When two young black-tailed deer wandered onto a construction site in 2016, they probably didn’t realize how dangerously muddy the ground had become. They both got stuck in the mud, a predicament that could have easily been fatal — if an observant worker at the site hadn’t noticed them and swung into action.
“I wouldn’t have seen them if they hadn’t moved and caught my eye!” wrote Bill Davis, a native of Tacoma, Washington, who was checking on the property for his employer.
When he realized the two yearling deer were stuck, he “orchestrated a rescue operation with his cellphone,” his son-in-law told GrindTV, by contacting a skilled excavator operator who might be able to pluck the helpless deer out of the mud.
Using an uncannily light touch for such a powerful piece of machinery, the operator managed to rescue both deer from the mud. Davis posted one of the rescues in the video above; the actual scooping up of the deer starts at about the 2:30 point.
Of course, it might have been even better for these deer if the property was still forest, not a muddy construction site, and it’s worth noting that habitat loss is one of the main problems facing wildlife around the world. But that was a moot point by the time these deer got stuck, and since Davis couldn’t return their lost patch of habitat, he did the next best thing by making sure they survived this ordeal.
Plus, as Earth Touch News points out, these deer were thought to be yearlings at the time, so they may have already been old enough to rebound afterward.
Davis wasn’t taking any chances, though. “Didn’t sleep much last night [after the rescue],” he wrote on Facebook. “[A]ll I could think about was those little guys getting stuck again, and not finding mama! I’m out there looking to make sure the babies didn’t come back to the mud! No sign of them.”
“It is a time for kindness, love, community and human spirit to connect with nature.”
It’s beyond imagination as to what it must be like in Houston just now!
By writing that sub-heading I am, of course, revealing the fact that Jeannie and I are living a long way from Texas.
But that doesn’t stop our hearts going out to the poor animals who are in the middle of this disaster. Maybe also that doesn’t stop many from extending a helping hand. Here’s how that might be achieved. In that I am republishing an article that appeared on Mother Nature Network on Tuesday.
How to help pets after a disaster
After Hurricane Harvey’s rain and flooding, many animals are expected to be without homes.
Mary Jo DiLonardo, August 29, 2017.
After Hurricane Harvey battered Texas and Louisiana, residents are rushing to recover yet facing catastrophic rain, flooding and evacuations. While many residents headed for safety with their pets in tow, plenty of animals either escaped or were left behind. Animal rescue and shelter administrators say it’s still too early to estimate how many animals are struggling to find their way home.
Shelters in nearby areas unaffected by the storm took in animals from evacuated facilities. The Humane Society of North Texas, for example, made room for 22 animals from a shelter in Corpus Christi that had to shut down.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a disaster response team on the ground offering search and rescue, sheltering and relocation services for animals displaced by the storm.
The ASPCA reports, “Emergency response agencies are receiving a high number of requests for animal-related rescue, and are conducting responsible assessments to determine where resources can be utilized most effectively. The ASPCA stands ready to assist where our resources can have the most impact in saving lives and helping to reunite pets with their families. Residents who need assistance with recovering a pet from their home or emergency sheltering for their pets are encouraged to contact their local emergency management agency.”
With so much of the storm’s impact in the Houston area, the Houston SPCA has become a central hub for animal-related needs. Because the storm is still pounding, the SPCA is unsure how strong its impact will be on the area pet population, but the group is fielding offers from individuals and rescue groups willing to donate or transport and foster displaced animals. While needs are still being assessed, one way to help is through direct donations.
How to help animals in any emergency
After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, an estimated 15,000 pets were rescued by the New Orleans SPCA, as volunteers scooped cats and dogs off rooftops, out of the water and from flooded streets, reports CNN. However, a whopping 90,000 area pets were never accounted for with some sources saying an estimated 600,000 dogs and cats were displaced or died as a result of the storm.
As animal lovers all over the country saw images of abandoned pets, they wanted to help. People sent money and rescue groups transported unclaimed pets to shelters and new homes. Those are some of the things you can do to help when disaster strikes.
