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Tag: animals

The tape of the tail

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There’s a new dog in the Guinness Book of World Records.

And therein lies a tail.

It’s a whopping 30.2 inches long, and belongs to an Irish wolfhound named Keon.

keon2Keon will appear in the 2017 edition of Guinness World Records, the staff of which recently visited his family in Westerlo, Belgium, to present them with an official certificate for having the world’s longest dog tail.

Keon’s never-ending tail topped that of the previous record holder in the category, another Irish wolfound, by nearly two inches.

A veterinarian determined the official length by measuring the tail from the top of the bone to the tip – not including the hair.

Keon is an Irish name that means “courageous warrior,” but his owner Ilse Loodts says — even though his tail can do some damage — he is a gentle giant.

(Photos: Guinness Book of World Records)

Heiress rescinds offer of a dog for Trump

popeA tabloid heiress who went public with her plans to provide incoming President Donald Trump and family with a dog has now publicly withdrawn the offer.

Lois Pope, a Palm Beach philanthropist, Trump friend and widow of National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope, says she has fallen in love with the goldendoodle she originally procured for the incoming president and his family.

Pope, though no one asked her to do so, began searching for a hypoallergenic breed for Trump once he won the election.

She found a handsome Goldendoodle, took him home and named the 8-week-old pup Patton, after Trump’s favorite military hero.

At Thanksgiving, when Pope joined the Trumps for Thanksgiving dinner at Mar-a-Lago, she showed Trump photos of the dog.

“Show it to Barron (Trump’s 10-year-old son). He’s going to fall in love with him,” Trump said, according to Pope.

But Pope fell in love first.

“I couldn’t sleep, and the reason I couldn’t sleep was because I fell in love with the dog,” she told The New York Post. “I thought, what am I going to do? I’m going to have to get him another dog.”

When the Trumps arrived in Palm Beach for Christmas, Pope again visited Mar-a-Lago, and informed Trump she couldn’t part with Patton.

“Donald said, ‘But, Lois, I can’t take the dog,'” Pope recalled. “He said, ‘Look at what I do. I’m here, I’m in New York, I’m in Washington. What am I going to do with the dog?’ And I said, ‘Well, you can’t have him!’

“We went back and forth between ‘You can’t have him’ and ‘I don’t want him’ for a little while,” she added.

Trump would be the first president since Reconstruction without a pet in the White House and the first since 1901 without a dog.

The last pet-less president, Andrew Johnson, was impeached.

Pope said her last conversation with Trump concluded with her offer to “scour the nation” for a first dog, should the family decide it wants one.

(Photo from The New York Post)

Your attention, please …

SONY DSC

Look at you! Look at you! You are the cutest little reader I’ve ever seen. Yes you are. Yes you are! You’re just the sweetest reader ever. What a good reader! And, yes, you’re a genius, too. So very smart. Just a good good good pretty genius reader. Yes. Yes!

Talk to a baby like that (and most people do) and you’re going to get a reaction, studies show. You’re going to hold their attention, stimulate their brain, and (put most unscientifically) make them feel warm and bubbly inside.

Talk to a dog like that — especially if it’s a puppy and you have a higher-pitched, female type voice — and you’re going to achieve the same, a new study suggests. They’ll be more responsive and more likely to retain what (though it’s mostly gibberish) you’re saying.

Talk to your website readers like that, and they’re likely to think you’ve gone off the deep end, that you’re either stalking or patronizing them, and report you to the Internet police.

But you wouldn’t do that. Would you, pretty reader? Noooo. ‘Cuz you’re a good reader. Yes! You’re such a sweetie pie. Yes! Yes!

SONY DSCDogs, at least younger ones, find being talked to in a slow, sing-song, high-pitched, “baby-talk” type voice exciting, and react better to it, a new study says.

The findings show that the voice pitch and patterns of humans may help dogs learn words, as is believed to be the case with human babies.

To find out how dogs reacted to human speech, Nicolas Mathevon, a bioacoustician at the University of Lyon in Saint Étienne, France, recorded the voices of 30 women.

The women were asked to read the scripted phrases as they would to dogs, and as they would to humans. For the dog-directed readings, researchers provided them with photos of dogs to help them get in the mood.

Each woman read the following words: “Hi! Hello cutie! Who’s a good boy? Come here! Good boy! Yes! Come here sweetie pie! What a good boy!”

The women read the words as they would to a puppy, as they would to an older dog, and as they would to a human.

The recordings were then played to dogs — 10 puppies and 10 adult dogs at a New York City animal shelter.

Nine of the 10 puppies reacted strongly to the pupy-directed recordings, barking and running toward the loudspeaker and even going into a play stance.

The pups were less interested when the women were using the lower pitched, less playful voices they would use while talking to other humans.

The older dogs, possibly having heard their fill of baby talk, didn’t react at all — likely because they’d become more attuned to their master’s voice and less to those of strangers.

