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Tag: sounds

Law & Order theme triggers howls

Why some dogs react the way they do to certain songs and sounds would probably make for an interesting scientific study.

Until then, we have YouTube, where a mounting number of videos, it has been noted, show dogs howling along with — or in objection to — the theme from “Law & Order.”

It’s not the first time multiple dog owners have noticed certain songs seem to cause their pets to vocalize, and captured the result on video. Remember all those videos of dogs singing along with Gwen Stefani’s “Sweet Escape?”

Just as only some dogs howl at sirens, some howl at Gwen Stefani and, for reasons just as mysterious, at the Law & Order theme. Whether they are expressing discomfort or joining the chorus, we don’t really know.

In any event, for an impressive array of dogs howling at “Law & Order,” check out the compilation video above, or visit nastynets.com.

This Goblin makes life a little less haunting

Pets Creature Hearing DogsRay Dobson was losing his hearing. Goblin, rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico, needed a home.

When they were brought together by the National Education for Assistance Dog Service, two problems were solved.

Dobson, Goblin and organizations like NEADS, which trains dogs from shelters to assist the hearing impaired, were the subject of an Associated Press story this week.

Based in Princeton, Mass., NEADS has placed more than 1,300 hearing dogs all over the country since 1976.

“What the dog does for me is hears what I can’t hear,” said Dobson of Orleans, Mass. “She can hear the phone ringing, alarms, knocking on the door, when people call my name.”

The dogs chosen for this job have to have special qualities — often exactly the qualities that land them in shelters.

“The hearing dog is usually the dog no one wants,” says Brian Jennings, who’s been a trainer at NEADS for 20 years. “It’s usually hyperactive, willful, compulsive. They have to be. If the dog wakes you in the middle of the night because the smoke alarm’s going off and you push them away, they have to not give up.”

The dogs are trained to touch the owner and lead him physically to the source of certain sounds.

Trainers look for dogs who are curious about sounds, but also very confident — the kind of dogs that may have driven their original owners crazy with their hyperactivity.

“Sometimes a dog’s weakness is its strength,” Jennings said

NEADS has no physical requirement for hearing dogs. “We’ve had everything from Chihuahuas to German shepherds,” says Jennings, and most of them, like Goblin, are mixed breeds.

Bark 3: “Bowlingual” gadget translates barks

bowlingualSo, if there’s no deep meaning behind barks (not that we buy that study), how do you explain this?

Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy is coming out with a new “Bowlingual” gadget that can translate dog barks into the human language, AFP reports.

The new model analyzes six emotions, including joy, sadness and frustration, and speaks phrases such as “Play with me!” — an improvement on the original which just showed them on a screen.

The original version of the toy, which has a handset and a microphone attached to a dog collar, won the Ig Nobel Prize in 2002. The awards, a parody of the Nobel Prizes, celebrate achievements that make people laugh and think.

The new Bowlingual Voice, priced at about $212, will be launched in Japan next month, Yamada said.

Initially, it will be only available in Japanese. The original non-speaking version is also available in English and Korean.

Bark 2: Study says barks have little meaning

What’s your barking dog trying to say?

Nothing in particular, according to a University of Massachusetts study. It concludes dogs do not bark differently in different circumstances; rather, they have one all purpose bark to ward off predators and deal with conflict.

“What we’re saying is that the domestic dog does not have an intentional message in mind, such as, ‘I want to play’ or ‘the house is on fire,'” said Kathryn Lord, a University of Massachusetts, Amherst doctoral candidate, who worked to define the bark.

She believes the dog bark evolved about 10,000 years ago, when dogs needed to stand their ground to eat at human dumpsites. Instead of running away every time a human came near, they participated in mobbing behavior, bravely barking to intimidate intruders instead of running away and wasting food energy.

Lord pointed out that not all dog noises are barks, and that the other noises might have other motivations behind them, according to a WCVB TV report.

But as for barks, she insists, dog’s aren’t trying to tell us anything, just voice their “internal conflict.”

“There’s no deep cognitive understanding, and I think that upsets a lot of people,” she said.

Dogs had no comment on the study.

Getting (a little) serious about dog poop

Every day in Seattle, where dogs outnumber children, 41,250 pounds of poop exits dogs and lands on the otherwise fair city, according to the Seattle Times.

In a year (who says newspapers don’t cover the important stuff anymore) that adds up to 15.1 million pounds, but it also leads to a lot of confrontations between neighbors, between dog owners and animal-control officers, and between dog owners and passers-by — not to mention steppers-in.

And, actually, it is important stuff.

The non-scoopers among us — and you know who you are — aren’t just contributing to an erosion in the quality of life, but to health problems as well.

When it rains, as it often does in Seattle, dog poop can run into storm drains, and then into lakes and streams and eventually Puget Sound. In Baltimore, it can take a similar route and end up in the Inner Harbor, and other, more frolic-worthy waterways.

Dave Ward, principal watershed steward for Snohomish County in Washington, notes that kids thinking they are playing in a pristine stream could actually be coming into contact with roundworms, E. coli and Giardia.

“Pet waste comes consistently to the top as one of the principal sources of contamination in urban waterways,” Ward said.

The Times story goes on to recount some of the nasty confrontations dog poop has led to in Seattle, where citations ($54 a whack) can be issued not just for failing to scoop poop, but for failure to carry proper poop-scooping equipment.

In 2007, Seattle — home to an estimated 125,000 dogs — issued 65 citations related to dog poop, from failing to scoop in parks to allowing accumulation of feces on one’s property.

(Graphic by Clyde Peterson, official ohmidog! cartoonist)