Tough love moms in dogs

Studies have been done about “tough love” moms and children and how letting children face minor adversities gives them the ability to cope better when they are adults. But now for the first time a study has been done to determine if the same applies to dogs.


Emily Bray, a postdoctoral researcher in the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology studied litters of puppies at the Seeing Eye, the guide dog organization in Morristown, New Jersey, and published her report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

What she found is very interesting. After tracking the litters into adulthood, they found that the puppies with mothers who were more attentive were more likely to fail as guide dogs for the visually impaired.

Bray did stress that although her study highlights the connection between a mother’s behavior and puppies, she feels that more research is needed to see if genetics plays a part in the results of her study. It never ceases to amaze me how similar dog behavior is to human behavior in many ways.


Dogs help children in many ways

In two independent studies, it was found that pet dogs help give children social support and that a family dog can help a child with disabilities become more active and improve the child’s life.

Scout & Tom

Darlene Kertes and her colleagues from the University of Florida have documented how dogs can help reduce stress in children. Although many dog owners knew this, Kertes’ report was the first to scientifically show the stress reducing nature of dog ownership for children.

In another study Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, studied how a family dog helped a ten-year-old child who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. Because of the dog, the child increased his physical activity, improved motor skills, and developed a better human-animal bond. These studies may pave the way for more research which will help both children and their families for the long term.

Brominated flame retardants found in cats

This is a short article but important. A recent study found that indoor cats have a high level of brominated flame retardants in their blood as a result of inhaling the dust in homes. Previous studies found that cats who developed Feline Hyperthyroidism had high levels of flame retardants, but now researchers have found it in healthy cats as well.


As the flame retardant materials age the particles that come from them become part of the dust in a home. What is especially important to be aware of is that other pets, humans, and especially small children also breathe in the dust.

The flame retardants make up part of furniture, electronics, and even various fabrics. So what can we do about it? I have found an air cleaner that can help reduce the dust in a home. I personally have used the Fresh Air Surround air purifier for years and find it helps keep my home allergy free. I picked that model because it kills germs as well, an added benefit, and does a great job of killing household odors, including litter box odor.

I strongly urge everyone to consider this air purifier. You can get more information from David Scharikin, at or call him at 570-325-2433. There are a number of models to choose from. And no, I do not make a commission for passing this information along. As a pet owner, dogs, cats and birds, and allergic to many indoor and outdoor irritants, it has made my life much better.


Wild bee population dying in 139 U.S. Crop Producing Counties

Until you realize how many crops depend on wild bees for pollination, most people underestimate their importance. Crops such as fruits, berries and nut trees require bees for pollination. Other food crops also require bees for successful production. This is why it is alarming that wild bees are disappearing in 139 key agricultural counties in the United States.


The loss of wild bees makes the death of commercially raised honeybee colony populations even more critical. Honeybee keepers cannot keep up with the demand for commercial pollination services. If the production of food drops due to the lack of pollinators, then the cost of food will rise, affecting everyone.

Most people do not realize that there are over 4000 species of bees in the United States. Each of us can help by developing or preserving habitat that supports bees. Wild bees are essential, even when commercial pollination services are being used by complementing commercial pollination, increasing crop production.


Each of us can help by planting spring to fall plants for bees, even a small garden can help or a container garden. Of course it goes without saying that you should not use pesticides.


Here are some plants that help bees. Many of these plants also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.


Spring: Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac.

Summer: Bee balm, cosmos, Echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta.

Fall: zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod.

These are just a few plants. Check with your local nursery or your local bee keeping society to learn more about helping wild bees. If everyone contributes we can save the bees.

Studies offer new hope for diagnosis of Chiari-malformation in toy dog breeds


The public demand for certain toy dogs to have rounded head shapes and short muzzles have caused them to suffer from Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia disorder.

Chiari malformation is when the bones in the skull fuse too soon and causes fluid pockets in the spinal cord. The fluid pockets which are called Syringomyelia can cause permanent damage to the spinal cord and pain for the dogs. The most common breed that is affected by this is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua and the Affenpinscher.


A new study using an MRI mapping technique has allowed scientists to study how this happens and hopefully will help them develop ways to correct this painful condition.

