The rescue of three puppies who’d been buried for five days under a deadly avalanche provided a glimmer of comfort during the continuing rescue effort in central Italy.
Firefighters on Monday pulled the white Maremma sheepdogs from the wreckage of Hotel Rigopiano in the Pescara province, where 23 people have been found dead.
Nine survivors have been found and six people remain missing.
The puppies had been born in December to the hotel’s resident dogs, Lupo and Nuvola (Wolf and Cloud), who had escaped the quake and found shelter in the nearby village of Farindola, according to a report in The Local.
The births had been prominently featured on the resort’s website.
The discovery lifted spirits of the rescue teams as they searched for more survivors.
The one-month-old pups were found in an isolated part of the resort, which was slammed by a series of powerful earthquakes and avalanche Jan. 18.
“They just started barking very softly,” said Sonia Marini, a member of the Forestry Corps. “In fact, it was hard to find them right away because they were hidden. Then we heard this very tiny bark and we saw them from a little hole the firefighters had opened in the wall. Then we expanded the hole and we pulled them out.”
After their rescue and medical checks, the puppies were reunited with their parents in Farindola, where one of the hotel employees had taken them in.
(Photo by Marisa Basilavecchia / AP)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 25th, 2017 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, avalanche, buried, disaster, discovered, dogs, farindola, found, guests, hotel, italy, lupo, nuvola, pescara, pets, puppies, pups, rescue, rescuers, residents, rigopiano, snow, tragedy
Look at you! Look at you! You are the cutest little reader I’ve ever seen. Yes you are. Yes you are! You’re just the sweetest reader ever. What a good reader! And, yes, you’re a genius, too. So very smart. Just a good good good pretty genius reader. Yes. Yes!
Talk to a baby like that (and most people do) and you’re going to get a reaction, studies show. You’re going to hold their attention, stimulate their brain, and (put most unscientifically) make them feel warm and bubbly inside.
Talk to a dog like that — especially if it’s a puppy and you have a higher-pitched, female type voice — and you’re going to achieve the same, a new study suggests. They’ll be more responsive and more likely to retain what (though it’s mostly gibberish) you’re saying.
Talk to your website readers like that, and they’re likely to think you’ve gone off the deep end, that you’re either stalking or patronizing them, and report you to the Internet police.
But you wouldn’t do that. Would you, pretty reader? Noooo. ‘Cuz you’re a good reader. Yes! You’re such a sweetie pie. Yes! Yes!
The findings show that the voice pitch and patterns of humans may help dogs learn words, as is believed to be the case with human babies.
To find out how dogs reacted to human speech, Nicolas Mathevon, a bioacoustician at the University of Lyon in Saint Étienne, France, recorded the voices of 30 women.
The women were asked to read the scripted phrases as they would to dogs, and as they would to humans. For the dog-directed readings, researchers provided them with photos of dogs to help them get in the mood.
Each woman read the following words: “Hi! Hello cutie! Who’s a good boy? Come here! Good boy! Yes! Come here sweetie pie! What a good boy!”
The women read the words as they would to a puppy, as they would to an older dog, and as they would to a human.
The recordings were then played to dogs — 10 puppies and 10 adult dogs at a New York City animal shelter.
Nine of the 10 puppies reacted strongly to the pupy-directed recordings, barking and running toward the loudspeaker and even going into a play stance.
The pups were less interested when the women were using the lower pitched, less playful voices they would use while talking to other humans.
The older dogs, possibly having heard their fill of baby talk, didn’t react at all — likely because they’d become more attuned to their master’s voice and less to those of strangers.
The study’s findings were presented this week in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Why we talk to babies this ultra-animated, affirmation-filled way — both our own and those we’re just meeting — is instinctual. Why we talk to dogs, especially puppies, like this, is a result of their big-eyed, baby-like appearance that brings out similar instincts in us.
In the study, the women’s exaggerated, high-pitched speech served far better to get the attention of the dogs, said Mathevon, who believes this way of talking may help dogs learn words.