Donate money. Teams from the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States head to areas after disasters to help with transport, rescue and other needs. Donate to them directly, or go online to find shelters directly impacted by the event.
Contact local shelters to see what they need. Some might want local volunteers or item donations, while others may prefer monetary aid. Rescue groups outside the area can contact individual shelters or other local rescue groups to see if there are pets ready to be taken to new homes. Early on, there will likely be temporary shelters set up in hopes that some animals may be claimed by their owners, so rescue groups might not be needed right away.
Be willing to foster. After large disasters, shelters brace for a high volume of new animals. Some shelters might be looking for short-term fosters to care for the animals that were already in their care before the storm hit or to take care of owned pets while the families recover from damage and get back on their feet.
How to protect your pet:
Looking ahead, there are things you can to do be prepared with your pet before disaster strikes, says the ASPCA:
Microchip your pets. Collars and tags can get lost, but it’s easier for rescue workers to help pets reunite with their owners if they are chipped and the information is updated.
Have a go-bag for your pet. Have it packed with leashes, medical info, food, water and anything else your pet needs and keep it by the door.
Download the ASPCA’s free mobile app for your smartphone. It stores your pet’s records and offers tips on what to do if you get separated from your pet.
If you have to evacuate, take your pet with you. Some emergency shelters allow pets. In 2006, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act, which authorized FEMA to rescue, care, shelter and take care of people with pets and service animals. About 44 percent of the people who didn’t evacuate during Katrina stayed because they didn’t want to leave their pets behind, according to a report by the Fritz Institute.
Now read the text that accompanied that photograph.
Dog carrying bag of food turns out to be the hero Texas needed In times like these, even ordinary creatures do extraordinary things.
In troubled times, we all look to heroes to step up and lead us from a dark place to one of hope. And in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which battered and then flooded much of southeast Texas over the weekend, we didn’t have to wait long. Countless everyday Texans have risked their own lives to haul people and pets out of the affected areas.
But Otis may be the unlikeliest hero of all.
After all, he wasn’t exactly leaping into the breach when Tiele Dockens snapped this picture over the weekend. Nor was the golden retriever hauling anyone out of danger.
Instead, Otis was carrying cargo that was precious mostly to him: a big bag of dog food. And he was just trying to get it home.
But there was something about that picture — a humble family pet clinging tightly to his one precious possession, despite the chaos all around. A new survival icon emerges
Since Dockens posted the image on Facebook — a photo snapped while she was taking stock of the flood-wracked city of Sinton — the post has been shared more than 35,000 times.
“We are a population of about 6,000,” Dockens told the Weather Channel. “We were out today clearing tree limbs from streets. Families are already starting to clean up. Our town is still out of water and power. I was driving around checking on family and friends’ properties that decided to evacuate.”
Then she spotted Otis.
“With his dog food of course,” Dockens added.
It turned out, the man taking care of Otis, who belonged to his grandson, had been looking for the furry refugee who had slipped out of a screened-in back porch on Friday night.
“I kept yelling his name and yelling his name and he wasn’t around,” Segovia told the Houston Chronicle.
Amid devastating floods, with countless family pets already missing, the situation could have taken a dark turn. But not long after he was photographed high-tailing it down a city street, Otis found his way back home.
And, along the way, into the hearts of millions.
Sure, images of ordinary people doing extraordinary things can be a powerful cure for despair. And right now, Texas needs all the heroes it can get.
But sometimes, we need a simple reminder from our four-legged friends that they are in this mess, too. They’re trying to get by one way or another. And if that happens to involve looting — err, retrieving — a bag of food, then this is a survivor’s tale worth cheering for.
Please, please if there is anything that you can do to help alleviate what the animals are experiencing please do so.
The day on a farm starts so early that it’s easy to imagine that you’d get worn out pretty quickly. Unless you happen to be a border collie.
