Leave it to scientists to confirm what we already know, and to do so using words we don’t begin to understand.
Case in point: Nervous dogs often have nervous owners. This is not to say a nervous dog can’t have a cool as a cucumber (coolus cucumberus) owner. Nor is it to say some highly twitchy (humanus nervosa) folks can’t have calm dogs.
Only that, as anyone who visits a dog park knows, nervous owners tend to have nervous dog at the end of the leash.
The new study buttresses the concept that our dogs tend to take on our personalities, and that tension — while it may not actually “flow down the leash” — is picked up on by our dogs, and often reflected in their own behavior.
It looks at the chemistry behind that.
The study at the University of Vienna — published in the journal PLOS One “investigated dyadic psychobiological factors influencing intra-individual cortisol variability in response to different challenging situations by testing 132 owners and their dogs in a laboratory setting.”
You might understand that, or, you (like me) might not know spit — or that cortisol levels can be measured through it.
In the study, the researchers measured the levels of cortisol — and the variability of those levels — in the saliva of dogs and owners put through stressful situations.
In addition, they assessed the personality of both dog and human participants — ranging from highly sensitive and neurotic to secure and self confident.
“We calculated the individual coefficient of variance of cortisol (iCV = sd/mean*100) over the different test situations as a parameter representing individual variability of cortisol concentration,” the study’s authors wrote. “We hypothesized that high cortisol variability indicates efficient and adaptive coping and a balanced individual and dyadic social performance.”
For a more reader-friendly account of the study, check out Stanley Coren’s Psychology Today blog:
“You can think of people who are high in neuroticism as being sensitive and nervous while people who score low in neuroticism are secure and confident. In this study, the dog owners who scored high in neuroticism had dogs with low variability in their cortisol. This suggests that dogs with highly neurotic owners are less able to deal with pressure and stress.”
“Conversely, dog owners who were more laid back and agreeable had calmer dogs. Those folks have greater variability in their cortisol response, suggesting that they are better able to cope with situations involving tension and strain.”
The study says the male dogs of female owners often have less variability in their cortisol responses and are often generally less sociable and less relaxed than male dogs belonging to male owners.
(That’s the study saying that females generally score higher on measures of anxiety and neuroticism — not me. I would be way too nervous to say that.)
“Owners behave differently because they are pessimistic or neurotic, and perhaps dogs read the emotions of their owners and think the world is more dangerous — so they are more reactive to it,” the study says. “It looks like people who are pessimistic have dogs which are worse at coping with stress than others.”
Of course, where a dog was before ending up with its owner can play a pretty big role, too.
I, for example, am the cool as a cucumber owner of a nervous dog. He came from a farm in Korea where he was being raised to become meat. That would tend to instill some nervousness in anyone.
Three months after being adopted by me, he still gets pretty nervous — around large groups, when hearing loud noises. I don’t know about his cortisol levels, but at these times he whimpers, sheds profusely — is there such a thing as projectile shedding? — and pees in inappropriate places, such as on my leg.
He is making great strides in every way, but Jinjja still needs to chill, and get less worked up by new situations.
Of all the factors that shape our dogs — genetics, environment, owners — time (and its cousin, patience) may be the most important ones of all.
So my game plan is to provide him with plenty of both, expose him to new settings and situations, and show him that not all the world is a dangerous place — all while being a mellow role model.
In other words, impossible as it might be, I’m going to have to become EVEN cooler.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 21st, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adrenalin, animals, anxiety, cortisol, dog, dogs, environment, factors, farm, genetics, humans, jinjja, korea, levels, meat trade, nervous, owner, owners, personality, pets, research, science, shape, stress, study, university of vienna, variance
A hard-partying New York socialite and hotel owner was charged with animal torture this week, but offered no explanation in court for why he attempted to torch two small dogs.
His attorney blamed it on his client’s bipolar disorder.
Vikram Chatwal, 44, founder of the Dream Hotel Group, turned himself into police Tuesday — more than a week after a dog walker reported he had used a lighter and an aerosol can to set fire to the dogs she was walking.
The incident took place outside Chatwal’s SoHo condo.
The video above, obtained by TMZ, shows the aftermath. Chatwal can be seen apologizing to a group of people, and going so far as to invite him up to his apartment to see his art and his “water collection.”
Police had been called by that point, but they didn’t arrive until after Chatwal disappeared.
The dogs had their fur singed, but weren’t seriously injured.
Chatwal is founder of The Dream Hotel Group, which includes the Dream, Time and Unscripted hotels. He has been in and out of rehab and is known for partying with the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Kate Moss and Gisele Bündchen.
His bio says he is also a model, movie producer and actor and roles in the movies “Zoolander” and “Spring Breakers.”
Chatwal’s lawyer told CBS that Chatwal is a dog owner, and owns six himself.
