You are hiking down a remote jungle trail in some country where there is quicksand — that legendary kind of quicksand from which there is no escape — when you come across a woman who is hip deep and sinking slowly.
“Oh thank God,” she says when she sees you.
She looks familiar. You smile and ask her name.
“Heather Bresch,” she says.
It takes a moment to register. “Heather Bresch? The CEO of Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes the EpiPen?”
“Yes,” she says as she struggles against the quicksand and sinks a little deeper. “I’m vacationing in this country, and I left my luxury villa to take a little walk and this happened. I need help.”
“Clearly you do,” you say. “I’m happy to provide assistance.”
“If you could get that fallen tree limb over there and pass it to me, I think I could pull myself out,” she says, sinking up to the waist as she points.
You walk over and pick up one end of it. “This one?” you say.
“Yes,” she says. “Hurry please.”
You begin sliding the tree limb in her direction.
“This one is $10 million,” you say.
She laughs uncomfortably. “Please, hurry,” she says.
“I’m serious,” you say.
“That’s ridiculous,” she says. “It’s just a tree limb.”
“The EpiPen save lives,” she says.
“So might this stick, if used as directed,” you respond.
Up to her chest in quicksand, she promises to give you the money when she gets out, but you tell her you need it up front.
She struggles to dig into her pockets, causing her to sink up to her neck. As she pulls cash out of her pockets and flings it in your direction, she explains that the six-fold increase in the price of EpiPens was necessary.
“Mylan has spent millions on research and development of the product,” she says. “You can’t expect us to pay for all that ourselves.”
“Oh, so you invented Epinephrine?”
“Well, no, but we’ve spent a lot of money perfecting our sophisticated self-delivery system — in which you plunge a needle in your own leg and push down on the stopper, administering a pre-measured, life-saving dosage.”
“And if people just measured their own, and used an old fashioned syringe, what would be the actual cost?” you ask.
“Oh, maybe about $2.29, but that’s not the point. The point is much effort and significant expense went into creating that delivery system — things like shipping and handling and lobbying and designer white lab coats, all part of our noble effort to keep people from dying from allergic reactions to bee stings and such.”
She throws a final fistful of cash out of the quicksand. “There,” she says, “that’s $10 million. Now please slide that stick to me.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” you say. “The $10 million price was five minutes ago. It has gone up since then – to $20 million.”
“That’s more than I make in a year,” she protests.
“We are not talking about my salary,” she says. “Now, please, the stick. Anyone can hand someone a stick. It costs nothing.”
“Bear in mind,” you say, as the quicksand rises to her mouth, “you are not so much paying for the stick as you are paying for the delivery system. Just look at me as a monopoly providing a needed service. And the cool part is I just stumbled upon my monopoly. I didn’t need help from my senator-father, or to spend millions lobbying for it.”
You watch as the quicksand covers her nose, and then her eyes.
As the top of her head disappears, you plunge the stick into the muck. She grabs on and hauls herself out. Though coughing and exhausted, she manages a laugh, and you are pretty sure you hear her call you a “sucker.”
She crawls about picking up her money as you walk away — but not before noticing an anaconda is slithering up to her from behind, and an alligator is creeping towards her from the river, and a swarm of Zika-carrying mosquitoes is headed her way.
You are not worried about her. She is where she belongs:
With all the other predators.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 26th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 19 million, allergies, ceo, costs, death, drugs, epinephrine, epipen, fable, fetch, fictional, gouging, health, heather bresch, insurance, mylan, pharma, pharmaceuticals, predators, quicksand, salary, stick
The consumption of dog meat may be slowly going out of style in South Korea, but its neighbor to the north is encouraging it.
North Korea’s government since late June has been urging citizens to eat more dog meat, or as leader Kim Jong-un has labeled it, “superfood.”
Media outlets in the country have produced multiple stories this summer about the health benefits of dishes made with dog meat — some of which have even touted the culinary benefits of beating dogs to death before butchering them.
According to the Korea Times in South Korea, the broadcasts have touted dog meat as “stamina food” and “the finest medicine” — especially during the summer.
“There’s an old saying that even a slice of dangogi can be good medicine during the dog days,” reported the Tongil Voice, a North Korean radio broadcast. “Dangogi is the finest of all medicines, especially during the dog days when the weather is scorching.”
The Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS), also a radio network, introduced culinary competitions in Pyongyang last month in which contestants made stew, broiled dishes and other recipes using dog meat.
DPRK Today, a propaganda outlet on YouTube, proclaimed in June that dog meat has more vitamins than chicken, pork, beef and duck and is also good for the intestines and stomach.
It also said a dog should be beaten to death before it is butchered for better taste.
