Tag: osama bin laden
On his last day in office — Valentine’s Day – Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spent some quiet time with his right hand man, who is also his sweetheart, and also happens to be a dog.
He’s seen above taking a final walk with Bravo at CIA headquarters.
Bravo is widely believed to be a golden retriever, but inside sources tell us not to jump too quickly to that conclusion.
Bravo, who frequently accompanied Panetta to work, was at his side during his term as CIA chief, and as the operation to terminate Osama bin Laden was plotted.
“Bravo was in the room when we were talking about the bin Laden operation at the CIA,” Panetta said in an interview with Esquire magazine.
“I remember going through that whole thing with him sitting by me,” Panetta said. “And the ability to put my hand on his head and feel his presence just kinda made me feel ‘OK, this is an important issue and it’s a big issue, but in many ways, it’s about whether or not we are able to protect the quality of life that we enjoy,’ and having a dog there just makes you a little more aware of what life is really about.”
(Department of Defense photo by Glenn Fawcett)
Posted by jwoestendiek February 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bin laden, bravo, c hief, cia, dogs, final, golden retriever, headquarters, last walk, leon panetta, osama bin laden, pets, photo, secretary of defense, walk, walks, workplace
To get inside a live dog’s brain, at least as one scientist sees it, you must first get the dog inside an MRI, which turned out to be a pretty big challenge for researchers at Emory University
In an effort to get a better grasp on what dogs are thinking, Gregory Berns, director of the Emory Center for Neuropolicy, sent his own dog and others into an MRI — not with the use of force or restraints, but after training them to willingly enter the noisy, claustrophobia-inducing machine.
That was no simple task, as the video above shows, and as he recounts in the current issue of Psychology Today.
The knowledge gained from all that work? Hardly earth-shattering, but it’s a beginning that could end up leading to some amazing places:
“Critically, we found that the reward system of the dog’s brain behaves very much like the human’s. When Callie and McKenzie saw us giving a hand signal that indicated they were about to receive a hot dog treat, a part of their brain called the caudate lit up with activity. This is the same part of the brain that in humans becomes active when we anticipate something good about to happen. In fairness, this was exactly what we expected, because all animals have reward systems that respond to incentives.”
The research was inspired by the dog that took part in the Navy Seal raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, Berns said:
“This should not have been particularly surprising, and certainly not to anyone associated with the military. Dogs had been part of military units throughout the 20th century. But the fact that a dog had helped kill the most wanted man in the world was something special. It showed that dogs were not just companions. Even though it could have no concept of democracy or freedom or individual liberty, a dog had helped defend a way of life…
“After learning the incredible things these dogs can do, I resolved to figure out what was actually going on in the mind of man’s-best-friend by using the tools of my trade: brain scanning technology.”
Berns started out with his own dog, a feist named Callie, and a border collie named McKenzie. Researchers watched what went on in their brains as they responded to two human hand signals.
But it took a long time to get to that point.
“ … We were naïve, and there were many hurdles. Ultimately, we wanted the dogs to walk up a set of steps into an MRI scanner, and shimmy inside a ‘head coil,’ which detects the signals from the brain but looks like a small birdcage lying on its side. Once in the coil they would need to put their head on a chin rest and remain absolutely motionless. A few millimeters of movement would completely destroy the image quality. And one more thing: when the MRI is running, it sounds like a jackhammer.”
Because of the scanner noise, the dogs had to be trained to wear ear muffs. All the dogs were allowed to quit the experiment at any time. “We used only positive reinforcement,” he said. “Just food and praise.
Berns said the research started year ago and is aimed at answering “the eternal question of what dogs are really thinking. More specifically, we wanted to know what a dog is thinking when it looks at its human owner.”
“As a lifelong dog owner, and currently living with dogs #6 and #7, I would like to think that I know something about what goes on in my dogs’ heads … If you saw me walking the feist you might naturally conclude that I really knew what she was thinking. After all, I talk to her like a person. Never mind that she doesn’t respond. We have developed a relationship that transcends human language. We gaze into each others’ eyes like people do. So surely there must be a bond there.