“The allegations today and the picture the prosecutor has tried to paint fly in the face of the reality of who Vikram Chatwal is,” said the lawyer, Arthur Aidala. “By all accounts, he is a peaceful, law-abiding, soft-spoken, animal-loving, dog-owning individual who is not some guy running around the street trying to injure little animals.”
Chatwal posted $50,000 bail Tuesday on charges of animal torture, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. He is due back in court Dec. 8.
The judge also issued an order of protection for the two dogs — Molly and Finnegan — their owner and their dog walker, the New York Daily News reported.
Assistant District Attorney Erin Satterthwaite said Chatwal was screaming, “The dogs must die!”
Chatwal’s attorney said his client was a lifetime animal lover who suffers from a bipolar disorder but would never harm an animal.
Witnesses say Chatwal was arguing with the dog walker and approached the two Jack Russell Terriers with a blow torch that he put together from an aerosol can and a lighter.
(Photo: Vikram Chatwal, Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aerosol, animal cruelty, animals, argument, bipolar disorder, burned, charged, cruelty to animals, dog, dog walker, dogs, dream, dream hotel, hotel, jack russell terriers, lighter, manhattan, new york, owner, pets, Socialite, soho, time, tmz, torched, torture, unscripted, Vikram Chatwal
An Akita named Maya has become an Internet sensation after spending six days waiting at the door of a hospital in Spain for her owner to recover from surgery.
Maya was traveling home from a vacation with her owner Sandra Iniesta, 22, and Iniesta’s father, Andres Iniesta, when Sandra had to be hospitalized to have her appendix removed.
The 2-year-old Akita Inu stationed herself in front of Elda Hospital, near Alicante, and remained there until, six days later, Sandra was released.
Maya refused to budge.
Hospital staff and others brought her food during her wait.
“I think she knows what is happening and she is showing that she can be patient,” Andres Iniesta told the newspaper, Información.
The hospital put a post about Maya and her vigil on its Facebook page, and word spread from there. People started dropping by to visit her, take her photo and bring her gifts.
“She is just doing what she does in Barcelona,” Sandra later wrote on Twitter, after her release. “Whenever I go inside some place or another, she waits for me at the door.”
The loyalty of the Akita is the stuff of legends, the most famous being the Japanese dog Hachiko, who, after his owner died of a stroke at his office, continued to go to the train station to wait for him for 10 years.
After realizing a surrendered dog had recently given birth, staff at the Marin Humane Society in California contacted the dog’s former owner and asked about the pups.
The owner was “evasive” and “unwilling,” but eventually admitted there were pups and agreed — in the interest of the puppies’ health — to surrender them to the Humane Society as well.
That’s what led to this joyful reunion at the shelter on Monday.
The shelter says that when the mother dog, named Cora, was taken in for a routine check-up, vets found that she had recently had puppies — so recently they became concerned about the health of the puppies.
The Humane Society captured the reunion on video.
The puppies have been named Carson, Branson, Moseley, and Edith, all in honor of Downton Abbey characters.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 11th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, california, cora, dog, dogs, marin, marin county, marin humane society, mother, owner, pets, puppies, pups, rescues, reunited, shelters, surrendered, video reunion
As an investigation continues into the apparent poisoning death of an Irish setter who competed at Crufts, and reports surface of up to six more poisonings, one of the human contestants has come under fire for picking up her Scottish terrier by the tail during judging at the world’s largest dog show.
U.S. contestant Rebecca Cross, owner of Knopa, the Scottish terrier who won Best in Show at Crufts, was filmed picking the dog up by her tail and around its neck to place her on the ground. Now Cross is taking a bashing online.
Knopa’s crowning moment was interrupted during the show when a protestor with a sign reading “Mutts Against Crufts,” ran onto center stage and was spirited away by officials.
And the RSPCA is investigating reports than another canine contestant was beaten by his owner or handler outside the arena earlier in the week.
All in all, it’s fair to conclude, not a good year — public relations-wise — for Crufts.
To say the embarassing series of incidents this year, and all the scandals that have preceded them, are signs that dog beauty shows (and dog ugly shows) have run their course would be a knee-jerk reaction.
There are much better reasons they should become a thing of the past.
Jagger, the Irish setter who competed under the name Thendara Satisfaction, died the day after returning home to Belgium. His owners say a necropsy revealed his stomach contained beef cubes tainted with three strains of poison.
A full toxicology report is expected next week.
Meanwhile, the Independent reports that the owners of as many as six other dogs suspect their showpiece pets may have been poisoned while at Crufts.
A West Highland White terrier, an Afghan hound, two Shetland Sheepdogs and another Irish Setter have all reportedly fallen ill after the international competition.
Yesterday, there were reports that a shih tzu competing at Crufts had died after being poisoned, but UK’s Kennel Club said it could not confirm them. Nor is it confirming that Jagger died from poisoning.