Some observers believe Kim is preparing citizens for hard times ahead. On top of a heat wave that has forced the government to close some businesses, recent reductions in the state-controlled handouts have “severely threatened” much of the nation from getting enough to eat, according to an Amnesty International report.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 17th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campaign, consumption, dog, dog meat, dogs, dprk, eating dog, encourages, government, health, heat, hunger, kim jong-un, leader, meat, north korea, nutrition, pets, propaganda, restaurants, soup, south korea, summer, urges
Researchers at the University of Nottingham say they’ve documented a serious decline in the fertility of male dogs — and suggest that dog food or environmental causes may be to blame.
In a study spanning 26 years, researchers tracked the sperm motility levels of five different breeds — Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, curly coat retrievers, border collies and German shepherds.
They took samples from between 42 and 97 dogs each year, according to the study, published in Scientific Reports.
Between 1988 and 1998, the team recorded a 2.5 percent decline in the amount of motile sperm per year. Between 2002 and 2014, this trend continued at a rate of 1.2 percent each year.
The researchers also found that male pups produced by dogs with declining sperm quality had an increased incidence of cryptorchidism, a condition where one or both of the testicles don’t descend properly.
The study suggests that the sperm quality may have been impacted by contaminants in dog food.
“We looked at other factors which may also play a part, for example, some genetic conditions do have an impact on fertility,” said Dr Richard Lea, leader of the study. “However, we discounted that because 26 years is simply too rapid a decline to be associated with a genetic problem.”
Dogs used for the study were all bred, raised and trained as service animals for disabled people at an unidentified center in England, according to the New York Times.
The scientists said that in addition to collecting samples throughout the study, they examined the testicles collected from dogs that had undergone castration.
Both showed environmental contaminants in high enough concentrations to affect sperm motility. These same chemicals were also discovered in various commercially available dog foods.
The researchers say the findings raise the question of whether a reported decline in human semen quality over the last 70 years could also be a result of environmental factors.
(Photos: Roscoe, a yellow Lab who was not involved in the study, and has no interest in the results, by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 12th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeding, chemicals, contaminants, decline, dog food, dogs, food, health, motility, pets, quality, reproduction, research, semen, sperm, study, testicles, university of nottingham
While Amish breeders are notorious for running puppy mills, some of those in southern Indiana are working with Purdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science to improve their breeding practices and, in the process, their reputations.
“It was time that we as breeders recognize that there are professionals out there that can help us and we need to involve them in our businesses,” said Levi Graber, a member of Odon’s Amish community who helps several breeders in the area.
Though the Amish aren’t known for reaching out, or letting people in, Graber contacted the university a few years ago about improving Amish-run breeding operations in the region. That led to a pilot program in which the operations are reviewed, and suggestions are made on how to improve them.
Already, those behind the program say, they’ve found that improving conditions and practices at the kennels leads to happier, healthier, better behaved dogs.
Under the program, which is open to non-Amish breeders as well, a set of voluntary standards will be created for breeders to follow, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.
“Many folks hear about breeding and animal welfare and they don’t know what (breeders) actually do. They just want to put them out of business,” said Purdue’s Candace Croney, director of the animal welfare center.
Most dogs she and her team of researchers have observed have been in good physical health, Croney said, but some had room for improvement in their behavior. Some facilities’ dogs were loud and dogs became over-excited when they saw people, which Croney said indicated they weren’t used to seeing people often.
The research team advised those breeders to make sure something positive happens for the dogs, such as receiving a treat, every time someone comes into the kennel area. They also suggested letting the dogs out in the yard daily to exercise and socialize.
The changes made a big impact, Croney said. Over four months, the dogs in the kennel with the most behavioral issues became calmer when they saw people, and they physically looked better.
“We’ve seen a very positive impact on some of the things she recommends,” Graber said. “I’ve seen more contented, happy dogs.”
Once the trial program is complete, a third party will audit the breeders’ practices, Croney said.
Breeders who qualify will receive a certification that she said goes beyond the standards mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which cover areas such as housing, sanitation, food, water and protection against extreme weather and temperatures.
Graber said the community feels fortunate to work with Purdue and emphasized that the breeders don’t want to sell puppies that disappoint anyone.
Not all Amish-run breeding operations are like those that end up on the news, noted Dale Blier, who works for Blue Ribbon Vet & Supply in Odon and sells supplies to many breeders in town.
“The majority of dog breeders in Indiana treat their dogs the same way they treat making furniture: They want to be the best at it they can,” he said.
(Photo: A child sits with puppies at a breeding operation in Odon that’s working with Purdue’s Center for Animal Welfare Science program; by Levi Graber)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 24th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amish, behavior, breeders, breeding, center for animal welfare, conditions, health, improvements, improving, indiana, kennels, odon, operations, perceptions, program, puppies, puppy mills, purdue university, reputation, southern indiana
Even though this may be more marketing than science, we can’t help but like the results of this experiment in Australia.
Researchers, in an experiment funded by Pedigree, found that not only do our heart rates lower when we and our pets are together (as everybody knows by now), but they begin to mirror one another.
True, only three dogs and owners were involved in the study. True, the main interest of the company that sponsored it is to sell dog food. And true, what’s new about their findings — how closely the heart rates align — is probably of more poetic than practical use.
