Amazing Cowbirds

Many birds and animals imprint on what they see and hear at birth. Cowbird females lay their eggs in another bird’s nest and let the host bird raise their young. Yet the Cowbird fledglings do not imprint on the host bird.

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Interestingly, they sneak out at night and return to the nest in the morning. The mother cowbird stays near the nest and will call to her baby. The mother’s pay close attention to whether or not their young survive. If the host mother kicks the Cowbird egg out of her nest, sometimes the mother Cowbird will destroy that host bird’s nest.

What is still a mystery is how the Cowbird babies find their way into a Cowbird flock and survive to mate. They must learn how to eat what a Cowbird eats and behave like a Cowbird to survive. This is the opposite behavior of many other birds.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151102152607.htm

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K9 Search and Rescue Troubleshooting

K9 Search and Rescue Troubleshooting: Practical Solutions to Common Search Dog Training Problems by Susan Bulanda, publisher, Brush Education, ISBN: 978-1-55059-736-3 Autographed copies available at www.sbulanda.com also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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My new book is now available! This book will help both the seasoned and inexperienced K9 handler. Many SAR units use a one-size-fits-all training method. When it does not work, they often do not know how to solve the training problem. This book explains how to fix those problems. Every dog is unique and what works for one dog may not work for another. Sometimes a small change in technique is all that is needed. Other times the handler is sending the wrong signal to the dog.

Getting the right dog or puppy is critical to the dog’s success. The book explains how to find the right breeder and puppy for SAR work. The way the puppy is handled during its stages of development can influence how the adult dog will react to training. If a handler is training an older dog, its early experiences can explain some of the training issues that a handler may have.

The book also explains the intelligence of dogs including the latest research about how they perceive life, their emotions and how they react to their owners. This knowledge will help a handler relate to their dog and recognize the message that they send to their dog. Although this book is written for SAR dogs, the information in it applies to all types of dog training, especially for working dogs.

The chapters include:

Finding a good SAR dog; Why dogs have training problems; What is scent; The uncontaminated scent article; Cross train a dog; SAR dog training methods; SAR dog training problems; and an appendix about the nature of scent.

Please Spread the Word!

 

 

Blindness in dogs – a cure for XLRP!

Over the past three years, veterinarians have continued to work with blindness in dogs. They have succeeded in curing X-linked retinitis pigmentosa when caught early. XLRP causes gradual vision loss starting at a very young age in dogs, often as early as five weeks of age. It is an inherited retinal disease.

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Continuing the research using the same techniques, the researchers found that the gene therapy helped dogs at 12 weeks of age (mid-stage disease) when about 40% of the eye’s photoreceptor cells were dead and then at 26 weeks of age (late-stage) when 50 – 60% of the cells were dead.  What the researchers found was that they were able to halt the degeneration of the photoreceptor cells in the treated area.

A few years ago, a team from the University of Pennsylvania  announced that they had cured X-linked retinitis pigmentosa, a blinding retinal disease, in dogs. Now they’ve shown that they can cure the canine disease over the long term, even when the treatment is given after half or more of the affected photoreceptor cells have been destroyed.

To date, dogs have maintained their vision for over two years after treatment. This is very exciting because humans suffer from the same type of blindness. With that in mind, researchers are already examining human patients to determine how to treat their blindness and who might qualify for future treatments.

Again, man’s best friend is offering hope to humans who suffer from this type of cell death that causes blindness. Since this is an inherited disease, breeders should have their dogs examined by a certified canine ophthalmologist and register their dogs with the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, CERF. http://www.tctc.com/~maplerg/cerf-.htm   This will help researchers continue to develop cures for blindness as well as prevent the breeding of dogs who have this inherited disease.

If you have a blind dog or are willing to adopt one, contact www.blinddogrescue.com

All dogs bite!

All dogs bite at one time or another. However, most people do not realize that there are different types of bites. Unfortunately, many dogs have lost their homes, lives or been restricted due to the misunderstanding and misinformation about dog bites.