“Or is it all one-sided? Is the dog-human bond all a sham, albeit one played willingly by both parties, with the dog getting food and shelter in return for making goo-goo eyes at its owner, and the owner getting a simulacrum of undying love?
Berns believes “gazing into our dogs’ brains is like a portal back in time. We now have the tools to see how they see us. We can see the things activating in their heads that our hominid ancestors selected from the dogs’ wolfen brethren. And now we can see it from the dog’s perspective…
“Now we can begin to answer questions like: can dogs map human emotions onto their own feelings, in other words, do they have empathy? How much language do they understand? Just because they don’t speak doesn’t mean they can’t tell what we are saying.”
To learn more about The Dog Project, go here.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 7th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, border collie, brains, callie, dog, dog brains, dogs, emory center for neuropolicy, emory university, empathy, experiment, feist, gregory berns, killing, language, mckenzie, mri, neuroscience, osama bin laden, pets, psychology today, raid, relationship, scanner, science, the dog project, training
Here’s a new dog treat even more tasteless than the Michael Vick chew toy.
A San Francisco pet boutique is selling Osama Bone Laden, a stuffed likeness of the slain terrorist that contains a rawhide chew inside.
The website of Best in Show, a trendy pet boutique located in the city’s Castro district, describes it this way:
“The revolutionary, patent pending, dog toy with a yummy rawhide chew bone sewn inside. If you have a dog that tears apart every toy, this is for them! Now, instead of a plastic squeaker you throw away, your dog can enjoy the chew bone for hours or days.”
I’m not sure if the manufacturer drew inspiration from reports that a military dog was along on the surprise assault that left bin Laden dead, but if so, they didn’t waste any time getting the product on the market.
Priced at $6.95, the chew toy depicts the al Qaeda leader wielding a sword and a bandage on his head that says, “Ouch, I’m Ready to Fight.”
Afraid I’ll have to give it a thumbs down, more for reasons moral than practical — though all that fabric would seem to pose choking hazards.
Hunting down bin Laden was one thing, killing him was another. But all the chest thumping, celebrating and bad late night TV jokes, I think, are a little sickening, and a little more shallow and savage than I want the society I live in to be.
Just something to chew on.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: al qaeda, america, animals, assault, best in show, bin laden, bone laden, celebration, chest thumping, chew toy, death, dog, dog toy, dog treats, dogs, jokes, killing, novelties, osama, osama bin laden, osama bone laden, pets, raid, rawhide, revenge, san francisco, society, vengeance
Details are few, and there’s been no government confirmation, but that’s not stopping most major media outlets from reporting that a dog was a member of the assault team that killed Osama Bin Laden Sunday — and even prematurely pronouncing the dog a hero.
“Hero Dog Helped Snare Bin Laden,” read the headline of a story in yesterday’s Sun that called the dog “a fearless four legged hero.”
The Sun, in a report the New York Times seemed to confirm, said an explosive-sniffing dog was strapped to one of the 79 assault team members lowered down ropes from three Black Hawk helicopters into Bin Laden’s hideout in the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The rest of the Times story recounts the military’s increasing use of, and growing dependence on, dogs — primarily because of their skill in finding improvised explosive devices. But it sheds no light on the alleged dog’s involvement in the raid.
Slate, meanwhile, in a similarly speculative article, reports that a dog was along on the raid, then notes there has been no confirmation that a dog was involved in the raid:
“The special operations forces do have their own canine training program, but it’s very hush-hush. Furthermore, neither the Pentagon nor the White House is talking about the role the dog played in Sunday’s operation, and they haven’t even confirmed that a dog was involved at all.”
The news media loves a good hero dog story — and I do too, when it’s true — but before we start calling this anonymous military dog a hero we might want to have some facts, like what the dog did, and whether he (or she) was even there.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 5th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: assault, attack, belgian malinois, bin laden, bomb-detecting, bomb-sniffing, death, detection, dog, explosives, facts, german shepherd, helicopter, hero, killed, killing, media, military, myths, navy, new york times, news, news media, osama, osama bin laden, pakistan, raid, reports, seals, slate, sun