This border collie either paced itself all day, consumed an energy drink (kidding … please do not let your dog consume an energy drink) or just started its day, but the dog is so very pumped to spread some hay. The dog’s farmer companion can’t even keep up with the pup! The hay is barely on the pitchfork before the border collie has yanked it off the truck and shaken it around the ground.
This seems like an efficient way to spread hay, too. The border collie gets to expend some energy, the human just has to stand on the bed of a truck and the hay goes exactly where it needs to. After this, maybe they go and sit on the porch and admire their hard work. Or they go and herd sheep. Seeing the energy level of this dog, it’s probably sheep herding.
When Jeneanne Lock was undergoing treatment for stage 4 breast cancer and stage 1 thyroid cancer, she was determined to do everything she could to help herself — and her family — deal with the disease. She regularly saw therapy dogs come through the center during her treatment and their owners often told her of the advantages of four-legged therapy.
“They spoke of all the benefits of having a pet through and after treatment, how it was helpful to the patient, as well as the caregivers and other family members,” Lock says. “That’s why I was considering adopting an animal.”
Plus, it helped that her two kids were begging to get a dog. So they took a trip to the Best Friends Animal Society in Salt Lake City “just to look,” Lock says. “Of course we saw Stella and fell in love with her.”
The year-old black-and-white boxer mix was soon jumping in the car and heading home with them.
“She’s been a wonderful addition to our family,” Lock says. “For me, just the emotional and mental aspect of being a cancer patient, it was almost more challenging emotional and mentally then physically. But my oncologist said most if not all cancer patients experience anxiety or depression or both. I was aware of my own mental health through my cancer battle and wanted to do things that would promote maintaining mental health, so things like going for a walk with Stella really helped improve my mood.”
The sweet, caring pup seems to know how to act with each member of the family, Lock says. Stella is calm and comforting around Lock, yet playful with 9-year-old Ruby and 6-year-old Andres.
When they first brought Stella home, Lock was getting daily radiation after eight months of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy and still had several more surgeries to look forward to.
“The toll of all that, the cumulative effects, were I had a lot of fatigue and a lot of soreness in different parts of my body,” she says. “What I was doing medically to recover were things like going to physical therapy but being at home and having Stella to take walks with improved my mood and it also helped me build up energy and strength.”
But she wasn’t the only one that benefited.
“My children had some pretty traumatic experiences watching me,” Lock says. “I know Stella’s helped me, but I also know she’s helped my children.”
Lock is now cancer free, with both of her cancers in remission. She credits her rescue pet with helping her get through the experience.
“Our dog is so full of love and energy, she’s just been a great companion,” she says. “We love having Stella and we look forward to spending more years with her as part of our family.”
Watch their story here:
Uploaded on Jun 30, 2017
Jeneanne and her children adopted Stella from Best Friends Animal Society just as Jeneanne was completing a difficult health journey. What Stella brought to the family has been immeasurable. For more information on Best Friends and its many lifesaving programs, go to best friends.org.
Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. A leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country. Since its founding in 1984, Best Friends has helped reduce the number of animals killed in American shelters from 17 million per year to about 4 million. By continuing to build effective initiatives that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes, Best Friends and its nationwide network of members and partners are working to Save Them All®.
Welcome to August, a month defined by loud cicadas, pool parties, humidity and children fretting about an impending return to school. When it comes to celestial happenings, however, there is no larger star this month that our own moon. From a partial lunar eclipse to the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in almost a century, the moon will be the cause of most eyeballs drifting towards the heavens over the next several weeks.
Below is a small sampling of some of the night and day celestial events to look forward to this month. Wishing you all clear skies!
The rise of the full Sturgeon Moon (Aug. 7)
August’s full moon, nicknamed the Sturgeon Moon, will rise for the U.S. Eastern Seaboard on the evening of Aug. 7 at 8:05 p.m.