But still … It’s good to have a little science (if it can be called that) confirm our feelings of being in sync with our dogs.
In the experiment, three Australian dog owners separated, and then reunited with their pet in a staged but homey setting to see what kind of effect they had on each other’s heart rate.
Both dogs and owners were equipped with heart monitors.
“There was a really strong coherence in the heart rate pattern of both the owner and dog. Upon being reunited within the first minute, each heart rhythm became almost directly aligned and we saw a reduction straight away,” Mia Cobb, canine scientist and demonstration co-conductor told The Huffington Post Australia.
“This project is a really good illustration of what most owners experience every night when they come home from work and are reunited with their companion,” she added.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: align, aligned, alignment, animals, australia, beating, benefits, dog, dogs, experiment, health, heart, heart rate, heart rates, heartbeat, human, in sync, lower, owners, pedigree, pets, science, stress, study
We’re not recommending you do, and we’re not recommending you don’t. We’re only taking a quick look at the subject because, pure and innocent an act as hugging your dog might seem, it is not without controversy.
Stanley Coren, author of many dog books, stirred up a little of it in his column this month for Psychology Today, citing “new data” that shows getting hugged raises the stress and anxiety levels of dogs, and the possibilities of someone getting bitten.
Some people who have been hugging their dogs for years (and insist their dogs enjoy the affection) found his conclusions laughable, labeled him a party-pooping old fuddy duddy, and said his research techniques were anything but scientific.
We’d agree only with that last part — because Coren’s “new data” was gathered by looking at 250 random photos on the Internet of people hugging dogs.
“I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” he wrote.
“In all, 81.6% of the photographs researchers scored showed dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety. Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.
That’s when you can see the white portion of the eyes.
Here’s the problem, though — or one of them, anyway. How does Coren, or anybody else, know that the dogs pictured are stressing out because of the hug. Couldn’t it also be a reaction to WHO is hugging them? Or a reaction to the camera?
The simple fact is some dogs like being hugged, some tolerate it, and others don’t like it at all.
For the latter group, it might be the amount of pressure applied during a hug that they are reacting to — enough to make them feel restrained. It might be that hugs tend to be spontaneous and come out of nowhere.
Then, too, mood could be a factor. Sometimes dogs, and humans, feel like being hugged and sometimes they don’t.
There are just too many variables to make a sweeping conclusion — especially when it’s all based on what photos turn up in your Internet search and your subjective interpretation of those photos.
Hard to read emotions through that many wrinkles, but he seems to be digging it.
We’d agree with the experts who say hugging a dog you don’t know or have just met is not a good idea — and that children should be taught that early on.
But beyond that, we’d be hesitant to put the kibosh on dog hugging altogether, especially when it’s based on Flickr’ed or Facebook’ed photos posted by dog owners wanting to show how much they love their dogs — whether their dogs like it or not.
In this writer’s life, he has been creeped out by some hugs, tolerated others, found some both warm and comforting, and gotten truly enthused by a few.
Probably, some old photos exist of him showing half moon eyes while being squeezed by his big sister.
Does that mean he doesn’t like hugs?
Of course not. He just prefers to make the decision on a case by case basis. Dogs should have that freedom, too.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: affection, animals, behavior, dog, dogs, emotions, health, hug, hugging, hugging your dog, hugs, internet, interpreting, mood, pets, photographs, photos, psychology today, safety, stanley coren
A man’s daring rescue of a dog hanging out the balcony window of a 13th floor apartment in Bogota, Colombia, was caught on video.
The video was posted earlier this week on the Facebook page of Love for the Animals, an animal rights group in Bogota.
The dog, named Luna, had apparently gotten stuck between the rails that covered the window, with most of her body hanging out the window.
Luna’s owner wasn’t home so the only way to get to reach her was from the outside.
Diego Andrés Dávila Jimenez first tried to use a broom to push the dog back inside, while leaning out the window of an apartment one floor below. When that didn’t work he climbed one story up the face of the building as a crowd below watched and shouted encouragement to him.
“People on the ground were screaming. They had a mattress out just in case,” said Jimenez, according to The Dodo. “The truth is, I did not think about the dire consequences. I did not look down.”
Jiminez climbed up the building, over the rails and into the apartment, then pulled the dog to safety.
“When I had Luna in my hands and looked down, a thousand thoughts flew through my mind,” Jimenez said. “My girlfriend was a little upset, yelling at me ‘You stay there! Do not climb back down!'”
When Luna’s owner came home and found out what happed, “she was in tears,” Jiminez said. “She is very grateful, because she just adores that dog.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 13 stories, 13th floor, amor por los animales, animals, apartment, balcony, bogota, building, climb, climbed, colombia, dangling, daring, Diego Andrés Dávila Jimenez, dog, hanging, health, hero, high rise, luna, pets, railing, rescue, safety, saved, video, window