OUR BEST FRIENDS

whs-logo

The Sergei Foundation

shelterpet_logo

B-more Dog

aldflogo

Pinups for Pitbulls

philadoptables

TFPF_Logo

Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue

Our Pack, Inc.

Maine Coonhound Rescue

Saving Shelter Pets, Inc.

mabb

LD Logo Color

Archive for July, 2018

Crated pit bull rescued after being left to perish in rising bay tides

waterdog2leashes1

New Jersey prosecutors are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the demented human who left a young dog inside a wire crate that was being swallowed by the rising tide.

A dog walker spotted the crate and the dog inside along the rocks Monday morning at Veterans Memorial Park, a bayfront park in Highlands.

waterdogShe rescued the young pit bull herself before authorities arrived at the scene, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said in a Facebook post.

The office said the woman was walking a dog when she spotted “a small dog cowering inside the cage. The cage was on a small portion of sand between the bulkhead and the water. The tide was coming in and the water had reached the cage.

“The good Samaritan climbed over the wall and rescued the dog … If not for the heroic rescue act of the good Samaritan, the dog could have potentially drowned.”

The dog had no collar or tags, and the ones he’s wearing in the photo at top were placed there by his rescuer, according to a comment on the post left by that person.

waterdog3Authorities asked for the public’s help in identifying who left the dog there.

Investigators said that based on the tide schedule, the caged dog was likely placed near the water between 4 and 6 a.m.

Anyone with information about the incident may contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Hot Line 877-898-7297 or the Highlands Police at (732) 872-1224.

The grey and white dog was taken to the Highlands Police Department. There was no update on the dog’s condition Monday night.

(Photos: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Facebook page)

When selling technology gets out ahead of understanding technology

cartoon6

When the marketing of a new technology gets ahead of refining that technology, and finding its best use, it can be disastrous.

But, biotech being what it is, and greed being what it is, it happens — a lot: Let’s start selling it before we fully understand it, much less the repercussions it might bring.

Dog cloning is one example of that. Canine genetic testing — now being marketed by some companies — might well be another.

Promising uses may exist in both technologies, but the rush to market them, the gullibility of humans, and the total lack of oversight and restrictions governing their use, have resulted in a whole new market niche — selling false hope.

With both, claims have been made that can’t be backed up. With both, the marketing claims can’t be confirmed by scientific evidence, at least in amounts most scientist deem acceptable to serve as proof. With both, the zeal to put a product or service on the marketplace has led to many outrageous claims and more than a few “woops” moments.

71VI6KUzxML._SL1500_DNA testing of dogs has become a booming business in the last 10 years, starting with the marketing of tests that promised to determine what breeds are in your dog — a fun little method of solving they mystery of a dog’s heritage by testing its blood or saliva in a lab.

Companies said then that knowing what breeds make up your dog could also be a way of keeping him or her healthy, and allow you to watch out for certain diseases and disorders that those breeds are prone to.

In more recent years, it has been used to test for genetic mutations, making it, seemingly, a more valuable diagnostic tool for veterinarians.

Today, it can be used to make life or death decisions and that, a commentary piece in the journal Nature warned last week, is a mistake.

At least it appeared to be a mistake for a little dog named Petunia.

Petunia, 13, started having trouble walking and controlling her bladder and bowels last year.

91Wg3qmDurL._SL1500_Her owners bought a $65 home genetic test, and the results showed their pug carried a mutation that is linked to a neurodegenerative condition similar to the human disease ALS — one that would lead to paralysis and eventual death.

Based on that, her owners had her put down.

What they might not have realized is that as few as 1 in 100 dogs that test positive for the common mutation develop the rare disease. Petunia’s condition could have been the result of a more-treatable spinal disorder.

“Genetic testing for pets is expanding,” the Nature article said. “Hundreds of thousands of dogs have now been genetically screened, as Petunia was, and companies are beginning to offer tests for cats. But the science is lagging. Most of these tests are based on small, underpowered studies. Neither their accuracy nor their ability to predict health outcomes has been validated. Most vets don’t know enough about the limitations of the studies, or about genetics in general, to be able to advise worried owners.

“Pet genetics must be reined in. If not, some companies will continue to profit by selling potentially misleading and often inaccurate information; pets and their owners will suffer needlessly; and opportunities to improve pet health and even to leverage studies in dogs and cats to benefit human health might be lost. Ultimately, people will become more distrustful of science and medicine.”