The Sturgeon Moon gets its name from the species of fish native to both Europe and the Americas that is easily caught this time of year. Other nicknames include the Corn Moon, Fruit Moon and Grain Moon. In countries experiencing winter, such as New Zealand, native Māori called this full moon “Here-turi-kōkā” or “the scorching effect of fire is seen on the knees of man.” This reference is to warm fires that glow during the Southern Hemisphere’s coldest month.
Partial lunar eclipse (Aug. 7 & 8)
As a kind of consolation prize for missing out on this month’s total solar eclipse over North America, those living on the continents of Africa, Asia and Australia will bear witness to a partial lunar eclipse. Spectators in Europe will catch the tail end of the eclipse as the moon rises around 7:10 p.m. on Aug. 7.
This phenomenon occurs between two to four times a year when the moon passes through a portion of the Earth’s shadow. Because the shadow cast is more than 5,700 miles wide, lunar eclipses last much longer than solar eclipses. In some instances, totality can occur for as long as 1 hour and 40 minutes. As a reference, maximum totality for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse will top out a mere 2 minutes and 42 seconds. The longest, at over 7 minutes, won’t take place until the year 2186.
This month’s partial lunar eclipse is the last of the year. Next year, total lunar eclipses will take place in January and July.
Perseid meteor shower (Aug. 12)
Regarded as one of the best celestial light shows of the year, the Perseid meteor shower occurs from July 17 to Aug. 24 and peaks on the evening of Aug. 12.
The shower, sometimes creating as many as 60 to 200 shooting stars per hour, is produced as Earth passes through debris left over from the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle. This 16-mile-wide periodic comet, which completes an orbit around the sun every 133 years, has been described as “the single most dangerous object known to humanity.” This is because every instance of its return to the inner solar system brings it ever closer to the Earth-moon system. Though astronomers believe the comet bears no threat for at least the next 2,000 years, future impacts cannot be ruled out.
If the comet were to hit Earth, scientists believe Swift-Tuttle would be at least 27 times more powerful than the asteroid or comet that wiped out the dinosaurs. For now, you can take in the beauty of the debris from this harbinger of doom by looking north towards the constellation Perseus. Because the moon will be three-quarters full, you’ll need to search out a nice dark sky to escape any light pollution from urban environments.
Total solar eclipses occur when the new moon moves between the Earth and the sun and casts its shadow on the planet. This shadow is comprised of two concentric cones –– the larger penumbra, which from Earth only shows the sun partially blocked, and the much smaller umbra, which blocks the sun completely. It is within this latter cone that totality will occur, giving spectators on the ground what’s considered by many to be a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.
The Great American Eclipse will actually first start out in the Pacific (at this point, it will actually, unbelievably rise while completely eclipsed!), making landfall on the Oregon community of Lincoln Beach at 10:16:01 a.m. (PDT). From there, the moon’s shadow will continue to race across the U.S. The point of greatest eclipse, where the axis of the moon’s shadow passes nearest to the center of Earth, will take place in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and last 2 minutes and 40.1 seconds. In celebration of the event, the town has temporarily renamed itself “Eclipseville,” and expects anywhere from 55,000 to 150,000 tourists to visit in advance of Aug. 21.
The next total solar eclipse over the U.S. will take place on April 8, 2024.
New moon (Aug. 21)
Fresh after wowing the U.S. during the day with its solar theatrics, August’s new moon will give way to dark skies for the next several nights. This is the perfect opportunity to grab a blanket and head outside into the still-warm summer evenings to enjoy the heavens in all their glory. With some remnants of the Perseids still visible, it will also offer a chance to catch some of the faintest shooting stars.
Look for Earth’s shadow (All year)
Ever wonder what causes the beautiful bands of color in the eastern sky at sunset or the western sky at sunrise? The dark blue band stretching 180 degrees along the horizon is actually the Earth’s shadow emanating some 870,000 miles into space. The golden-red portion, nicknamed the “Belt of Venus,” is Earth’s upper-atmosphere illuminated by the setting or rising sun.
Now that you know about this phenomenon, choose a night or morning sometime to try and pick it out. You’ll need a western or eastern horizon that’s fairly unobstructed to get a clear view of our planet’s huge curved shadow.
