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Tag: smell

Boston museum will attempt to fight art-damaging bugs with a Weimaraner

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is training a dog to sniff out pests that could damage artwork.

Riley, a three-month-old Weimaraner, would be the first dog trained specifically to detect moths and other pests that could damage high-value artwork in a museum.

“It’s really a trial, pilot project. We don’t know if he’s going to be good at it,” said Katie Getchell, the deputy director of the museum. “But it seems like a great idea to try.”

museumdogAfter Nicki Luongo, a museum employee who trains police dogs on her own time, got Riley as a family pet, discussions began on whether she might be able to train him to detect damaging insects that tend to eat through textiles and wood.

My money’s on Riley, because dogs have proven time and again that their noses can sniff out almost anything — from cadavers to cancers, explosives to bed bugs, turtle eggs to ants.

Most museums take steps to prevent pests from threatening artwork, including quarantining any new works. Still, moths and other bugs sneak in, occasionally hitching a ride on a visitor’s coat, the New York Times reported.

Riley will be trained to learn specific bugs’ scents, and alert his handlers by sitting in front of an artwork when he detects them. At that point, museum staff would more closely inspect the artwork.

If Riley is successful, museum officials say they would share what they’ve learned with other museums and organizations that need to protect textiles, Getchell said.

Riley was presented with his own museum photo ID badge last week, according to CBS in Boston.

Riley would do his detecting after hours.

(Photo: Boston Museum of Fine Arts)

Japanese robot dog can tell you if your feet are stinky

It’s one thing — one seemingly very strange thing — to build a robot whose only job is to tell us if our feet stink.

But to make it in the form of a fluffy little white dog? That’s a pretty odious, and odorous, task to assign to the species, even a robot member of the species, and it’s degrading to robot dogs everywhere — many of which perform far more important duties, like sitting, and laying down, and barking and fetching a ball.

This new odor-detecting technology comes from Japan, which leads the world in producing robot dogs.

Its name is Hana-chan, and the six-inch long robot dog from Next Technology has a built-in odor detection sensor in its nose that assesses just how malodorous you feet may be, according to Japan Times.

JAPAN-TECHNOLOGY-ROBOT-OFFBEATIf your feet are slightly smelly, Hana-chan will bark. If they are truly pungent, Hana-chan will faint and fall over on its side.

But not before spraying a little air freshener on your toes.

Hana is the Japanese word for nose and Chan is a common girl’s nickname.

Next Technology plans to start selling the robot dog in early 2018 — at about $900 each.

Now, as absurd as Hana-chan might seem, the product makes more sense when you consider the cultural context.

Traditional Japanese remove their shoes before entering a home — both their own and those of others.

Traditional Japanese are also respectful, and not as likely as, say, an American friend — or wife — to blurt out, “Jesus! Your feet stink.”

Next Technology says it created the robot in response to a request from a man who suspected he had a foot odor issue.

“He told us his daughter had said his feet were smelly . . . But he didn’t want to know how bad the odor was because he would feel hurt,” a company representative said. “That’s why we developed this cute robot.”

With the robot dog, people can avoid the embarrassment of being told their feet stink, or perhaps the even greater embarrassment of not being told and offending everyone in the room.

(Photo: Next Technology)

Scientists say they have figured out how diabetic alert dogs detect hypoglycemia

Specially trained dogs have been alerting diabetics to decreases in their blood sugar levels for years now — but only now do scientists have a pretty good clue of how dogs are able to do it.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say what the dogs are able to sniff out is a common chemical called isoprene, which is found on our breath.

Isoprene increases significantly — and sometimes almost doubles — during hypoglycemia.

Medical detection dogs wake up or alert their owners whenever their blood sugar level drops to the point of hypoglycemia, a condition that can cause shakiness, loss of consciousness, and, if untreated, death.

Using mass spectrometry, the scientists studied the breath of eight women with type 1 diabetes, noting changes in the chemical signatures of their exhalations when their blood sugar levels were lowered to the point of hypoglycemia.