It goes without saying that breeders can help by carefully breeding dogs who do not suffer from this condition and not breed for a style or look but rather for the dog’s health and opportunity for a pain free life.

Read more at:

Alaska, The First State to Treat Pets Like Children in Divorce Situations

Divorce is traumatic in of itself. Settling who gets what, custody of the children and the financial aspect is difficult and often causes a lot of stress for people. In the past, pets were considered property and not given much thought.

In a first ever, Alaska has passed a law that now considers pets more like children. The law allows judges to take into consideration the well-being of the pet and even to rule that couples can have joint custody of the pet.

While this is a good law, and long overdue, it will pose some difficult problems when determining what is best for the pet. It will have to take into account the pet’s physical and mental health as well as the affect it will have on the family who is getting the divorce. It remains to be seen how this will all play out. But there is no question that it is a step in the right direction.


Are Chickens Really “Dumb Clucks?” New research says No.

Recent tests have shown that chickens have individual personalities, can function in a group, can reason by deduction and understand their place in the flock.  Not only that, but chickens have a sense of numbers and self-awareness.

It turns out that chicken communication is also much more complex than previously thought, including visual and auditory forms of communication. They are able to make decisions based on what they determine is best for themselves.

The study also showed that chickens experience both negative and positive emotions. Mother hens display maternal feelings for their chicks and influence how the chick behaves.

How interesting chickens are. Many people keep chickens for pets so this study should be of special interest to them. Chickens have been used for years to hone clicker skills for dog trainers and potential dog trainers.



My son Tom and my araucana chickens (many years ago)

Scientists Discover that there may be double the number of bird species than originally estimated

Bird watching is a fun hobby no matter what season it is. Winter bird watching has its advantages since more birds are attracted to feeders. It is also easier to spot them without leaves on trees if you live in an area where the seasons change.


There is a new challenge for bird watchers according to a recent study by the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Ornithology. They have reported that there are many more species of birds then originally determined.

In the past studies showed that there were about 10,000 species of birds, however a new study determined that there could be almost double the number of bird species. Previously birds were typed according to how they looked and if they were able to interbreed. But when scientists studied them according to their physical characteristics such as plumage pattern and color, they discovered that there were more species than previously thought, up to double the number of species.

This gives bird watchers a lot more to look for and possibly scientists the fun of coming up with new names for the new species. Life is always full of surprises!–+ScienceDaily%29

The Amazing World of Plants – Some Trees Know When a Roe Deer Has Eaten a Shoot or Bud


Although plant neurobiology is not a new field new material is always a fascinating topic. In this case, Carolin Seele (Leipzig University) and Stefan Meldau (Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology) have discovered that young beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) and maple trees (Acer pseudoplatanus), can protect themselves from roe deer that love to eat their new shoots and buds.

This amazing discovery found that the trees can determine whether the shoot and/or bud was eaten by roe deer or damaged by other circumstances. The trees are able to detect roe deer saliva which triggers an increase in its production of salicylic acid. This hormone then signals an increase in the production of specific tannins which the deer do not like to eat. Not only that, but the growth hormone is also increased to compensate for the lost bud or shoot. If the damage is by other means, such as a storm, the trees only produce a growth hormone.

Many years ago people found that if they talked to their plants they would grow better. Maybe there was something to this. There are so many wonderful things yet to be discovered about plants. What a fun topic!


Canine Hereditary Disorders Affect More Dogs Than Previously Thought

Good breeders typically do all of the genetic testing on the parents of a litter before they breed. Research has indicated that this is much more important than ever before.

Genoscoper Ltd. (a Finnish company specializing in animal genetics and gene testing) has published the most conclusive study ever on canine hereditary disorders. The study was done with researchers from the University of Helsinki and the University of Pennsylvania and published on PLOS ONE, 8/15/16.

They tested 7000 dogs in about 230 different breeds for a predisposition for about 100 genetic disorders. They found that 1 in 6 dogs carried at least one disease. Additionally, 1 in 6 breeds that never tested positive for one of the diseases had a predisposition for it.

This information will help dog owners understand and identify early signs of inherited disorders which may enable pet owners and veterinarians to better able  identify health issues earlier and perhaps prevent suffering for the dog.

This important study will lead to further research about inherited diseases in dogs that will help the overall health and well-being of both dogs and other pets.