Looking ahead to September
As fall beckons, the biggest event next month will be the dramatic death dive of the Cassini spacecraft into Saturn. Taking place on Sept. 15, Cassini will make discoveries about Saturn right up until its fiery conclusion, with unprecedented photos and data captured and transmitted during its final moments.
It is going to be quite a month!
Oh, and for those of you that want to know the timings of the eclipse over North America there is a useful reference site here, from which I republish the following table.
Eclipse Start & End: Local Time for US States
The eclipse will begin over the Pacific Ocean at 15:46 UTC, which corresponds to 8:46 am Pacific Time. It will reach the coast of Oregon at Lincoln City, just west of Salem, at 9:04 am local time. The eclipse will reach its maximum point here at 10:17 am.
From here, the Moon’s central shadow will move inland. The following table shows when the Moon will begin to move in front of the Sun and the moment it completely covers the Sun, as seen from some locations along the central path of the eclipse. All times are local.
Yet another wonderful reason to grow old with a dog or two!
Despite the fact that we rarely take our dogs for a walk, in the full meaning of the word, they still receive much exercise. For the straightforward reason that we are fortunate to have sufficient room around the house for the dogs to take themselves for a walk.
So when I first read a recent essay on Mother Nature Network about the benefits of people walking their dogs as they age my first reaction was not to read it too carefully! Thankfully, the article supported the benefits of having dogs as we age whether or not they are taken for walks. Read it for yourself.
Dogs are the key to staying active as we age
People who walk their dogs tend to get more exercise, especially in winter, study finds.
It’s no surprise that people who walk their dogs tend to be more active overall than those who don’t have pets.
But a group of researchers from the U.K. wanted to delve deeper into the connection between dog walking and health, especially as people age.
More than 3,000 adults participated in the study. They were asked whether they owned or regularly walked a dog. Participants were outfitted with a device to constantly measure their physical activity over a seven-day period. On average, people who owned dogs were sedentary for 30 minutes less per day than those who didn’t have canine companions.
Because bad weather and the shorter days of winter are key reasons that many people don’t stay active outdoors, the researchers linked the activity data to weather conditions and daylight hours.
They found that on shorter days, as well as on days that were colder and wetter, all study participants spent less time being active and more time just sitting. Dog walkers, however, were much less affected by those inclement weather conditions. They were much more likely to get outside even if the weather wasn’t ideal. The study found that dog owners were 20 percent more active in bad weather than non-dog owners.
“We were amazed to find that dog walkers were on average more physically active and spent less time sitting on the coldest, wettest, and darkest days than non-dog owners were on long, sunny, and warm summer days,” said project lead Andy Jones from University of East Anglia’s Norwich School of Medicine.
Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers used data from a study that is tracking the well-being of thousands of residents of the English county of Norfolk.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night
“We know that physical activity levels decline as we age, but we’re less sure about the most effective things we can do to help people maintain their activity as they get older,” said lead author Yu-Tzu Wu from the University of Cambridge.
“We found that dog walkers were much more physically active and spent less time sitting overall. We expected this, but when we looked at how the amount of physical activity participants undertook each day varied by weather conditions, we were really surprised at the size of the differences between those who walked dogs and the rest of the study participants.”
The researchers said that perhaps their findings could inspire the development of successful programs to motivate people to be active.
“Physical activity interventions typically try and support people to be active by focusing on the benefits to themselves, but dog walking is also driven by the needs of the animal,” Jones points out. “Being driven by something other than our own needs might be a really potent motivator and we need to find ways of tapping into it when designing exercise interventions in the future.”
I loved the sentence above that explained: “On average, people who owned dogs were sedentary for 30 minutes less per day than those who didn’t have canine companions.”
Not only because our lifestyle here at home doesn’t seem to embrace the word sedentary but also because Jean and I have no choice in how and when our dogs are given exercise.
The dogs tell us in no uncertain terms when they want to go out!