I couldn’t find an explanation of why only women’s voices — 30 of them aged 18 to 55 — were used in the study, but I’d guess it’s because women are generally better at, and less embarrassed, at using baby talk in public.
Most of my dogs have favored women. Ace always preferred females, and my dog new dog, Jinjja, is much more comfortable around them too. If he hears a female voice in the distance he pulls toward it, if he hears a male one, he stops or retreats.
A lot of it I think is simply a matter of pitch. A higher pitch is less threatening.
Likely, with Jinjja, it also has to do with how he was raised. Probably, men ran the Korean dog farm he was rescued from, and during and after that rescue it was probably mostly women who were kind to him.
The same is probably true of many a shelter or rescue dog. Given women make up the bulk of the staff and volunteers at animal rescue and shelter operations, those dogs often tend to associate a female voice with food, warmth and safety.
Possibly, dogs have figured out females are the kinder and more nurturing gender (though that might be a little sexist to say). Or it could be women’s voices, in general, sound more like squeaky toys (though that might be a little sexist to say).
But you’re not going to hold that against me. Nooooooo. You’re too nice to do that, aren’t you? Aren’t you? You’re such a good reader. Yes, you are.
(Photos by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 12th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attention, babies, baby talk, bioacoustics, cognition, communicating, communication, dog, dog-directed speech, dogs, female, good dog, good reader, how you say it, human, inflections, interaction, learning, listen, listening, male, nurturing, older dogs, pets, pitch, puppies, shelter, speech, speech patterns, study, tones, University of Lyon, voice, voice patterns, voices
When eight men gather in a cabin in the woods for a bachelor party, you can expect some memories are going to be made — the kind they will share, or hide, for the rest of their lives.
For groom-to-be Mitchel Craddock and his friends from Michigan, there was no choice but to share them, for they ended up bringing home the female who showed up at their cabin door — and her seven pups.
The mother dog showed up at their door one morning as they were making breakfast, drawn most likely by the scent of frying bacon.
She wouldn’t come through the open door, so they brought her a plate of breakfast leftovers, after which she became less timid and let them pet her.
“It took a few minutes for her to gain our trust but from then on she was our best friend,” Craddock said.
It was then they noticed that, judging from the size of her nipples, she appeared to recently have had some babies.
“We could hear them whimpering,” Alex Manchester. “Mama showed up and was actually helping us get the dogs out. One by one we grabbed them and handed them out.”
They brought the puppies — about five months old and in good health — back to the cabin, bathed them and started pondering what to do with them.
“Once we got the puppies out of the hole, we knew we couldn’t just leave them, so we started figuring out where they would go,” said Craddock.
He already owned a chocolate Lab, but when he called his wife-to-be she insisted they take a pup for their new household.
His grandparents volunteered to take Little Orphan Annie, the name they gave the mother dog, into their family — along with another one of the puppies, according to the Nashville Tennessean.
“You think of a bachelor party, and that’s the last thing you think of,” said Craddock. “Eight guys go down to go four wheeling and come back with eight dogs.”
Craddock, 23, and his bride, Kristen Olson, also 23, were married on Oct. 8, after a rehearsal dinner the night before that all the dogs attended.
“They were all playing together and glad to see each other,” Craddock said. “I’m sure they’ll be life-long buddies. Just like all of us.”
(At top, the party boys and their pups after they returned from the trip; lower, the den the pups were found in; and one of the pups getting comfortable at the cabin; by Bryan Bennett)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bachelor, bachelor party, cabin, dog, dogs, homes, little orphan annie, michigan, mitchel craddock, party, pets, puppies, pups, strays, tennessee
Moscow’s stray dogs, as we’ve previously reported, make good use of the city subway system — and authorities and residents generally tolerate it.
But this week when a stray, apparently seeking a warm place to deliver her litter, boarded a train to give birth during rush hour, they were even more cooperative.
Passengers got off the train and put up with hour-long delays so the train the dog was on could be sent to a depot for a more private birthing experience.
