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Tag: fox news

Dognition: Louie’s deemed a “socialite”


Didja hear the one about the blonde Fox News anchorwoman who took her golden retriever to get an IQ test?

While that has all the ingredients for a pretty good joke, it’s actually the basis of a pretty informative news report, in which Fox 8′s Katie Nordeen brought her dog Louie to Duke University scientist Brian Hare to find out just exactly what type of dog genius he — Louie, not Dr. Hare — is.

Hare, co-author of “The Genius of Dogs,” is the founder of Dognition, a research firm that puts dogs through a series of science-based games designed to assess their personality type — information that Hare says can help dog owners better understand their dogs.

Users of the service (it costs $39) don’t get to bring their dog to Hare, as Nordeen did, but get a “toolkit” and instructions on how to conduct the experiments in their own homes.

The experiments measure five dimensions: cunning, empathy, communication, reasoning and memory, and by virtue of the results, dogs are judged to be one of nine types –  Ace, Maverick, Charmer, Socialite, Protodog, Renaissance Dog, Expert, Stargazer, or Einstein.

Customers, after submitting their test results, receive a full report explaining their dog’s type, and how the conclusion was reached.

Louie, for example, was found to be a socialite.  (You can read Dognition’s full report on Louie here.)

“… Gracefully interacting and communicating with others requires talent. In Louie’s case, she takes this talent to a whole new level – it is definitely her genius. Although Louie is not as adept at independent problem-solving skills as other dogs, don’t jump to any conclusions about her intelligence. Louie relies on a very specific strategy – using you and other humans in her pack to get what she wants.”

(Yes, they got Louie’s sex wrong in the report, but they are personality experts, not gender experts.)

Cutsomers also have the option of becoming members of Dognition (for an additional $60 for a year, or $5 a month), entitling them to receive tailored training tips and activities and get a discount for testing additional dogs.

Hare says Dognition, established last year, is proving popular, with thousands of users from around the world.

“Everybody wants to understand what’s going on inside of a dog’s head. It has not been hard to get people excited about this.”

After visiting Dognition’s lab in Durham for the FOX8 report,  Nordeen continued conducting the experiments at home over the next two weeks. Once submitting her findings, the results were delivered, by email, almost instantly.

Hare says the purpose of Dognition is to enrich people’s relationships with their dogs, but it, like his book, is also aimed at showing the public how truly brilliant dogs are.

“Dogs were thought to be totally unremarkable. There were really no interesting things they could do relative to say dolphins or bonobos, so people were focusing on these other animals,” he said. “But at our feet, literally, were geniuses that had been undiscovered … What makes dogs such geniuses is that, relative to other species, they’re really skilled, really flexible, in understanding what it is we want and what we’re trying to tell them.”

The Dognition tests, in their at-home version, may not be the hardest of science, and their results may not be irrefutable. But given the firm’s stated goals, given the not entirely exorbitant price tag, and given that they’re fun and result in people spending more time with their dogs, I think they have a place in the spectrum of doggie evaluation services.

If people are willing to pay more than $100 to determine what breeds are in their dogs, through DNA testing, $39 doesn’t seem like too much to pay to assess that dog’s personality — and may even provide more telling clues into what makes them tick.

I haven’t run my dog Ace through the online Dognition drill yet, in part because I think his genius is too vast to be measured and could forever skew Dognition’s data base, in part because I already know he’s a charmer, with shades of socialite and Einstein. But Nordeen’s report answered a lot of questions I had about the service, and one of these days, I’ll give it a try.

We’ll close with some bloopers, courtesy of Fox 8, that occured while Nordeen and Louie were taping a promo for the piece — none of which, I’m sure, had anything to do with them being blond:

World’s oldest dog dies — twice

OTTO

Fox News reported yesterday that the world’s oldest dog has died.

Unfortunately, they were dead wrong about that dog’s identity.

According to the initial Fox report: “Chanel, a wire-haired dachshund, died at her owners’ home in Port Jefferson Station on Long Island, N.Y.”

Accurate enough — not to mention fair and balanced — but a bit off, timing-wise. Chanel died at age 20 nearly five months ago.

It was the new World’s Oldest Dog who died this week: Otto (above), also a dachshund, residing in Britain.

Otto, nearly 21, was officially crowned the most senior canine in the world by the Guinness Book of Records in October of last year, after the timely death of Chanel.

On Wednesday, Otto’s owner took him to the vet, who recommended that Otto, suffering from stomach tumors, be put down, according to the Daily Mail

Peter Jones, 68, said he and his wife Lynn, 53, were devastated by the loss. The dachshund-terrier mix was playful to the end. They attributed his longevity to “plenty of love, plenty of good food and regular check-ups at the vets.”

Describing his pet’s final day, Jones, of Shrewsbury, said: “He slept in my bed. He woke up in the morning and he gave me the usual kiss…I was having a bath, he wanted to play, and he brought me his ball. But as soon as I bounced it a couple of times he went asleep again. He was absolutely cream crackered.” (British readers, translation please.)

CHANELMost who would pick up the story from the British press got it right. But apparently the folks at Fox News goofed up in Googling, came across the old stories on Chanel (left) and re-reported her death instead.

Others would go on to repeat the error (though we’d hope they’d have it corrected by now), including Shortnews.com.

A new world’s oldest dog will be named by Guinness.

Rest in peace, Otto.

And you, too, Chanel.