Five days before she made history in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren put down the golden retriever whose dignity and grace helped her cope with the often nasty senatorial campaign, and much more.
The emotional mix that the first female senator in Massachusetts was faced with in the final days of her campaign — seeing one’s political star rising while one’s dog is dying – was recounted last week in column by Brian McGrory in the Boston Globe.
Otis, Warren’s cancer-stricken golden retriever, was loyal, true, non-judgmental, honest, dignified and simple — in other words (and this is our opinion) everything politics is not.
Based on her description, quiet moments with her ailing dog brought her solace during the rough and tumble campaign.
“It’s the lack of complication,” Warren said. “I could spend time just running my hands through Otis’s coat, drawing circles in his short fur, and thumping him on the side, his big hollow chest, you know that sound. It’s possible to get lost in there. And that’s what I needed.”
Otis is described as an inseparable companion, who often accompanied Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, to their jobs at Harvard University.
“He was with Warren in fall 2011 when she declared her campaign for the Senate. He was there as controversies flared, as accusations were leveled, as attack ads filled the airwaves. Polls rose and fell, criticisms alternated with compliments, but always there was Otis, blinking excitedly as Warren came through the door at the end of the day and always ready for a walk.”
Otis was diagnosed with lymphoma in the spring. He was undergoing chemotherapy. The treatments, which at first appeared to be working, later lost their effectiveness.
On Halloween night, Otis watched trick or treaters come and go, too weak to get up off the floor. By the end of the night, Warren and Mann were convinced it was time to let Otis go.
“I called Warren after her victory to see if she wanted to talk about this quiet loss in the final days of a very public campaign. It hurt her to talk about, but in an hour-long phone call this week, one filled with her laughter and her tears, she did.
“She described ‘the white fur ball with big feet’ that arrived at her house 7½ years ago, the casual way he would approach his many admirers, how the ground used to all but shake from his heavy gait.”
On Oct. 28, Warren posted the photo above on Facebook. On Nov. 1, Otis was euthanized at Angell Memorial Hospital. On Nov. 6, Warren was elected as the first female senator from Massachusetts.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 5th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campaign, cancer, chemotherapy, death, died, dog, dogs, election, elizabeth warren, euthanasia, euthanized, female, first, golden retriever, lymphoma, massachusetts, otis, pets, politics, senate, senator
What your dog sees as humpworthy may include other dogs (male and female), your child, your ottoman, your favorite pillow, your house guest, a stuffed animal, your leg, or anything else he — or even she — can latch on to.
It’s one of those canine behaviors we humans find less than endearing, downright embarassing and highly confusing; and, as a result, our reaction is usually to bow our heads in shame, holler at the offending dog, or pretend it’s not happening.
So it’s good to see somebody boldy jumping on the subject — and getting across the point, among others, that the behavior is totally normal.
Julie Hecht, who manages Alexandra Horowitz’s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York City, explores the ambiguous and often avoided topic of non-reproductive humping in the latest issue of The Bark magazine.
“From tail wagging to barking, dog behavior is riddled with nuance. A wagging tail might convey ‘I’m quite scared’ or ‘This is the best day ever!’ Like tail wagging, mounting is far more complex than it may appear, and there is not one simple explanation. But there are some likely candidates.”
Hecht holds a master’s degree in applied animal behavior and welfare from the University of Edinburgh, and she’s an adjunct professor at Canisius College. More important than any of that, she’s not afraid to tackle a subject that offends the more prim and proper among us.
So is humping sexual, or part of an instinctual urge — “must … reproduce … now” — to create offspring? Is it a display of aggression, an assertion of dominance, or just a way to relieve some pent up energy? Clearly, it’s not always and entirely motivated by sexual arousal, Hecht notes, for pillows aren’t usually that arousing.
For nearly as long as ethologists have studied dogs, they have taken note of dogs’ tendency to hump outside of reproductive contexts, she writes.
University of Colorado ethologist Marc Bekoff observed way back in the 1970s that young canids — pairs of three- to seven-week-old wolves, coyotes and dogs — were prone to pelvic thrusting, and that females also engaged in some of that behavior.
“It’s what dogs do. It’s a completely normal behavior,” explains Carolyn Walsh, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who studies the nuances of dog behavior in dog parks. “Both males and females mount, regardless of whether [they are] sexually intact or not.”
It can come from a surge of emotion, anxiety or arousal, Walsh explains.
“Dog parks can be quite stimulating, and for those who are highly aroused physiologically, mounting behavior could easily come out. There can be such a buildup of social motivation and the desire to affiliate that some of that energy spills over into the sexual motivation system. You see sexual behavior coming out, but it’s mostly out of context.”
