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Tag: breath

Are Perfect Petzzz a little too perfect?

perfect-petzzzleashes1

We’ve been showcasing in recent weeks a few Christmas gift ideas that are either quirky or cute, but here’s one that’s a little creepy — both the product and its marketing.

Perfect Petzzz are “breathing” stuffed dog toys that come in 10 different breeds — all with fur so authentic looking some shoppers have assumed it was harvested from real dogs.

That, as Snopes.com reported recently, is a false rumor.

Still, some creepiness remains — mostly in the way the company markets the toy on the Perfect Petzzz website:

“These adorable pets offers a real pet ownership experience without the hassles and expense. Say goodbye to feedings and vet bills. Say hello to lots of love and cuddles. Perfect Petzzz – the ultimate pet.”
cavThey bill themselves as “a unique alternative to pet ownership, we offer a lifelike experience that all ages and walks of life can appreciate. With our ‘adoption program’ you can take your new puppy or kitten home today!

“…You can even see me breathing! Our fur is soft, and we love to be petted! I even come with my very own bed, minus the fleas!”

Perfect Petzzz are not picky eaters, “consuming only one ‘D’ battery every 3 months.” They are “factory potty-trained, with all their shots and papers, including obedience classes!”

Of course, none of that is true of “real pets,” and owning a stuffed toy dog is not really a “lifelike” experience at all.

Should those things be what you are seeking in a dog, though, by all means, get one of these — as opposed to impulsively adopting a real one as a Christmas gift.

But don’t be fooled into thinking cuddling or watching this lump of fur breathe is any way the equivalent of — or in any way will prepare your child for — the experience of owning a real dog.

yorkietoyReal dogs are messy, real dogs take work. And to imply that a “perfect” dog would involve none of that — and nothing more than batteries — is irresponsible and a little spine-chilling.

Perhaps the website is trying to send out some kind of positive message by pretending buyers are “adopting” the stuffed dogs — they even include an adoption certificate — but that side of it bugs me too, as if they are trying to make a profit co-opting the goodness of real agencies that do that.

And seeing these (about $40 each) stacked up on display in a store, on top of each other, in boxes on a rack, reminds me of something you might see at a South Korean outdoor dog meat market, or on the back of a truck taking dogs to slaughter in China.

Snopes had dispelled the real dog fur rumor, which appears to have started with a single social media post by a Facebook user who somehow jumped to not just the conclusion that Perfect Petzzz were made with fur from real dogs, but that dogs were killed for that sole purpose.

Snopes says the company insists the fur is entirely synthetic.

Still, Perfect Petzzz — other than maybe being right for that person who shouldn’t have a real dog — will not be making any of my Christmas lists.

Scientists say they have figured out how diabetic alert dogs detect hypoglycemia

Specially trained dogs have been alerting diabetics to decreases in their blood sugar levels for years now — but only now do scientists have a pretty good clue of how dogs are able to do it.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say what the dogs are able to sniff out is a common chemical called isoprene, which is found on our breath.

Isoprene increases significantly — and sometimes almost doubles — during hypoglycemia.

Medical detection dogs wake up or alert their owners whenever their blood sugar level drops to the point of hypoglycemia, a condition that can cause shakiness, loss of consciousness, and, if untreated, death.

Using mass spectrometry, the scientists studied the breath of eight women with type 1 diabetes, noting changes in the chemical signatures of their exhalations when their blood sugar levels were lowered to the point of hypoglycemia.

The increased in isoprene is too subtle for humans to smell, but with the ability to detect odors at concentrations of around one part per trillion, dogs are able to sense it.

The scientists aren’t sure why isoprene increases as blood sugar levels drop, but they suspect it might be a byproduct of cholesterol.

Their findings were published in the July issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

The research could lead the way to developing medical sensors that replicate some of what diabetic alert dogs do, providing diabetics with an alternative to frequent blood testing, said lead researcher, Mark Evans.

“It’s our vision that a new breath test could at least partly – but ideally completely – replace the current finger-prick test, which is inconvenient and painful for patients, and relatively expensive to administer.”

Prototype device allows blind people to keep tabs on the health of their guide dogs

mealin

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a device that allows blind people to better monitor the health and well-being of their guide dogs.

The researchers are fine tuning a vibrating harness that monitor a dog’s breathing and heart rate and shares the information with the dog’s handler, according to NC State News.

“Our goal is to let guide dog handlers know when their dogs are stressed or anxious,” said Sean Mealin, a Ph.D. student at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the technology.

Mealin is blind and works with his own guide dog, Simba.

“This is important because it is widely believed that stress is a significant contributing factor to early retirement of guide dogs and other service animals,” Mealin said. “The technology may also be able to help handlers detect other health problems, such as symptoms of heat exhaustion.”

The researchers developed a specialized handle, equipped with two vibrating motors, that attaches to a guide dog’s harness.

harnessOne motor is embedded in the handle by the handler’s thumb, and vibrates – or beats – in time with the dog’s heart rate.

When the dog’s heart rate increases, so does the rate at which the motor beats.

The second motor is embedded in the handle near the handler’s pinky finger, and vibrates in synch with the dog’s breathing. The vibration increases and decreases in intensity, to simulate the dog breathing in and out.

“Dogs primarily communicate through their movements and posture, which makes it difficult or impossible for people who are blind to fully understand their dogs’ needs on a moment-to-moment basis,” said David Roberts, an assistant professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of the paper.

“This challenge is particularly pronounced in guide dogs, who are bred and trained to be outwardly calm and avoid drawing attention to themselves in public.”

The paper, “Towards the Non-Visual Monitoring of Canine Physiology in Real-Time by Blind Handlers,” was presented yesterday at the Second International Congress on Animal Computer Interaction, in Johor, Malaysia.

(Photos: NC State News)