, the situation is more complicated.

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the Carolina coast, many in the animal community are already helping get these animals out of harm’s way. Shelters and rescue groups hundreds of miles away are taking in animals from shelters that are directly in the storm’s path. Fosters and adopters are stepping up to take local animals so there’s room for more dogs and cats affected by the hurricane. Others are sending donations.

As of early Tuesday, the Greenville Humane Society in South Carolina had already accepted 40 dogs and cats from coastal Carolina shelters and they are expecting another transport of 20 to 30 more by the end of the day, Julia Brunelle, social media and marketing manager for the humane society, tells MNN.

“We don’t know, in the coming weeks, how many more we’ll be taking in; it depends on the path of storm,” she says. “We expect a heavy influx at the end of the weekend and early next week.”

All three of the humane society’s buildings are at capacity with about 15 overflow animals housed in wire crates. They’ve lowered adoption rates, hoping to encourage people to take home current residents to free up room for animals that will be displaced by the storm.

“A lot of people are always waiting for the right time to adopt,” Brunelle says. “Now is the right time for the animals and when it is the most needed and when you’re going to do the most good.”

A van filled with animals arrives in Greenville from coastal Carolina shelters. (Photo: Greenville Humane Society)

At the Pender County Animal Shelter in Burgaw, North Carolina, they’re hoping to empty the shelter to make room for animals in need. As a result, all adoptions are free.

“After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, we took in over 100 animals at this shelter. We only have 100 kennels total, so being empty pre-storm helps us have space for the post-event response because we cannot turn animals away,” shelter manager Jewell Horton tells MNN. “If we hit capacity we have to euthanize for space, which we do not want to do!”

The shelter has already had calls for more than 50 dogs and cats that they are trying to help get out of the hurricane’s path; they’ve also taken in three miniature horses already. Shelter workers are picking up a pony and goats that were flooded out during Hurricane Matthew, knowing they won’t make it through this storm either.

Making Long-term plans

The Atlanta Humane Society took in 35 dogs and cats from Carolina shelters. (Photo: Atlanta Humane Society)

So far, some animals have traveled as far away as Atlanta. The Atlanta Humane Society has already picked up 35 dogs and cats that were in shelters in the path of Hurricane Florence. A week ago, they took in 35 animals that were in the path of Tropical Storm Gordon. If past storm history is any indication, they’ll likely take in many more.

Teams from Best Friends Animal Society are also on the ground, working to move animals from shelters in harm’s way to less-crowded facilities that are out of the hurricane’s expected reach. The group is also looking at the long-term picture, realizing what rescue efforts will be needed long after the storm is passed, says Kenny Lamberti, Best Friends Southeastern regional director.

“We learned a lot post (Hurricane) Irma and Harvey and even as far back as Katrina,” Lamberti tells MNN. “A lot of people and a lot of animals get stuck. We’re creating temporary shelter situations, hoping we don’t need them, but you never know.”

These shelters will house dogs and cats for an extended period of time until they hopefully can be reunited with their families.

How you can help!

A Best Friends team transports animals during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo: Erica Danger/Best Friends Animal Society)

If you want to assist animals displaced by the storm, there are plenty of things you can do. Rescue groups and shelters suggest monetary donations, first and foremost. That way they can buy what they need and don’t have to worry about storage, especially if shelters are damaged by the storm. Many shelters and rescue groups also have online wish lists.

There is at least one Facebook group where people can post what they need or the specific ways they are able to help, with offers of transport, fostering, supplies or anything else that might come up once the storm hits.

If your local shelter is making room for hurricane-displaced animals, you may want to consider adopting or fostering so they can make space in their kennels for more animals in need.

Pender County’s Horton points out that all sorts of help is needed, from adoptions to donations.

“We need animals out,” she says. “Donations will be hugely needed for post event care, especially for caring for the animals after the storm.”

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I know that all of you will side with Jeannie and me when we say that our hearts go out to these animals.

If any of you come across rescue groups and shelters who are seeking donations then do let me know. For I will publish the details here on Learning from Dogs.

Learning about our smaller dogs!

Learning about the way they pee!

We have two smaller dogs in our family, Sweeny and Pedy.

Gorgeous Sweeny!

And equally gorgeous Pedy alongside his mate, Brandy, just visible bottom left.

I am sure many of you have dogs that are smaller then the average dog; whatever that means!

So the article that was published, once again on Mother Nature Network, will strike a chord!

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Why small dogs aim high when they pee?


MARY JO DILONARDO   August 3, 2018.

The phrase ‘aim high’ takes on new meaning when you’re talking about dogs. (Photo: Sukpaiboonwat/Shutterstock)

Take your dog for a walk and you might notice that there’s some urinating involved. The tree. The lamp post. The fire hydrant. This scent marking is a way for your dog to communicate to other canine passers-by.

By sharing and sniffing, dogs are able to get information about sex, reproductive status and the identity of other four-footed visitors who have traveled the same path. Although female dogs do it too, this frequent marking is often done by male pups.

Typically the marking communicates true information about the marker; it’s what researchers refer to as an “honest signal.” When another dog comes along and takes a sniff, the info they get in the message is true.

But new data suggests that in some circumstances, dogs tell little white lies when they lift a leg. Researchers found that little dogs tend to hike high in order to give the impression that they’re bigger than they really are.

Betty McGuire and her team at Cornell University studied this “dishonest signal.” They noticed that smaller dogs tend to urinate more often than larger dogs, and they’re more likely to aim higher when focusing on vertically oriented targets.

In their study published in the Journal of Zoology, they wrote, “Assuming body size is a proxy for competitive ability, small adult male dogs may place urine marks higher, relative to their own body size, than larger adult male dogs to exaggerate their competitive ability.”

Indirect interaction

As anyone who owns a smaller dog knows, size is just a state of mind. (Photo: Little Moon/Shutterstock)

The researchers recorded adult male dogs while they urinated on walks, then calculated the angle of their legs when raised during marking. They compared those calculations to the dogs’ height and mass and measured the height of the urine marks on the dogs’ chosen targets.

“Small males seemed to make an extra effort to raise their leg high—some small males would almost topple over,” McGuire tells New Scientist. “So, we wondered whether small males try to exaggerate their body size by leaving high urine marks.”

As expected, when the dogs lifted a leg at a greater angle, they hit higher on a surface. But they found that small dogs angled the leg proportionately higher than larger dogs, resulting in marking higher than expected for their small stature. The researchers said it’s likely the goal is to deceive other male dogs.

“Direct social interactions with other dogs may be particularly risky for small dogs,” says McGuire.

Because they can’t measure up physically with larger dogs, smaller dogs can establish a virtually larger presence this way.

So they aim high to look big.

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“So they aim high to look big.”

I’m sure there must be a joke somewhere there but can’t find it!!

So closing with another two pics of our little ones.

Pedy

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Pedy in front of Sweeny. Picture taken October, 2016.