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:
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.
Border collies join the search for Amelia Earhart
4 dogs skilled in finding long-buried bones are headed to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro.
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.”
There are few things sweeter than watching puppies snuggle with their mother, nestling into her soft fur as they contently drift off to sleep. But sometimes even mom is tired of being all sunshine and roses and wants to play. And that’s when things get even more adorable.
Although it’s fun, while playing, mothers are also teaching their puppies manners. If they bite too hard, she’ll growl, yelp or walk away. Then they learn how to behave, so everyone can have fun next time.
Here are nine canine moms (and one dad) having fun with their kids. Like Lucky, above, a corgi who is trying to teach her babies the intricacies of a good game of tug.
In a game of tag at the park, this dog mom can’t be beat, no matter how hard her pups try.
And then there are these 10 golden retriever puppies who swarm mom hoping for a meal. When she disappears they decide to have some fun with dad.
This beagles spins and barks as she’s playfully attacked by her feisty offspring.
These Westie puppies get down and wrestle with their mom.
These Jack Russell pups are no match for a mom with these kinds of amazing acrobatic skills.
It’s sleepy time until mom shows up, then everybody jumps up to play. (OK, technically, they get up for lunch.)
Somewhere in all this hair are Maltese puppies playing with their mother. One puppy gets a little sidetracked.
Mom just wants a little roll in the grass, but when she does, it’s a puppy pile-on.
We know dogs have amazing noses. Scientists say their sense of smell is anywhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more acute than ours. While humans have a mere 6 million olfactory receptors in our noses, dogs have somewhere around 300 million, according to Nova.
But that doesn’t mean their idea of what smells “good” matches our sensibilities.
If your canine buddy runs across an overturned garbage can or something dead in the backyard, there’s a good chance he’ll roll around in it until he’s good and stinky too. Does your dog just like the gross smell or is there some other innate reason for what we think is a disgusting habit? Animal behaviorists have several theories.
They’re trying to hide their own smell
Well-known dog expert and psychologist Stanley Coren, author of many books on dog behavior, says the explanation that seems to make the most evolutionary sense is that dogs roll in odoriferous things to disguise their own scent.
“The suggestion is that we are looking at a leftover behavior from when our domestic dogs were still wild and had to hunt for a living,” Coren says. “If an antelope smelled the scent of a wild dog, or jackal or wolf nearby, it would be likely to bolt and run for safety.”
But if a dog’s wild ancestors rolled in the dung of antelope or carrion, prey antelopes would be less suspicious than if the animal smelled like its true self. This would allow those wild canines to get closer to their prey.
Animal behaviorist Patricia B. McConnell is skeptical of this theory.
“First off, most prey animals are highly visual, and use sight and sound to be on the alert for predators. It’s not that they can’t use their noses, but their noses are dependent on wind direction and so sight and sound are often more important,” McConnell writes, noting that’s why hoofed animals have eyes on the sides of their head and ears that swivel around, in order to see and hear animals sneaking up from behind.
“In addition, if a prey animal’s sensory ability is good enough to use scent as a primary sense for predator detection, surely they could still smell the scent of dog through the coating of yuck. Neither does this explain the intense desire of dogs to roll in fox poop.”
They’re trying to share their own smell
Just like a cat will rub up against you to mark you with its smell, some behaviorists theorize that a dog will roll in something stinky to try to cover up the smell with its own scent. Just like dogs will roll around on a new dog bed or toy as if they are trying to claim it as their own, Coren writes, some psychologists have suggested that dogs will roll in grossness or rub against people trying to leave a trace of themselves.
Again, McConnell disagrees, pointing out that dogs have much easier and effective tools if they want to make their mark.
“This idea makes little sense to me, since dogs use urine and feces to scent mark just about everything and anything,” she writes. “Why bother with the milder scent of a shoulder or the ruff around one’s neck when you’ve got urine to use?”
It’s a communication tool
Dogs might roll around in smelly things because it’s one way to bring news back to the rest of the pack about what they’ve found.