Dogs used their mouths the same as we use our hands. Puppies mouth everything. Human human babies will put everything in their mouths similar to puppies. The mouth is a very sensitive part of the body, perhaps the most sensitive. The mouth can taste, feel texture, heat, cold, size and shape.

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The mouth and tongue are so sensitive that the smallest bump or lump in a person’s mouth often feels like a boulder or a cracked tooth feels like a canyon. We have to assume that dogs have the same or similar capabilities. However, dogs do not have the same capability to taste as humans do. They have about 1,706 taste buds compared to a human’s 9,000. A dog’s taste buds are located at the tip of their tongue. They can taste bitter, sweet, sour and salty. Their choice of what they eat depends more on their sense of smell than taste.

Dogs use their mouths to manipulate objects, carry objects, groom themselves and/or companions, to show affection, as a means of correcting another dog, as a way to get another animal or person away from them (distance increasing), and to vocalize. One of the most affectionate things a dog may do is nibble the object of their affection. This is a very gentle nibbling using the small front teeth.

Sometimes dogs will grab a person to try and lead them somewhere, such as a door if they have to go out. This is like a person taking another person by the hand to guide them.

Bites often happen in a few seconds. It may be difficult for an untrained person to analyze a bite because you must consider the dog’s body language and the circumstances that happened just before and after the bite. Dogs also can give mixed signals. For example, a dog can act aggressively and at the same time fearfully. The dog’s life experience including training will influence what and how they bite. However, below is a general explanation of dog bites.

Dog bites follow a progression if, as a puppy, the dog has been allowed to learn how to properly act socially with other dogs. An adult dog will first give a warning look, whether it is a puppy, another animal or person. If that does not work, next are warning growls or vocalizations. (Never correct a dog for growling, you will remove an important warning, forcing the dog to go directly to a bite.) If a puppy does not heed the body language and then the vocal warning of an older dog, the dog may give the puppy an open mouth correction. This is when the older dog will “hit” the puppy with his mouth open but does not bite.

The next level is the nip. In human terms, it would be equal to a pinch. It is typically done with the little front teeth. It is a corrective measure used to stop the unwanted behavior or to communicate the message to get away or back off.

If the nip does not work the next bite will be a full mouth bite but a quick release and often not bearing down hard. This type of bite may result in a bruise or small puncture. This is also a request to back off or get away. The dog is trying to increase the distance between himself and who he bit. It is also the type of bite that a fearful dog may employ. It could be a defensive or corrective bite.

If that does no work the next bite may have increased pressure resulting in a deeper puncture or larger bruise. It is also a distance increasing bite or a fear bite.

The aggressive bite that the enraged dog or the dog who is truly aggressive will use is a bite and hold or a bite, hold and shake. These are the bites that are dangerous where the dog typically intends to hurt.

A dog that has developed strong bite inhibition, may put his mouth on a person if he is in pain. Often that is a reflex and when the dog realizes that his mouth is on a person will either stop before making contact or not put any pressure in the bite. Other times a dog who is in pain may bite. This should not be held against the dog. Also, a dog that is enraged or upset about something may do what is called redirected aggression. This also a reflex where the dog will bite whatever is near him when he cannot get to the object of his anger.

The other situation where a dog will bite because of reflex is if the dog is engaged in a fight with another animal and a person tries to grab the dog to pull him away. The dog will bite not realizing that it is not the animal he is fighting but a person. This also should not be held against the dog. In these cases of reflex biting, the humans that are working with the dog should expect it and take precautions to avoid being bitten. The only breed of dog that has been bred not to bite a human when engaged in a fight are the bully breeds, such as Pitbull Terriers.

How likely a dog will bite depends on the breed (or mix) of the dog, the lines of the breed, how well the breeder and then the owner socialized the dog and the dog’s training. Some breeds of dog are less tolerant and quicker to bite than others.