Hecht also interviewed Peter Borchelt, a certified applied animal behaviorist in New York City, who pointed out, “There are only so many behaviors a dog has access to, and dogs do what is part of their species-typical behavior. It is something they know how to do.”
Many dog owners equate humping to dominance and control, but it can also be a friendly and less than lecherous attempt to get another dog to play. It may be a cry for attention, a way for dogs to gauge the bond they have with other dogs, or to test just how much a play partner is willing to tolerate.
“This is the idea that dogs perform potentially annoying behaviors like mounting to test the strength of the recipient’s investment in the relationship,” said Becky Trisko, a behaviorist and owner of Unleashed in Evanston, Ill., who has studied dog-dog interactions in the dog daycare setting.
“It’s like saying, ‘How much will you put up with?’ ‘How much do you really like me?’”
Despite all the dirty connotations we humans attach to pelvic thrusting, with dogs the behavior seems — while stemming from various emotions — to be more of a celebration of life than anything else. Cooped up in houses all day, a trip to the dog park, or even just seeing the leash come out, can get dogs excited to the point that something else comes out. Humping, or even an erection, it seems to me, isn’t all about sex when it comes to dogs — that’s just how we’re prone to interpreting it.
We humans equate it with sexual lust, but, with dogs, humping might just be a natural way to celebrate, like the high-fiving or chest-bumping of frat boys, or that “woo-hoo” noise girls make when they get together.
Looking at it through a less tainted lens, one could even make the argument that the behavior — humping, not woo-hooing — is more charming than it is revolting.
For the dog, joy is joy; and embarassing as it might be for us to see any overlap between sexual pleasure and just plain happiness, dogs don’t seem to get all bogged down in what might be the appropriate expression of their various happy and excited emotions.
Is that dirty? Or is there a certain purity there? Do dogs have their emotions confused? Or do they have it right?
None of this is to say you should try it at home, at the corner bar, or anywhere else. Civilized society dictates we don’t engage in that behavior. It’s only to say we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape when our dogs hump.
Rather than punishing a dog for exhibiting glee, it makes more sense to gently redirect the behavior. Watch closely at the dog park and you’ll see that many dogs — the humpees, as opposed to the humpers – do that themselves, with a growl or snarl.
My dog Ace does not tolerate it — whether it’s him being humped, or another dog. He feels the need to break it up, and, should he see one dog mounting another, he will generally rush over and do so.
I’m not sure where that behavior comes from.
Maybe he has become too human.
(Painting by Lachlan Blair, from his father Stuart Blair’s blog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, animals, arousal, barnard college, behavior, behaviorist, boys, canines, carolyn walsh, causes, chest bump, children, civilized, control, cushions, dog, dog cognition lab, dog park, dogs, dominance, embarassing, embarassment, ethologist, excitement, female, girls, glee, happiness, high five, humans, hump, humped, humping, humps, humpworthy, instinct, interpretations, julie hecht, legs, male, marc bekoff, mounting, people, peter borchelt, pets, pillows, play, reasons, reproductive, sexual, socializing, society, the bark, urge, woo hoo
Better yet, I’ll spell it out: Single White Male in search of Single Female Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and by LTR I mean not just long term relationship, but marriage.
I might be willing to give the institution another try, but only with a veterinarian.
This decision is based not only on certain financial realities with which I am confronted, not solely on being a journalist without a real job, but on my belief that anyone who has devoted her life to dogs — as long as they are not all self-righteous about it, or hoarding them — is going to be a good person.
So, yes, I plan to marry, and live happily ever after with, a yet-to-be-chosen veterinarian.
(The unidentified one in the photo above, which I found by Googling, would be fine, but I’m not sure if she’s a veterinarian or a model, or, since her left hand is hidden behind the dog’s ear, whether she’s spoken for.)
In the interest of being totally frank, even though my name is John — nice to meet you, do you come here often? – I will reiterate that at least part of this life choice is based on practical, in addition to any romantic, interests.
Ace is nearly 7, beginning to get up there for a big dog. I am 58 (though, by making it a point to take poor care of myself, I can manage to still pass for 60). I’m feeling quite fine today, but Ace is showing signs of another ailment.
He has taken to acting like a cow, but only at night.
While seeming otherwise fine, he has been exhibiting two unusual behaviors. The first is standing like a cow, declining both offers and orders to lay down. When he does finally consent to joining me on the couch, or bed, he insists on putting the front third of his body on top of me.
None of his appendages seem to be bothering him, and I’ve manipulated them all to no end. No other spot I press on seems to cause him any pain. His symptoms are not like those back-related ones he was experiencing a few months ago. He acts mostly normal during the day, but once night falls, he becomes a cow.
He’s eating regularly, his bowel movements are on schedule and his stool seems fine. (Mine, too, in case any potential suitors are wondering.)