Pat Goodmann, research associate and curator of Wolf Park in Indiana, has extensively studied wolves and scent rolling.
“When a wolf encounters a novel odor, it first sniffs and then rolls in it, getting the scent on its body, especially around the face and neck,” Goodmann says. “Upon its return, the pack greets it and during the greeting investigates the scent thoroughly. At Wolf Park, we’ve observed several instances where one or more pack members has then followed the scent directly back to its origin.”
But it’s not just gross smells that attract this rolling behavior. Goodman placed an array of smells in the wolf enclosures and found that the wolves were just as likely to roll in mint extract or perfume as they were to get up close and personal with fish sandwiches, elk droppings or fly repellent.
Motor system link to the brain
Yet another theory, according to Alexandra Horowitz, author of “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know,” who runs the dog cognition lab at Barnard College, is that there’s a link between the nose and the brain. A stinky odor that lights up the olfactory lobe in a dog’s brain also works on the brain’s motor cortex. That communication tells the dog to get some serious contact with the smelly new discovery, Horowitz tells the New York Times.
“There’s no ‘noxious scent’ receptor in the dog’s brain,” she added. “But they do seem particularly interested in rolling in smells that we find somewhere between off-putting and disgusting.”
It makes them feel cool
But maybe the reason dogs roll in gross things is to show off to their canine friends. It could be the same reason some of us wear flashy clothes or smelly perfume. McConnell calls it the “guy-with-a-gold-chain” hypothesis.
“Perhaps dogs roll in stinky stuff because it makes them more attractive to other dogs,” she says. “‘Look at me! I have dead fish in my territory! Am I not cool?!’ Behavioral ecology reminds us that much of animal is related to coping with limited resources — from food to mates to good nesting sites. If a dog can advertise to other dogs that they live in an area with lots of dead things, then to a dog, what could be better?”
Can you stop the rolling?
Whatever the reason for your dog’s roll in the muck, there’s little chance you can get him to change his habits.
“With thousands of years of practice backing their interest, dogs will continue to go boldly where no man, or woman, would ever choose to go,” says veterinarian Marty Becker. “The only surefire way to stop the stinky sniff-and-roll is to keep your dog on the leash or teach a foolproof ‘come-hither’ when called.”
At the start of today’s post I implied that we humans had a certain degree of sensitivity as to how we smelt.
Well, to be precise, today’s post started with a silly joke.
So, I better close with another silly joke (but one I had to look up to remind myself of exactly how it went):
As you may know, Mahatma Gandhi, walked barefoot most of the time.
This resulted in an impressive set of calluses on his feet.
He also ate very little, which made him rather frail.
And as a result of his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath.
This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.
I have written for years that a runaway Antarctica was certain, with half the icy continent melting rather spectacularly on an horizon of two centuries at most, and probably much less than that. This rested on the fact that half of Antarctica rests on nothing but bedrock at the bottom of the sea. At the bottom of what should naturally be the sea, in the present circumstances of significant greenhouse gas concentrations.
But Lady Luck comes into view and we have this: (Courtesy of Mother Nature Network.)
Global warming is making Antarctica green again, and it’s stunning
At current rates, it’s not crazy to think that the Antarctic peninsula could eventually become forested again.
When you think of Antarctica, you probably imagine a frigid, windswept, icy, inhospitable domain; the whitest, most barren canvas on Earth. That’s pretty much the way the Southern continent has been for at least the last 3 million years, since the last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels approached their current levels. But times, they are a-changing.
The effects of global warming are beginning to radically alter the Antarctic landscape in some surprising ways. Scientists say it’s like looking back in time, to an epoch when this bleached terrain was actually green. Mossy mats are rapidly spreading across the thawed, exposed soils at unprecedented rates, transforming the land from a place of desolation, to a place of viridescence.
At the very least, we’re getting a peek at Antarctica’s future, which like its past was green and filled with plant-life, reports the Washington Post.