Children are often bitten in the face because they are at face level with dogs. Children of all ages should be taught how to interact with dogs and carefully monitored always. A dog that bites a child due to a reflex action is rarely forgiven even though in most cases the dog is not an aggressive dog by nature.

It would do the dogs and dog owners a great service if the dog owners studied canine body language and learned to understand their dogs. Children should be taught how to interact with dogs. Studies have shown that children can recognize when a dog is angry but not when they are fearful.

There are two excellent resources that help the dog owner learn how to read dog body language.

  1. What is My Dog Saying? By Carol A. Byrnes, diamonsintheruff.com
  2. The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs bluedogtraining.com

Therapy dogs for Alzheimer’s and related Dementia’s

Connections: Animal Assisted Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias by Pam Osbourne, ISBN: 78-0-9993761-0-2, 144 pgs., $19.95, self-published

This is a great book for people who want to become involved in animal assisted therapy or who are already involved. The book is divided into three major parts with subsections in each part. It starts with the author’s personal experience with her parents and how their pet dog helped them. This section helps the reader understand more about Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the way is changes a person’s life and how to recognize the symptoms.

Part II explains what it takes to have your pet dog become a therapy dog. It outlines how the dog can help someone suffering from these diseases. The book also tells people who do not have access to an animal assistance group what to train their dog to do to be a therapy dog. The book does not outline how to train the dog, only what to train the dog.

Part III I feel is the best part of the book. It gives the reader a collection of activities that the handler can have the dog do to engage the patients. Each game or activity has a colored graph that shows the suitability of each game for the cognitive/functional impairment level of the patient.

51qC-KD4KGL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Overall this is a unique book that can be a huge help for the handler and the therapy dog. The print, page and text quality of the book are good. It includes many color photos that show dogs performing the activities listed. However, many people will need the help of a professional dog trainer to teach the dog some of the activities listed in the book.

Bladder cancer in dogs

Although it is rare, bladder cancer in dogs is on the rise. Fortunately, there is a new test, the CADET℠ BRAF  to help veterinarians determine if your dog has bladder cancer.

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There are two types of bladder cancer, transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) and urothelial carcinoma (UC). The tumors start in the urinary tract, but can travel to the rest of the body including bones, liver, kidney, spleen, and skin.

Warning signs of bladder cancer can often be misdiagnosed as a lower urinary tract disease, such as stones and infections. The most common signs are when a dog urinates small amounts often, difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, and accidents in the house, frequent urinary tract infections that do not respond to treatment.

Certain breeds are more likely to get bladder cancer, and usually from the age of six years and older.

High risk breeds: Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Beagle, Shetland Sheepdog, Wire Fox Terrier, American Eskimo Dog,  Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bichon Frise, Border Collie, Russell Terrier, Lhasa Apso, Rat Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier, Parsons Russell Terrier.

Interestingly, veterinarians have found a link between feeding a dog safe fresh vegetables three times a week to a reduced risk of bladder cancer. On the other hand, exposure to herbicides and pesticides increased the risk of cancer.

The good news is that the CADET℠ BRAF test can catch the cancer in its earliest stages, even before symptoms start to show, and it can help veterinarians determine the extent of the disease.

Some veterinarians suggest that all high-risk breeds get tested from ages 8 years and older. It is a good idea to discuss this possibility with your veterinarian or go to SentinelBiomedical.com for more information.

English Bulldog one of the unhealthiest breeds in the world

There is little hope that breeders can create a healthier English Bulldog from the existing gene pool. Years of breeding for specific physical traits has caused the English Bulldog to become one of the unhealthiest breeds in the world.

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One of the reasons for the health issues in this breed is that people in general are more concerned about the dog’s appearance rather than its health. Researchers have used DNA to study the breed and found that there is not enough genetic diversity within the breed to make the needed improvements. When this happens outcrossing the breed to introduce genetic diversity is often the answer.