If all that weren’t enough, another competitor has been alleged to have beaten his dog outside the arena — although photos circulating online don’t fully substantiate that. Both the RSPCA and the Kennel Club confirmed they were seeking more information on those allegations.
As for Knopa, the dog whose owner used her tail as a handle — we’d guess she does that to avoid messing up Knopa’s coiffure — Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kiskoe said handling a dog that way is improper, but apparently it’s not so frowned upon that it would lead the Kennel Club to revoke the title.
Knopa’s owner apparently picks her dog up that way often — at least often enough that it has become in her words, “a habit.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose, it was just habit,” Cross said. “It’s just one of those things.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 11th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beaten, comments, crufts, crufts 2015, dead, dog, dog shows, dogs, hoisted, internet, irish setter, jagger, judging, kennel club, knopa, owner, picked up by tail, poisoning, poisonings, rebecca cross, revoke, scandals, scottish terrier, tail, title
When a front woman for the Kardashians emailed the owner of a dog sled adventure company in Montana, asking him to arrange a half-day trip for Khloe, Kim and eight other cast members — all while being filmed by 20 or so crew members — he quoted a price.
It would be $390 per sledder, or $3,900 total, Jason Matthews, the owner of Bozeman-based Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures, told her in an email.
Ashley Warner, the production release coordinator for “Keeeping Up with the Kardashians,” emailed back, suggesting — rather than cash — “an exposure trade out.” The publicity Matthews’ company would receive being on the reality show was worth at least that much, she told him.
Matthews responded to her email saying, in effect, that kind of math didn’t fly in Montana, and requesting payment in advance.
The email exchange continued after that, with the Kardashian representative continuing to talk about a “trade” and explaining the value of “exposure” and Matthews — who has never seen the show — insisting on payment in the form of currency he was familiar with.
At one point, when his message seemed to not be getting through, he made a comment reflecting his own reality: “Look,” he wrote, ” my dogs don’t eat trade.”
The discussion continued until he was sent a confidentiality agreement. He declined to fill it out, saying “I’m not going to sign this until you agree to pay my rate.'”
Warner stopped emailing after that, and Matthews assumed the Kardashian sled ride was off.
On Sunday, Matthews heard the Kardashians had been in a car accident near Bozeman on Saturday. Their car slid off a road and into a ditch. No one was injured and no citations were issued. But it was still very dramatic, Khloe said the next day, when she was interviewed at the Oscars.
“We were in Montana, hit some black ice, car spun out of control, like a big rig got ice all over our car … It was really scary … but we’re all good, all safe, thank God.”
The Kardashians, while they didn’t get their dog sled adventure, did get some skiing in while visiting Montana.
Matthews, after learning of their misfortune — and that no one was injured — got on Facebook and wrote a post titled “Montana Karmic Justice.” explaining his experience with the family’s representatives, LastBestNews.com reported.
In it, he said he didn’t feel the $3,900 fee he was going to charge was exorbitant, considering that — at least according to what he read on the Internet — the family is being paid $60 million this season. He said he was glad they never showed up.
His Facebook post was shared widely, bringing him and his company some major (you guessed it) exposure — all while steering clear of the Kardashians.
And you can’t put a price on that.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 25th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, adventure, bozeman, car, company, crash, dog sled, dog sled adventure, exposure, ice, kardashian, keeping up with the kardashians, khloe, kim, kylie, montana, owner, publicity, reality, skiing, snow, television, trade, yellowstone dog sled adventures
Nobody knows how Sissy did it, but we’d guess it was with her nose.
The miniature schnauzer ran away from home last Saturday, and showed up about four hours later and 20 blocks away — inside the Iowa hospital where her owner was recovering from cancer surgery.
Nancy Franck has been recovering at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids for two weeks, and apparently Sissy got tired of waiting for her to come home.
“She missed mom, that’s all I can tell you. She missed mom,” Franck said.
Hospital security snagged the dog after she entered through the automatic doors and began wandering through the lobby.
They called the number on Sissy’s ID tags and only then learned, from Franck’s husband, that Nancy was a patient in the hospital.
“I thought she just wanted to go someplace, but I didn’t know where. She’d never run away before,” said Dale Franck.
Hospital surveillance tapes show the dog entering, and making her way to the elevators, where — momentarily puzzled — she paused.
“She wanted to see her mom. She was on a mission, but she didn’t know which elevator to take,” Dale Franck told ABC 7 in Chicago.
Family members arrived at the hospital, and they were allowed to take Sissy to Nancy’s room for a visit.
According to the family, their home is about 15 to 20 blocks from the hospital. Sissy had never been there before, they said.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 13th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bond, cedar rapids, dogs, finds, found, hospital, iowa, locates, mission, nancy franck, nose, owner, patient, pets, schnauzer, security, sissy, sniffs, surveillance