71aDTs6xiFL._SL1440_What’s not to be trusted here, though, is the marketing.

Claims are made before there is enough science to back them up, and we — minds boggled by all the indecipherable advances in technology around us — accept them.

Few of us really understand, and nobody — I’d argue — bothers much to look at the repercussions, to where it might all lead.

That’s what makes this Nature commentary exceptional. It was written by Lisa Moses, a veterinarian at the MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston and a research scholar on bioethics at Harvard, along with two other Boston-based experts.

Petunia’s case, she said, “is one, but there have been many of them. In fact, a number of cases just like that one are what started me thinking about this years ago, when the first genetic tests started to be used routinely.”

Co-author Elinor Karlsson, a researcher on dog genetics based at the UMass Medical School and the Broad Institute, said she was “aghast” when she learned from Moses that genetic research like hers is being used to make clinical decisions — including euthanasia.

“It really upset me,” she said. “Both the idea that people were already using genetics like this and the idea that the papers that I’ve published on things like bone cancer and compulsive disorder may also end up being used as tests, and that people wouldn’t understand what the limitations were of the work that we’ve done so far.”

The article calls for several remedies, including quality standards for how pet genetic tests are performed, how results are shared, and counselors who could help owners interpret results.

“One of the purposes of this article was just a heads-up to everybody that this needs some serious attention in an organized fashion,” said Veterinarian Steven Niemi, who co-authored the Nature commentary and is the director of the Office of Animal Resources at Harvard.

“We shall sell no wine before its time,” a wine-making company once boasted, hiring Orson Welles to voice those words in a TV ad. Of course, it wasn’t true. Gallo specialized in cheaper wines — Thunderbird even.

Nevertheless, it is advice those who are marketing technology might do well to take, at least if they want to come anywhere close to gaining the public’s trust. For the public, my advice would be don’t do it; wait for the proof.

An understandable, but still wrong, case of dog cloning

Most people who get their dogs cloned — whether they are Barbra Streisand or a non-celebrity — do so in a misguided attempt to hang on, if not to that dog, at least to its memory.

A Michigan woman had a slightly different reason: She cloned her daughter’s dog to hang on to her daughter’s memory.

And, however much sympathy that might evoke, however difficult this is to say, that’s still every bit as misguided.

Photographer Monnie Must, who has spent her career capturing memories, lost her eldest daughter, Miya, to suicide almost 11 years ago.

Must took over the care of Miya’s two dogs, Henley and Billy Bean.

As the 10th anniversary of Miya’s death approached, Henley passed away. Billy, a black Lab, was about to turn 14.

“Billy was her (Miya’s) soul and the thought of losing her was more than I could possibly bear,” she said.

“I thought, I am going to clone her,” Must told Fox 2 in Detroit. “I don’t know where it came from. It wasn’t like I was reading about it, I just thought I am going to clone her.”

Must began researching what it would take to clone Billy, and ended up in contact with a U.S. company called PerPETuate, the only U.S. company offering the service. The cloning was accomplished in a lab operated by Viagen, a company that primarily clones livestock.

Two vials of tissue were taken from Billy, and scientists merged Billy’s cells with egg cells of of another dog, creating an embryo with Billy’s exact DNA.

That was implanted into a surrogate dog at a Rochester, N.Y., lab operated by Viagen.

Last October, they called to tell her they were going to do an ultrasound on Oct. 11 — Miya’s birthday.

“It’s like, really? Of all the dates?” Must said.

Eight weeks after the birth of the dog, named Gunni, Must, who lives in Sylvan Lake, Mich., flew to Rochester to pick her up.

“There was like an immediate bond between us, this dog. I just adore this dog.”

Now eight months old, Gunni’s appearance and personality strike her as identical to those of Billy.

“Billy was kind of a wild, crazy, happy dog – and Gunni is kind of a wild, crazy, happy dog and she is smart,” she said. “So all I can see so far.”

And here is where I need to stop and point out a few things.

Cloned dogs don’t always have the exact appearance as the original, and a “personality” match is even less likely. Often, when they do, it’s because surplus dogs have also been cloned. Souls, I’d respectfully argue, are not transferable. How many puppies have you known that aren’t wild, crazy and happy? What did Must really pay $50,000 for, and could not an equally similar dog been found at her local shelter?