“This is another indicator that Antarctica is moving backward in geologic time — which makes sense, considering atmospheric CO2 levels have already risen to levels that the planet hasn’t seen since the Pliocene, 3 million years ago, when the Antarctic ice sheet was smaller, and sea-levels were higher,” said Rob DeConto, a glaciologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, Antarctica will head even further back in geologic time… perhaps the peninsula will even become forested again someday, like it was during the greenhouse climates of the Cretaceous and Eocene, when the continent was ice free.”
So far, the greening of Antarctica is mostly limited to the peninsula, where two different species of mosses are fanning out at a startling clip, at four to five times the rate seen just a few decades ago. They gain a footing in the summers, when the frozen ground thaws, then freeze back over in the winter. But these layers-upon-layers are thickening, generating an increasingly detailed record of Antarctica’s warming climate.
It’s perhaps only a matter of time before grasses, bushes, perhaps even trees begin to sprout. As beautiful as a forested Antarctica might be to imagine, it’s important to remember that this isn’t necessarily a good thing. Climate change is an ambiguous beast; Antarctica might be getting greener, but deserts elsewhere in the world are expanding, sea levels are rising, and weather is becoming more severe.
“These changes, combined with increased ice-free land areas from glacier retreat, will drive large-scale alteration to the biological functioning, appearance, and landscape of the [Antarctic peninsula] over the rest of the 21st century and beyond,” wrote the authors of the study, which was published in the journal Current Biology.
Lead author Matthew Amesbury added: “Even these relatively remote ecosystems, that people might think are relatively untouched by human kind, are showing the effects of human induced climate change.”
Sorry to drag out this old saw of mine, but it is so perfect: “I can predict anything except those things that involve the future”!
Because I am still staying with the Lady Luck theme but this time going from the vastness of the Southern polar regions to something a little closer to home. (Again, seen on Mother Nature Network.)
Pit bull on ‘death row’ at shelter gets new life as police dog
Leonard recently became Ohio’s first ever pit bull K-9. Jenn Savedge May 19, 2017
When Leonard, a stout young pit bull, arrived on the doorstep of the Union County Humane Society in Ohio a few months ago, the staff had little hope for his prospects of being adopted. Leonard was deemed “aggressive,” and that meant he was more likely to be euthanized than sent home with a new family. But Jim Alloway, the center director, saw something different in the dog. And thanks to his observation, Leonard has a future that includes work, play and lots of belly rubs.
As luck would have it, Alloway has an extensive background of working with police dogs. He realized Leonard’s aggression was really a very strong desire to play. Whenever someone was holding something, Leonard wanted it and would try to grab it. As a pet in the average family, this may not be a desirable trait. But this strong “prey drive” made him a great candidate for training as a police dog.
So Alloway called Storm Dog K-9 training. After an initial round of testing, Mike Pennington, the owner of the training facility, agreed to take Leonard on and train him to sniff out narcotics. (Leonard wasn’t a good candidate for tracking and catching suspects because he loves people way too much.)
Before his training with Pennington, Leonard didn’t even know basic commands. But after a few weeks of hard work — which his trainers said he absolutely loved — Leonard was fully certified as a police dog, becoming Ohio’s first pit bull K-9 officer.
Leonard was paired with Terry Mitchell, Clay Township’s Chief of Police. Mitchell told the local ABC affiliate that he was unsure at first about the idea of using a pit bull as a K-9. But the pair bonded immediately.
“I scheduled a time to come down and see him, and after about 10 minutes, I knew this was the dog for us,” Mitchell said.
Leonard officially started work with the force this week. When he has his police vest on, Mitchell says the pup is all business and ready to tackle his narcotics-sniffing job. Off-duty though, Leonard is just a sweet, playful pup, hopping on Mitchell’s lap for evening naps. Oh, and according to Mitchell, he snores horribly.
Leonard — and Mitchell — couldn’t be happier.
Wonder how long it will be before we have happy ex-rescue dogs frolicking through the forests of Antarctica!!