The study’s findings were presented this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Why we talk to babies this ultra-animated, affirmation-filled way — both our own and those we’re just meeting — is instinctual. Why we talk to dogs, especially puppies, like this, is a result of their big-eyed, baby-like appearance that brings out similar instincts in us.

SONY DSCIn either case, it’s all related to our instinct for nurturing, and our desire to communicate with a non-verbal, or not-yet-verbal, being.

In the study, the women’s exaggerated, high-pitched speech served far better to get the attention of the dogs, said Mathevon, who believes this way of talking may help dogs learn words.

I couldn’t find an explanation of why only women’s voices — 30 of them aged 18 to 55 — were used in the study, but I’d guess it’s because women are generally better at, and less embarrassed, at using baby talk in public.

Most of my dogs have favored women. Ace always preferred females, and my dog new dog, Jinjja, is much more comfortable around them too. If he hears a female voice in the distance he pulls toward it, if he hears a male one, he stops or retreats.

A lot of it I think is simply a matter of pitch. A higher pitch is less threatening.

Likely, with Jinjja, it also has to do with how he was raised. Probably, men ran the Korean dog farm he was rescued from, and during and after that rescue it was probably mostly women who were kind to him.

The same is probably true of many a shelter or rescue dog. Given women make up the bulk of the staff and volunteers at animal rescue and shelter operations, those dogs often tend to associate a female voice with food, warmth and safety.

Possibly, dogs have figured out females are the kinder and more nurturing gender (though that might be a little sexist to say). Or it could be women’s voices, in general, sound more like squeaky toys (though that might be a little sexist to say).

But you’re not going to hold that against me. Nooooooo. You’re too nice to do that, aren’t you? Aren’t you? You’re such a good reader. Yes, you are.

(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

HSI shutting down 200-dog farm in Korea

reuters2

Another massive rescue of Korean farm dogs is underway.

Activists on Tuesday freed 10 more dogs from a 200-dog farm in Wonju, 55 miles outside of Seoul, Reuters reported.

Dogs on such farms are raised to be slaughtered for their meat.

reuters1Humane Society International estimates it will take weeks for all the dogs on the farm to be removed, after which they will be transported to the U.S. for adoption at local animal shelters.

The farm, once it closes, will become the sixth shut down by local advocates and activists from HSI, who negotiate with dog farmers and assist them in getting started in different occupations.

HSI estimates there are 17,000 dog-meat farms in the country.

The removal of the dogs follows six months of negotiations, medical examinations and vaccinations. Because airline flights can only carry a limited number of dogs a day, it will take a couple of weeks for HSI to rescue all 200 of the dogs at the farm.

You can see a Reuters slideshow of the operation here.

reutersThe owner of this farm cited his poor health as the reason he was getting out of the business.

HSI officials expected the dogs will be quickly adopted once they arrive at shelters in the U.S.

“As soon as they’re ready for adoption, we find that there are line-ups of people – literally people would line up at shelters – in the U.S. to adopt these dogs because people are so engaged by their sad and compelling stories,” said Andrew Plumbly, another campaign manager for the HSI.

Plumbly said hygiene at the dog farm was “non-existent,” and that dogs spent most of their lives outside in rusty cages.

A minority of Koreans consume dog, and the consumption of dog meat is declining.

Humane Society International hopes bringing more attention to the issue will lead the government ban the breeding of meat dogs in South Korea, where the 2018 Winter Olympics are being held.

(You can read more about Korean farm dogs, including mine, here.)

(Photos: Kim Hong-Ji / REUTERS)

Should we let our cats play video games?

If I had a cat — and I don’t — I would never let it play video games.

Why would anyone want to take an animal that is always so joyously in the moment — in the natural moment — and immerse it in an artificial, non-tactile, monotonously repetitious, pixelated, and quite possibly addicting world where time passes in a blur?

To take the house pet perhaps best known for being able to make a game out of anything — string, toilet paper roll, dust bunny — and put a $200 iPad in front of it so it can paw at virtual fish? That just strikes me as wrong.

It might be fun for you to watch the first time, and it might even be amusing for the feline for a while.

ipads-for-catsBut then it becomes more obsession than play, and your feline, once a wildly imaginative beast with an admirable knack for making anything fun, is stalking the room, zombie-like, Jonesing for his iPad.

Then, when you try to take their iPads away, they become evil tantrum-throwing monsters who no longer see joy, mystery and adventure in something as mundane as a cardboard box or paper bag.

Sure, it is all starting out innocently enough. Remember, though, we humans started with Pong before progressing to virtual murder and mayhem. If history is any indication cat computer play will progress into darker realms — to the point where cats are tuning the real world out and, albeit virtually, engaging in pretend sex and violence, car theft even, on their computers.

Am I exaggerating to ridiculous proportions? Clearly. But seriously, taking the long view, is this best for cats?