As you can see in the video above, a number of people volunteered to help.
At the depot, under the supervision of metro workers and a vet they called in to supervise, she gave birth to nine pups — and the metro administration has started a campaign to find homes for all of them, Sputnik News reported.
After the births, they were all taken to a shelter.
Dogs boarding trains and taking seats is a fairly common sight in Moscow, where strays are plentiful and steps to shelter and find them homes are not.
In fact, the stray dogs of Moscow are a true social phenomenon. Some of them commute from the suburbs by train because it is easier to get handouts from humans in the city.
Foraging dogs have long been part of Moscow’s landscape, but they stayed mostly in the city’s industrial zones and lived a semi-feral existence. They mainly relied on discarded food and kept their distance from humans. But with old factories being transformed into shopping centers and apartments, strays have learned humans have the food and the inner city is the place to beg.
It’s sort of a small scale reenactment, with a twist, of the whole domestication of the species — dogs turned feral returning once again for a human handout and, in the process, learning big city ways.
The strays have learned to cross the street with pedestrians. Some believe that, even though the color difference is not noticeable to dogs, they’ve learned to understand the walking man signal.
As a country, though it has made strides, Russia doesn’t exactly have a shining reputation when it comes to an animal welfare. Remember Sochi?
But, as a people — even though they are often depicted as cold and hard-hearted — they have some compassion for dogs.
Maybe that’s genetic, maybe it comes from knowing how cold cold can get, maybe, in the case of Moscow, it intensifies when you’re sharing an urban area — the streets, the sidewalks, the train, your lunch — with them.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 5th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, birth, delivers, dog, dogs, feral, metro, moscow, nine, pets, pregnant, puppies, pups, russia, shelter, strays, subway, subway dogs, train, train dogs
All we can learn from dogs, and how, in many ways, we should strive to be more like them, are recurring themes on this website.
But, for the record, this is not what we mean.
A new documentary by Channel 4 in the UK takes a look at the “secretive” world of men who like to dress up as, and play the role of, dogs.
Around 10,000 people follow the pet play craze in the UK, according to “Secret Life of the Human Pups” — in which several members of this “secret” society dress up and strut before the cameras.
Apparently, it’s another one of those secret societies that — judging from some of its related websites, and the public competition it holds every year — really craves attention.
The documentary — sensationalistic as it is, albeit in a properly restrained British kind of way — isn’t unearthing any new ground.
Furries — people who dress up and behave as animals — have been around for decades, and the only new twist we can see is a trend towards preferring latex over fur costumes.
Participants, as always, range from those who enjoy a playful escape from reality to those who truly wish to be another species, from those seeking to shock and grab attention to those who are probably in need of some mental health counseling.
Anonymous sex, as always, while not what it’s entirely about, remains a strong component — at least for some participants.
The director of the documentary, Guy Simmonds told Newsweek he began pursuing the project after he “stumbled across some pictures [of human dogs] on the Internet.”
“… The more we researched it, the more surprised I was to learn how large the community was in the U.K. They’ve got their own social networking sites, events and competitions.”
The documentary aired Wednesday night.
Simmonds says puppy players (generally men) come from all walks of life: “We’ve come across librarians, security guards, even CEOs of huge corporations who wanted to remain anonymous. There are gay, straight, transsexual, asexual pups.”
One 42-year-old man described the appeal of pretending to be a pup this way:
“Life is getting more hectic nowadays, so much pressure on work and life. Some people drink, there’s drugs… You’ve got to be civilized in our society. When you’re in puppy mode, all that goes away. We don’t care about money; we don’t care about what job you’ve got, or the bigger car.”
For other people, role-playing as a dog can be a way of dealing with social anxiety, deep-rooted childhood issues or chronic medical conditions.
London-based psychotherapist Wendy Bristow says it is not uncommon for those who have experienced childhood trauma to seek comfort in forms of escapism. She points to cases of paraphilic infantilism, in which adults seek comfort by putting on diapers and regressing back to being a baby.