Grief can lead us to do strange things — and that is what those who invented and marketed the service have counted on since the bump-filled beginning.

(You can read about that bumpy beginning in my book, “Dog, Inc.”)

PerPETuate reported on its that Facebook page that the dogs are physically similar, but that Gunni was not initially getting along with Billy Bean, the donor dog, who is still alive.

gunniandbilly“Billy Bean was envious of Gunni and would like to have had her out of the house! After weeks of sensitive management Billy and Gunni are sharing space and beginning to form a close relationship.”

Must says Gunni is “perfect” and that having her in her life has reduced her anxiety.

“A lot of people have feelings – is this right, is this wrong?” she said. “For me, this is what was going to make me function.” Those who would criticize her, she said, “are not in that position. You can’t walk in someone’s shoes. I hope no one else has to walk in those shoes.”

One never feels fully whole again after losing a child, she says, but with Gunni at her side she is able to feel joy again.

As one who can relate to that, I’m happy she found a pathway to joy, even though — sadly — it was not the right one.

The dogs (a lot) of Camelot

jfk1leashes1

A newly published book reveals that John F. Kennedy had nine of them.

No, not mistresses. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) We’re talking dogs, of course — a topic that, when it comes to U.S. presidents, has always been one of great public interest, though it has never gotten quite the media attention that their extra-marital dalliances receive.

The 35th president’s pack is the focus The Dogs of Camelot: Stories of the Kennedy Canines, which features a number of previously unpublished photos and never-before-told stories.

Through cooperation with the Kennedy Library, authors Margaret Reed and Joan Lownds were able to present the compilation of stories and photos about the Kennedy’s canines, who never got the publicity other White House dogs did, due mainly to Jackie Kennedy’s penchant for privacy.

The photos and accounts provide a deeply revealing look into the Kennedys, their character and compassion, and the role dogs played in their lives — both at the White House and at their home in Cape Cod, where they were when the photo at top, featuring most of the pack, was taken.

One account in the book relates to how JFK, before making a decision on the Cuban Missile Crisis, asked to see his favorite dog, Charlie, a Welsh terrier, pictured below in front of the White House with Pushinka, gifted to the Kennedy’s by Nikita Krushchev curing the Cold War.

jfk6leashes1

If you are wondering how Charlie and Pushinka got along, this next picture provides a clue. It’s Pushinka with the litter she had, sired by, you guessed it, Charlie. (And you thought this post was going to be sex free.)

jfk4leashes1

The newly released photos include one of a young John Jr., playing with one of the Charlie-Pushinka pups.

jfk3

Many include the camera-shy Jackie, including this one of her at the White House with Clipper, the German shepherd who was her constant companion.

jfk2leashes1

(Photos: Courtesy of John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

Twinkle, twinkle little dog, empathetic is what you are

petsmartcharitiesleashes1

Do dogs feel empathy? Of course, all us dog people say. Maybe, scientists have generally said.

Now comes what describes itself as the first scientific proof that pets are empathetic, in tune with their owner’s emotions, and quickly respond when they think their owners are upset.

In a new study, scientists took 34 dogs and positioned them behind a movable door with their owners on the other side.

Then they had those owners either pretend to cry, call for help, or hum “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

The dogs nosed their way through the door three times more quickly when they thought their owners were upset and needed comforting.

“We found dogs not only sense what their owners are feeling, if a dog knows a way to help them, they’ll go through barriers to provide to help them,” said lead author Emily Sanford, a graduate student in psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

reddit“Dogs have been by the side of humans for tens of thousands of years and they’ve learned to read our social cues,” she said. “Dog owners can tell that their dogs sense their feelings. Our findings reinforce that idea, and show that, like Lassie, dogs who know their people are in trouble might spring into action.”

Researchers also determined dogs with lower stress levels were more likely to push through the door to “rescue” their owners.

Senior author Julia Meyers-Manor first conceived of the experiment after her own dog, a collie, rushed to her side after hearing her fake muffled cries for help while she was playing with her children.

A former faculty member at Macalester College and current assistant professor of psychology at Ripon College, she wondered just how far a dog would go for a distressed human companion The Smithsonian reported.