I have Googled myself silly trying to figure it out. At one point, I was convinced it was carbon monoxide poisoning, because he was standing by the door a lot, as if to say we must leave the premises at once. When he went out, though, he did nothing, except stand like a cow some more. I went out and bought a carbon monoxide detector. It hasn’t gone off.
Last night, I began suspecting bloat, even though what’s going in, food-wise, seems to be coming out, and he doesn’t seem inflated.
I’ve even asked myself if his ailment might be something other than physical — a cognitive disorder, though it seems to early, stemming from his advancing years. But then I forget that I’ve asked myself that.
Each day he seems fine, recovered, running, playing and happy, and I cancel my plan to take him to the veterinarian. Then at night he becomes an unmoving cow again, but, unlike a cow, seems anxious about something.
So he’s going back to his vet, who’s not an option when it comes to my plan to return to wedlock with a DVM, as he is a he and he is married.
But how wonderful would it be, now and moreso in the future, to have someone right in the same house who could observe Ace’s behavior and — contrary to my uneducated guesswork — come up with an immediate diagnosis and treatment plan?
To spare me from the anguish — and, despite any jest herein, it is anguish — that comes with knowing something is bothering your dog and not being able to figure it out?
And perhaps, even though her background is in dog health, to detect any excessive panting, or drooling, or other warning signs, that I might be exhibiting myself?
Til death do us part.
What I haven’t mentioned yet — because it’s a small thing, which has only a slight bearing on my love for veterinarians — is neither Ace nor I have health insurance, and we’re both getting to an age where that might be handy.
If I married a kindly, female, financially secure, unattached veterinarian, I can only assume Ace would get free medical care — given that Ace would become her dog, unless we parted ways, in which case, as spelled out in a pre-nuptial agreement, full custody of Ace would revert to me.
And if, in addition to making a good living from being a veterinarian, one of those rare careers that actually has a future, she had her own human medical insurance — the kind that covered spouses — that would be some highly appreciated icing on the cake. That would just make our bond even stronger.
I think we would be very happy together.
Yes, I kind of like time and space to myself. Yes, I probably work too much, definitely too much for a person who’s unemployed. True, I can’t shower you with luxurious or expensive things, but I do occasionally shower. I’m probably not “a catch.” As I’ve already stated, I will be 60 in a couple of years.
Nevertheless – and I”m going down on one knee now — I ask you, female veterinarian, will you marry me?
And, whatever your answer, can you help me back up?
(Photo: From Topcollegesonline)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ailment, ailments, animals, behavior, bloat, cow, diagnosis, dog, dogs, dvm, female, finances, health, health insurance, insurance, ltr, marriage, marry me, medicine, pets, proposal, sick, standing, symptoms, travels with ace, veterinarian, veterinary, wedlock
An Arizona scientist trying to induce menopause in mice — the female of that species up to then had been missing out on that experience — has discovered a pill to sterilize dogs, one she says could eventually bring an end to surgical spaying.
Dr. Loretta Mayer was looking for a way to artificially induce menopause in mice so they could be used to study human diseases when she and another scientist developed a drug that they realized also could be used to sterilize female dogs, the Arizona Republic reports.
If approved by the FDA — a prospect that could take years — Chemspay, as it has been dubbed, could revolutionize veterinary medicine and go along way in reducing canine overpopulation in Arizona and nationwide, Mayer says.
ChemSpay can be administered by either a pill or injection.
Mayer hopes to eventually introduce the drug in Arizona and recently persuaded the state legislature to alter state law to allow animal shelters to use non-surgical means for sterilizing cats and dogs.
Mayer, 62, spent more than 20 years working in business before returning to school to pursue a master’s and doctorate in biology at Northern Arizona University. In 2000, she began her postdoctorate work at the University of Arizona, working under Dr. Patricia Hoyer, an ovarian toxicologist who was studying diseases common in aging women.
Mice, unlike women, never lose their reproductive capabilities. So Hoyer and Mayer developed a drug they dubbed “mouseopause” that induced menopause in female lab mice by eliminating eggs in the ovaries without surgery. The development allowed lab mice to be used as models for studying diseases associated with menopause.
In 2002, Mayer started a biotechnology company called SenesTech, studying how the drug could be used on other animals. She has tested it on animals in Indonesia, India, New Zealand and Australia and on the Navajo Reservation, at the request of the director of the tribal animal shelter.
“He said to me, ‘If you could do for a dog what you do for a mouse, I wouldn’t have to kill 400 animals a month,’ ” Mayer said.
Mayer and SenesTech administered the contraceptive to reservation dogs from 2004 to 2008.The trials proved that Chemspay reduced the number of eggs in the tested dogs significantly.