By taking on the role of something in need of nurturing — be it puppy or baby — they may be attempting to make up for a lack of it in their pasts.
“The technical term is displacement,” she said. “They’re doing an activity that gets them comfort, but they’re not expected to relate back apart from being grateful.”
Whatever the case, it seems there is one thing that both dogs and men who dress up as dogs are probably seeking more than anything else — attention.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 26th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, anonymous, behavior, costumes, documentary, dog, dogs, escape, fantasy, furries, human, pets, pretending, puppies, puppy play, pups, role playing, secret, secret life of the human pups, sex, uk
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
Police investigating the source of a stench in Paramus found 67 puppies packed in a van parked behind Just Pups, a North Jersey pet store.
The pups — some covered in feces — were seized early Monday and taken to a North Jersey animal hospital, where 15 of them were determined to be in need of medical treatment.
Found locked in steel crates, the puppies were scheduled to go to other stores in the Just Pups chain. They had come from the Missouri breeding kennel of store owner Vincent LoSacco.
That’s him in the video above — responding last week to allegations of animal cruelty filed by the New Jersey SPCA in connection with the chain’s largest outlet in East Brunswick, N.J.
Last week, East Brunswick’s council unanimously voted to revoke LoSacco’s license at that store, prompting him to post a video he called “The Truth About Just Pups.”
Despite the scrutiny, LoSacco still apparently saw no problem with leaving 67 puppies in a parked van in Paramus on a night that temperatures dropped to 35 degrees.
Authorities said that about 3 a.m. Monday, Paramus police officers approached the van and detected the stench of urine and feces.
The officers, hearing whines coming from inside the van, opened an unlocked sliding door and found the dogs.
LoSacco on Monday told NorthJersey.com that the van was temperature controlled, and leaving puppies parked in the van overnight was not an uncommon practice.
“It’s not unnormal to leave them in the van, as long as they have air conditioning or heat — depending on the season — and food and water,” LoSacco said. “It’s the same thing with the pet store. People aren’t there 24 hours.”
He denied that the cages were overcrowded, and suggested that any dogs who were covered in feces got that way when police officers loaded the van onto a flatbed truck to transport it.
As of Monday night, four pups remained at the vet’s office. The rest — golden retrievers, Labradors and terriers — were transferred to Tyco Animal Control, which has contracts with more than 20 municipalities in Bergen and Passaic counties.
The incident is being investigated by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force, Paramus police detectives and the Paramus Health Department.
The Paramus was closed Monday pending the investigation. It reopened Tuesday.
The mayor said a Paramus inspector visited the store in response to the complaints and found some unsanitary conditions, but no signs of cruelty. The store was closed for about 24 hours while those sanitary conditions were addressed.
Just Pups has four New Jersey locations — in Paramus, East Hanover, East Brunswick and Emerson, according to its website.
“Just Pups is the only puppy or pet store that you can shop at where you have a 100% guarantee that 100% of our puppies have come from reputable breeders only,” the website says. “..We have never ever purchased a single puppy from a questionable source or a puppy broker.”
In February, LoSacco’s attempts to renew his license for a Just Pups location in Valhalla, N.Y., were denied, according to the New York Daily News.
The charges filed by the NJSPCA against the East Brunswick store came after three dead dogs were found in the store’s freezer on Feb. 29. In total, 267 animal cruelty charges were filed by the NJSPCA, alleging, among other things, that LoSacco exposed puppies to illnesses by commingling healthy and sick animals.
An online petition calling for that store to be shut down and for a state Department of Health investigation into all Just Pups locations has gathered nearly 160,000 signatures.
(Photos: Paramus Police Department)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 6th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 67, animal cruelty, animals, breeder, breeders, chain, charges, cruelty to animals, dog, dogs, east brunswick, east hanover, emerson, feces, investigation, just pups, new jersey, njspca, north jersey, paramus, parked, pet shop, pet store, pets, police, puppies, pups, seize, spca, truth, van, vincent losacco