Together with Sanford, an undergraduate at Macalester at the time, and their colleague Emma R. Burt, Meyers-Manor designed a series of experiments to explore the extent of empathy in dogs.

First, 34 dogs were separated from their owners by a clear plastic door held shut with magnets. The owners were instructed to either make crying noises or hum “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” for up to five minutes. Every 15 seconds, they would say the word “help” in either an upset or casual tone to match their emotional state.

Half the dogs pushed through the door to get to their humans’ side regardless of the anguish their owners conveyed.

Upon closer inspection of the dogs that entered their owners’ room, Sanford noticed that those who were hearing weeping barged in about four times faster than those hearing nonchalant humming. And when the team assessed the strength of each dog’s bond to its owner, they found that dogs who were more attached to their people were more likely to rush in to the sound of sobbing than those who stayed put.

“This validates what a lot of people already feel: The dogs do respond to the crying,” said Meyers-Manor. “It’s not just your imagination when your dog cuddles you when you’re crying in bed. They do seem to care about how we’re feeling.”

The study, titled “Timmy’s in the well: Empathy and prosocial helping in dogs,” was published in the journal Learning & Behavior.

The responding dogs were also calmer when they reacted, and the dogs who barked and paced instead were more highly stressed.

“We think the dogs who opened that door might have been at that sweet spot: they perceived stress, but weren’t so personally distressed that they couldn’t do anything,” Sanford said.

Other variations in the responses could have resulted from that quality of the fake crying — “Some of the owners weren’t exactly actors,” she explained.

Regardless of their dogs’ reactions in the moment, most of the study’s human participants affirmed their dogs generally responded to them when they were troubled or in danger.

(Photo credits: Top, PetSmart Charities, lower, Reddit)

Dog + doggie door + hot day + sprinkler =

sprinklerleashes1

A wet house, that’s what.

In the oppressive heat of summer, a dog could rely on his humans reading all those helpful blog posts listing tips — that, by the way, should be obvious to anyone with a brain — about how to help your dog stay cool.

Or he could take the initiative, like this one did.

Amid triple digit temperatures in Dallas over the weekend, this dog relocated the lawn sprinkler indoors, and seemed to be pleased with the result.

The dog’s family posted photos of their dog enjoying the sprinkler outside, and then — after he reportedly grabbed the hose and went through the doggy door — inside.

(Photo: Twitter)

Dog Photographer of the Year contest


The UK Kennel Club has announced the winners of the 2018 Dog Photographer of the Year contest, and is showing off some stunning photographs of some stunning dogs.

The international contest, in its 13th year, drew almost 10,000 entries across 70 different countries.

It picks winners in ten categories: portrait, man’s best friend, dogs at play, dogs at work, puppy, oldies, assistance dogs, rescue dogs, I love dogs because (for entrants aged between 12 and 17 years old), and young pup photographer (for entrants aged 11 and under).

The overall top prize, or best in show, so to speak, (above) went to Dutch photographer Monica van der Maden for her image of Noa, an elderly Great Dane, titled “The Lady of the Mystery Forest.” It was entered into the oldies category.

“This picture was made in the early morning in the forest,” van der Maden said. “I wanted to photograph her in a position where she was sitting relaxed next to a tree … she turned her head to the left to her owner and this was the moment where you could see her soul.”

German photographer Klaus Dyber won the puppies category with an equally soulful and artistic close-up shot of Ceylin, a 3-month-old Italian Greyhound.


Israeli photographer Elinor Roizman won first prize in the dogs at play category for her image of Lili, the Pomeranian, chasing a giant bubble on the beach; UK-based Tracy Kidd’s group shot of spaniels and retrievers won the dogs at work category; and the man’s best friend category was won by Portugal’s Joana Matos for her image of a dog and a man at the beach.

Here’s a look at some of the winning entries.

Dogs at Work, by Tracy Kidd

First place, dogs at work, by Tracy Kidd

1st place portrait

First place, portrait, by Carol Durrant

1st place, dogs at play, by Elinor Roizman

First place, dogs at play, by Elinor Roizman

1st place, man's best friend, by Joana Matos

First place, man’s best friend, by Joana Matos

All of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winning images for each category will be on display at The Kennel Club, London from July 16th until October 5th 2018. You can see all of the winning photos and find out more about the competition on The Kennel Club website.

(Photos: UK Kennel Club)