The increased in isoprene is too subtle for humans to smell, but with the ability to detect odors at concentrations of around one part per trillion, dogs are able to sense it.

The scientists aren’t sure why isoprene increases as blood sugar levels drop, but they suspect it might be a byproduct of cholesterol.

Their findings were published in the July issue of the journal Diabetes Care.

The research could lead the way to developing medical sensors that replicate some of what diabetic alert dogs do, providing diabetics with an alternative to frequent blood testing, said lead researcher, Mark Evans.

“It’s our vision that a new breath test could at least partly – but ideally completely – replace the current finger-prick test, which is inconvenient and painful for patients, and relatively expensive to administer.”

Woof in Advertising: Tuna befouls the VW

That trio of sassy grandmothers currently being featured in a series of Volkswagen ads has a new traveling companion — a Chiweenie with an overbite — and true to his name (Tuna) he’s stinking up the place.

In the ad, the grandmas detect an odor in the vehicle, which they at first blame on it being diesel-powered. After some continued sniffing, they determine the real source of the foul smell: It’s Tuna.

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Tuna — that’s his real name — had achieved some major fame even before appearing in the ad, with more than 1.5 million followers on his Instagram page.

And he’s already published his own book, “Tuna Melts My Heart: The Underdog with an Overbite.”

On top of that, he has his own Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as his own website.

According to that website, Tuna is a 4 year-old Chiweenie (Chihuahua-dachshund mix) with an exaggerated overbite who was rescued in 2010 by Courtney Dasher at a Farmers Market in LA.

Within a year, Dasher created an Instagram account dedicated to Tuna’s photos. By the end of 2012, he had hundreds of thousands of followers.

tuna

Dasher said her goal was to “bring people joy through Tuna’s pictures that showcased his cartoonish looks and his charming personality.”

“Since Tuna is the epitome of the underdog, most people advocate for him and adore him for his endearing qualities. His loyal followers embrace his physical differences, have fallen in love with his charm and connect to his message; that true beauty comes in all forms and radiates from within.

“Furthermore, he is an ambassador for animal rescue, since he too was once rescued, and it has become a part of Courtney’s mission to raise awareness for rescue groups through this platform.”

Dasher met Tuna at an adoption event after he’d been found discarded on the side of the road near San Diego.

You can find more of our “Woof in Advertising” posts — looking at how dogs are used in marketing — here.

(Photo: Instagram)

Dog complaint from neighbor leads homeowner to retaliate with striped siding

paint

When a neighbor complained about their dogs, the residents of a home in a quiet Chicago suburb responded by loudly repainting the side of their house that faces the complainant — in bright yellow, orange and purple stripes.

“It’s a slap, it’s absolutely a clear message of retaliation,” one resident of the 400 block of Longfellow Streeet, Leigh Van Heule, told the Daily Herald.

Early this summer, at least one neighbor filed a complaint with the Glen Ellyn Police Department that led to Julie A. Dombroski being fined for having four dogs in the home, one more than allowed by village code.

A day after the ticket was issued, a man began painting the siding on one side of the house in which Dombroski lives, one row at a time.

Patricia Amabile, who lives in the house facing the striped siding, says she’s at “a loss of what to do.”

Dombroski and her grown children reportedly moved into the home a few years ago, sharing it with a man who has lived there most of his life.

A man who answered the door of the painted house Friday morning declined to comment, and messages on the home’s answering machine Friday and Monday weren’t returned, the Daily Herald reported.

Amabile and other neighbors say they’ve tried to talk with the dog owners, but they refuse.

Some residents of the block say the homeowners didn’t clean up after their dogs all summer, resulting in foul smells. Neighbors contacted the DuPage County Health Department, which conducted an inspection and ordered the homeowner to clean up the waste.

The dogs, apparently German shepherd and Lab-pit bull mixes, also are known for getting loose in the neighborhood, neighbors said, and police confirmed that one had been involved a dog bite case.

“We don’t have to like each other,” Amabile said. “We just have to be civil. That’s what everybody wants … All we wanted was for them to take care of their yard and take care of their dogs.” she said.