To this end, many Swiss breeders have out-crossed the English Bulldog with the Olde English Bulldogge, which is an American breed, to improve the English Bulldog’s health. Unfortunately, many English Bulldog breeders do not approve of this and feel that the resulting out-cross is not a true English Bulldog.

The English Bulldog as a breed started around 1835 with about 68 individuals. Since that time the breed lost popularity a few times which further limited the gene pool. In recent years the surge in the breed’s popularity has further caused genetic problems in the breed.

It seems that the only hope for the English Bulldog is to out-cross them as the breeders in Switzerland have done. It would not take many generations to breed the results of the out-cross to resemble the original bulldog.

Anyone who is considering owning an English Bulldog should research the health issues and life-span of this breed before purchasing one. The health issues can result in costly veterinarian bills. It also goes without saying that a puppy should only be purchased from a reputable breeder to help minimize the potential for health issues. For a free copy of my brochure about how to select the right dog and breeder, email me at sbulanda@gmail.com with brochure in the subject line.

 

Exercise, a benefit of owning a dog

Everyone knows that it is important to get exercise every day. However, for many people, especially elderly people, this can be difficult to do. Often motivation is the key factor to get people moving.

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A new study shows that people in general, especially seniors, exercise more daily than people who do not own dogs. This is often because dogs have to be walked more than once a day.

What is even more significant is that even in bad weather, people who own dogs get at least 30 minutes more exercise a day than people that do not own dogs.

Owning a pet also helps people in many other ways. Pets tend to help people socially and help prevent mental distress. They relieve loneliness, give people a reason to live, and a sense of acceptance.

By adding physical exercise to this, pets, especially dogs, help keep us healthy.  And keep in mind that going for a walk benefits the dog as well.

For an excellent book get a copy of Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound by Dr. Phil Zeltzman.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170724211648.htm

How smart are bees?

Can bees think? I have asked a number of beekeepers if the bees attack them when they harvest the honey. Often they have told me that the bees know that they love and respect them and do not show hostility to them, that they rarely get stung. Could this be true? Are bees aware of their surroundings other than where the flowers, hives and other related environmental elements are?

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The way beekeepers have expressed their concern and sadness about the death of colonies of bees almost as much as other pet owners do when their pets are sick or at risk, show their love for bees.

Therefore a recent study about a group of bees who have resisted the Varroa mite that is killing them is a welcomed ray of hope for beekeepers. After all, bees are a pretty amazing insect as far as insects go, in my opinion. We rely on bees to pollinate just about everything that needs pollination, around the world and pollination means that we have food to eat.

The good news is that researchers have found a group of wild bees in the Ithaca, New York area that seems to have developed a genetic resistance to this killing mite.

Alexander Mikheyev, a professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and his cohorts at Cornell University have conducted a rare and interesting study.

They have compared the DNA taken from bees in the Ithaca area in 1977 which have been stored in a museum, with DNA collected in 2010 using a new analysis tool that is especially designed to test degraded or old DNA.

It seems that the group of bees in the Ithaca area were attacked and suffered from the mites the same as other bees during the 1990’s, but were able to recover and are thriving. What the scientists discovered what that the Ithaca bees developed a genetic resistance to the mites. While more research needs to be conducted, it shows promise for the survival of bees. (Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology – OIST. )

But, do bees recognize their keepers as some beekeepers have told me? Can bees tell if their keepers really love and respect them? Most people who study bees know how a bee will come back to the hive and do a sort of wiggle-waggle dance to communicate to the other bees where and how much food the bee has found. For the most part, people think that insects function purely by instinct.

However, an interesting experiment recounted in the book “The Parrots Lament” by Eugene Linden (ISBN: 0-525-94476-1) tells about an experiment conducted by ecologist James Gould on Carnegie Lake in Princeton, New Jersey.