Or will we, with all good intentions, slowly drive them insane?

How long, for example, can you watch this before feeling a certain panic in your soul?

Video games for cats have been catching on for several years now — to the point that even some animal shelters have turned to them.

The Regina Humane Society in Canada turned to iPads last year to keep their resident cats occupied and engaged.

“This is just another way, another tool in our toolbox that allows us to keep our animals healthy and happy while they’re awaiting their special someone who’s going to take them home forever,” said Lisa Koch, executive director.

“Owned cats around the world have apps that they play with on their owners [iPads], and it’s something that we’ve adopted here at the Humane Society for cats who don’t have families to make the environment that they’re living in more stimulating for them mentally.”

Koch said these programs are meant to keep cats active and stimulate them mentally.

Stimulate? Maybe. But does laying down and pawing a mouse on a $200 screen keep a cat more active than batting an actual $1.29 play mouse around the room and chasing it?

Lost, too, if we let cats live their nine lives in the virtual world, is interaction with humans. High-tech pet toys that bill themselves as “interactive” have a way of removing a human’s resolve to spend one-on-one time with their pet, to the point where they no longer feel much need to do so. It’s like setting child in front of TV set for three hours.

The Regina Humane Society does good and noble work, and maybe in a shelter situation, where it’s challenging to keep all the animals occupied, something like this is acceptable.

On the other hand, cats are already the ultimate game inventors. We should be pinpointing what is in them — a play gene? — that makes them so able to look at a spool of thread, a pencil, a puzzle piece, and see an amusement park.

Instead, we appear headed to making them as addicted to the computer screen as we are?

About that $80,000 …

dsc05677

Dear financial institution:

As you can see, my dog got to the piece of mail you sent me before I did.

He’s a fairly new dog, and he’s still working out some behavioral issues, such as barking when mail comes through the slot in my door and lands on my floor.

He picks one piece of mail and then chews it up. I’m not sure how he decides which to chew up, but this time he chose the letter from you over such offerings as a lovely note from my mortgage company, an electric bill and coupons offering me a discount on pizza.

It’s particularly regrettable in this case because what remains of what you sent has all the markings of a check made out to me for $80,000.

dsc05674-2I mean it says “pay to the order of” and everything.

If that is the case, please cancel payment and send me another one.

If it’s something else, such as a loan offer disguised as a gift, a loan for which I have been “pre-qualified,” don’t worry about sending it again, and you might want to check how good a job your pre-qualifying department is doing.

I get quite a lot of those offers from companies that suggest I “consolidate” my debt, but that would require adding up all my debt, and that would likely result in cardiac arrest.

A lot of dog owners — those with mail slots — experience this issue, and commonly they put up an outside mailbox so their pets don’t eat their mail.

I’m thinking it might not really be a problem after all, especially if my dog has the ability to detect junk mail and/or offers from sleazy companies hell-bent on deceiving me.

To be honest, before I got the dog a couple of months ago, I was toying with attaching a paper shredder to the mail slot so it could consume all this crap the second it shattered the solace of my home.

The chewed remains of what you sent are now in the trash, where quite possibly they rightfully belong — with soggy coffee grounds, snot-filled tissues, stinky Alpo cans, dead bugs and all the other contents of my vacuum cleaner cannister.

dsc05678My dog still barks when the mail slot opens and spews its daily missives. I’m sure, not being accustomed to household life, he’s still trying to figure out why it does that.

Given 90 percent of what comes through that slot is trash, it’s hard for me get too upset about it.

In the unlikely event that really was a check for $80,000, well, easy come easy go.

A “dog mauling” that was anything but

herreraA San Antonio couple were arrested in connection with the assault of a young child after investigators determined their story about the girl being attacked by dogs was not true.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said deputies were called to a home on the morning of New Year’s Eve, where a couple told them that the girl had wandered out of the home the previous night and been attacked by dogs.

Doctors at the hospital where the girl was treated found the injuries were inconsistent with dog bites and that a sexual assault had occurred.

At a news conference Tuesday, Salazar said the girl had suffered “extremely serious and life-threatening wounds consistent with a brutal sexual assault and multiple stab wounds,” CBS12 reported.

“I can’t even begin to describe to you the level of depravity that went into this crime,” the sheriff said.

Deputies arrested 22-year-old Crystal Herrera, described as a relative of the child, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Isaac Andrew Cardenas.

Cardenas has been charged with super aggravated sexual assault of a child. His bond has been set at $300,000. Herrera has been charged with injury to a child and serious bodily injury by omission.

The 1-year-old girl was in stable condition Tuesday. Upon her release she will be placed in the custody of Child Protective Services.

Initially, county Animal Care Services workers took several neighborhood dogs into custody.

None showed any signs of aggression and they were returned to the owners.

(Photos: Cardenas, left; Herrara, right, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office)