Insulted as some neighbors feel about the paint job, some of those commenting on the Daily Herald website yesterday said they actually liked the look, and praised the homeowners for bringing a little color to the otherwise drab suburbs.

(Photo: By Bill Ackerman / Shawmedia.com)

How a dog sees a rainbow

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Dogs aren’t truly color blind, but they do see a lesser range of hues than humans do.

They may have better hearing than us, and be far superior to us at sniffing things out, but when it comes to seeing rainbows they don’t have as much to get excited about as we do.

Dogs have only two types of cone cells, which are responsible for color vision, enabling them to see blue and yellow — and their various mixes.

Most of us humans have three different types of cone cells, allowing us to see red, green and blue, and all combinations of those colors.

As this graphic from the Washington Post’s Wonkblog shows, dogs miss out on reds and oranges and generally enjoy a less vivid spectrum of colors.

rainbow

But before you start feeling superior, consider that we’re probably not seeing all there is to see in a rainbow, either.

Butterflies may have up to five cone receptors, while the mantis shrimp has 12. They are fluttering around, or swimming around, seeing colors we’ve never seen.

(Imagine what a butterfly shrimp might see, if it weren’t breaded and fried.)

Quick science lesson: Colors are just different wavelengths of visible light, so the color of an object depends on what kinds of light it absorbs and reflects. What bounces back and hits our eyes is processed by our brain. Then and only then can we pronounce that the sky is blue, or that the dress is black and blue, or white and gold.

dressHumans on the Internet (which are slightly different than humans) recently spent weeks debating whether a dress shown in a picture was blue with black fringe, or white with gold fringe.

And everyone of them — unlike shrimp, butterflies and dogs — was absolutely sure that what they saw was right.

While other species may have more finely honed senses of smell, sight and sound, we humans have a much more refined sense of smugness, and we lead all species when it comes to the senses — or are they sins? — of pride, envy and greed.

That’s why,  when it comes to rainbows, many of us are most concerned with the pot of gold (or is it blue?) that’s at the end of it.

I’ve given up on finding that, but I would, just once, like to see a rainbow as a butterfly does.

As for that dress, the fact that its color was more debated by women than men isn’t too surprising.

Not only are women less affected by colorblindness (because the genes encoding red and green receptors are located on the X-chromosome, of which men only have one and women have two), but they also have a higher potential of being “tetrachromats” – people with four types of color receptor cells instead of three.

Though the evidence remains inconclusive, some researchers believe this fourth receptor allows tetrachromats to see a wider range of colors.

I’m not sure if consensus was ever reached in the great dress debate, and I don’t really care.

But if you simply must have a final answer, ask a shrimp.

(Photos: Ace at Salvation Mountain in California, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; graphic from the Washington Post; photo of dress from ABC News)

Did the scent of sizzling bacon draw missing pit bull puppy back to her foster home?

A pit bull puppy, still recovering from being abused by dogfighters, ran off from her foster home in New Jersey, but she was apparently drawn back by the smell of bacon.

Or it could have been the love.

Misty, only nine months old, was found on a Brooklyn street corner earlier this month, covered in wounds and bites from being used as a bait dog.

She was placed in a city shelter, then pulled by Second Chance Rescue, which moved her into a foster home. On Friday, she escaped from the backyard of that home.

Friends and neighbors joined in on the weekend-long search. Thousands of flyers were posted, and a $2,000 reward was offered. More than $4,500 was quickly raised to help in the search, and more than 14,000 people had, by Monday, “liked” her Facebook page.

But it was bacon — not social media — that apparently led to her safe return.

“The whole thing is unbelievable,” Misty’s foster mom, Erin Early-Hamilton, told NJ.com.

When someone suggested slapping some bacon on the backyard grill to lure the dog home, Early-Hamilton — despite being a vegan — was willing to give it a try.

She was sitting in a chair, and her husband was at the grill, when Misty came wandering home around 2 p.m. Monday.

(Photo: Facebook)