Last year, SenesTech became involved in a project that combines rabies vaccinations with fertility control for the feral-dog population in parts of India. Mayer will return to India this December to resume her work with the group.
Although Chemspay is about six to nine years away from being approved by the FDA, Mayer said she hopes to begin FDA-approved trials in about three years at the Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff.
Mayer is not the first scientist to develop sterilizing drugs for animals. Neutersol, a sterilizing injection for male dogs, was approved by the FDA and tested in trials at the Arizona Humane Society a few years ago. It was taken off the market in 2005 because of a manufacturing disagreement and is now being marketed under another name. It is not currently available in the U.S.
(Photo: Martha Ellis / Arizona Republic)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 22nd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: biotech, birth control, chemical, chemspay, contraceptive, dog, dogs, female, feral, loretta mayer, menopause, mice, navajo, non-surgical, overpopulation, reservation, science, sensetech, spay, sterilant, sterilize, strays, surgery, university of arizona
Turns out the cat I took in off the streets of South Baltimore — just to watch over until you (and I do mean you) adopt it — isn’t a boy after all.
Miles, from nowhere, is now officially Miley.
I first noticed Miley about two weeks ago, when I stepped out of Bill’s Lighthouse Inn for a cigarette. She was living on, and under, the wooden stairs of the empty house next door. I walked over and said hello, and she was happy for the company, making me think that she probably wasn’t one of the feral felines that roam the corner.
I gave her a spare dog biscuit that was in my coat pocket, which she ignored until I broke it up into little pieces. At that point, she scarfed it down and began nuzzling up against me.
After that, my dog Ace and I began stopping by on our way to Riverside Park to check on her, dropping her off some cat food from time to time — as others were doing as well, including Brooke, a neighbor who lives around the corner.
The cat spent most of her time in a well beneath the stairs, filled with wooden planks, which were full of nails she had to navigate past on her way in and out.
Four nights ago, Brooke and I happened to check on the cat at the same time. She’d been feeding her everyday, and even brought her home, only to learn that Miley, while she didn’t have any problem with Caesar the Rottweiller, didn’t get along with her two cats.
We’d both done some checking around to see if anyone knew the cat. Nobody did, but I found out she had squeezed her way into both the Lighthouse and Leon’s Bar, across the street, only to get ejected. There were some reports as well that some street corner lowlifes had been kicking her.
With a big snow on the way, we decided to take the cat, who I was calling Miles by then, to my house, TEMPORARILY, make sure she and Ace got along, and schedule an appointment with a vet to see if her limp, her scratches and her hair loss were signs of bigger problems.
Yesterday, Jill Shook, the veterinarian at City Pets on Charles Street, offered a complimentary check-up and pronounced Miles to be a 12-pound, three-to-four year old tabby, missing some teeth, but otherwise in good health. She also pronounced him to be a her.
Miley is spayed, has no microchip and tolerates dogs well. Her limp went away after a couple of days. Her hair, probably scraped off by the nails, is growing back in and her cuts are healing.
While I had my doubts at first — Miley apparently did not relieve herself during her first 24 hours in my home — she does know how to use a litter box. Fearing she might not, Brooke brought over some cat poop from her house (the gift that keeps on giving) to put in the litter box in hopes Miley would get the message. She did.
She’s a tough, independent and affectionate cat and all she needs now is a human. (Miley Cyrus fans are welcome to apply, as is Miley Cyrus). If you’re interested, contact me at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, I’d like to say a big thank you to Brooke DiRusso, for caring, and to Dr. Jill Shook at City Pets for the check-up.
In case you missed the original video on Miley, back when she was Miles, here it is again:
(Photos: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, abused, baltimore, bar cat, bars, cat, cats, city pets, dr. jill shook, female, jill shook, light street, lighthouse, male, miles, miles from nowhere, miley, rescue, rescued, south baltimore, stairway, stairwell, stray, veterinarian
A Brazilian company called Petsmiling — and you’ll understand the smiling part in a second — has created a new toy for dogs: a sex doll.
Complete with a functioning female sex organ, the Doggie Lover Doll, was introduced at a pet expo in South America and will be hitting the market soon.
“I had the idea to make this doll when my Maltese started to grab everybody’s legs. I did some research and couldn’t find anything like it, anywhere in the world. I decided to make it!” said Marco Giroto, owner of the PetSmiling company.
Actually a doggie sex doll was announced in 2007 as a product that was soon to, um, arrive on the marketplace, but a visit to the Scruffy website reveals little information.
The website for the new Doggie Lover Doll is under construction.
To read the company’s full press release — and I understand if you don’t want to — feel free to continue.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 27th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: brazil, doggie lover doll, dogs, doll, female, marco giroto, marketing, novelty, pet, pet expo, petsmiling, products, rubber, scruffy, sex, toy, toys