Gould brought some bees and flowers to the middle of a lake in a rowboat and then later, another group of bees were brought to a feeder by the shore. Each group of bees went back to the hive and did their “dance.” However, few bees believed that there was food in the middle of a lake while many bees flocked to the food near the shore. This illustrates that at some level, even bees have the ability to make a judgment about their environment. They made a choice based on their knowledge that pollen is not found in the middle of a lake while it is found on land.

In one of his papers, Gould states, “Other experiments suggest that recruits, having attended a dance in the hive specifying the distance and direction of a food source, can evaluate the “plausibility” of the location without leaving the hive; this suggests a kind of imagination.”

In other words the bees felt that the “dancing” bees, who were telling them to go to the lake, were batty! They made a conscious decision. They made a choice. No matter how you look at it, making a choice involves cognitive ability,  knowledge of the past, present and future. The bees had to realize that from experience, food is not found on water but is found on land, and this illustrates episodic memory.

We know that many if not all animals have episodic memory, is it possible that insects have it too? If they do then could it be possible that bees do recognize and accept their keepers who love them and do not consider them a threat?

This is certainly something interesting to think about.

A Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Dog Owners

This article is contributed by Cindy Aldridge

It’s never easy to find the right gift for someone in your life. You want to give them something they’ll love, but with the holiday season already here, you don’t have a lot of time to wander the malls and hope inspiration strikes you.

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If you have a dog owner to buy for, it might be a good idea to find something both of them will love. Read on to find the right gifts for both dog and owner. You need to be careful, though. There are some gifts that can be unhealthy for the dog.

Dog Gifts To Never Buy

One common dog gift is a rawhide bone. Many people buy these for their pet dogs, which is a shame. As Dog.com shows, rawhide chews can break off and get swallowed, only to block the intestines as the dog tries to digest it. Some rawhide toys, such as those made outside the US, are also covered with a residue of dangerous chemicals that can sicken a dog.

Other classic dog toys you should avoid giving this year include:

  • Toys shaped like small animals since this teaches the dog to attack the real versions.
  • Dog mustaches, hats, or similar silly gifts.
  • Hard frisbees. (They make a special kind of disc just for dogs.)
  • Any cheaply made chew toys, as they tend to break apart.

What Dogs Love To Get

Then what should you buy for your friend’s cute furry friend? Dog treats are typically good, as almost every dog owner needs a box handy for training or treating their dog. But as Mashable shows, there are some unique dog gifts that can work even better.

  • Doggie cigars look like real cigars but they’re just a chew toy.
  • A pet sofa or bed gives the dog a comfortable place to rest.
  • For a safe stuffed animal the dog can enjoy, have one custom made that looks like the dog.
  • A “Pez” dog treat dispenser looks retro while giving the dog a fun place to store treats.
  • For active dogs, a hyper tennis ball launcher can finally tire them out.

Bored Panda has a great list of unusual gifts for the dog. One of these is the auto zip line. Dogs love car rides, but they can get annoyed as they bounce around the inside of the car. The zip line attaches near the roof and runs across seat. Once tethered to the line, the dog can stay active while staying in the back seat.

Gifts For Owners

Buying a gift for the dog can be fun, but don’t forget about its owner! Dog monitor cameras make a great holiday gift. Leaving a dog at home all day can make owners a bit sad, so being able to see that their pet is just fine can be invaluable.

Some other gifts for the dog lover in your life include:

  • A Paww Secret Agent leash that lets the owner easily attach it to a sign or parking meter.
  • Some black-and-white photo portraits of cute dogs.
  • Dognition, a series of games that helps humans understand how dogs view the world.
  • A GPS tracker for the dog, especially if it tends to get past the fence a lot.

Find The Right Holiday Gift

Buying gifts for others can be a hassle, but it helps when you know you got the right present. For dogs, skip the rawhide bones and go for beds, ball launchers, or auto zip lines. Just don’t forget about something for the owner or they might be jealous!