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Tag: swedish

Those living with a dog tend to live longer

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Dog owners have a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to a comprehensive new study published by a team of Swedish researchers.

The scientists followed 3.4 million people over the course of 12 years and found that adults who live alone and owned a dog were 33 percent less likely to die during the study than adults who lived alone without dogs.

In addition, the single adults with dogs were 36 percent less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, the study said.

While it’s already accepted that dog ownership can boost activity levels and lower blood pressure, especially among older people, the study was the largest to date on the health implications of owning a dog, according to WebMD.

The Swedish scientists analyzed seven national data registries in Sweden, including two dog ownership registers, to study the association between owning a dog and cardiovascular health.

And while their findings are Sweden-specific, they believe they probably apply to other European countries with a similar attitude to dog ownership.

Interestingly, they also found a connection between positive health effects and breeds.

“In general hunting type breeds had the most protective estimates, while mixed breeds and toy breeds the least,” said Tove Fall, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.

The study doesn’t explain how dogs may be responsible for providing protection from cardiovascular disease, but Tove speculated higher levels of activity and social contact lead to better health.

tove_dog_health“As a veterinarian I heard many stories on that vast impact a dog can have on their owner’s well-being and also on their physical activity levels,” she said.

The study’s authors suggested dog owners may have a lower risk because they walk more, feel less isolated and have more social contacts.

More than 3.4 million individuals, aged 40 to 80, were included in the study, which was published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Dog ownership was especially prominent as a protective factor in persons living alone, which is a group reported previously to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death than those living in a multi-person household,” said Mwenya Mubanga, a Ph.D. student at Uppsala University and the lead junior author of the study.

The link between dog ownership and lower mortality was less pronounced in adults who lived either with family members or partners, but still present, according to the study.

(Photo: My dog Ace; Tove, with her puppy, Vega)

IKEA launches a line aimed at pets

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Hang on to your allen wrenches, IKEA is getting into the pet market.

No, they won’t be selling some-assembly-required dachshunds, but they will be introducing a line called LURVIG (Swedish for “hairy” or “shaggy”), consisting of items the company says are tailor-made for pets.

IKEA says the comprehensive LURVIG pet product range was “created by pet loving designers” with support from “trained veterinarians” (as opposed, I guess, to veterinarians who have received no training).

In addition to the basic pet products — dog bowls and feeders, cat scratch mats, dog and cat beds — other offerings include very basic-looking furniture, like bookshelves, with one shelf designated to serve as a spot for your cat.

It appears no different from any other bookshelves. But leave the books off one shelf and, presto, it serves as a cozy place for your cat to curl up. Genius, right?

The dog blanket looks like any other furniture throw, and the tables look like any other tables.

ikeaThe only thing close to novel is a cat scratching pad that you can wrap around the leg of a table or chair, instantly turning it into a scratching post. (Only a trained veterinarian would be able to come up with something like that.)

Maybe there is more to come, but what’s been featured online so far is unimpressive, with all of the furniture appearing to be that trademark white laminated particle board.

It’s not the first time a company has taken a human product, made only the most minor, if any, variations, and re-designated it a dog product.

That’s marketing. Or, as the Swedish call it “marknadsföring.”

(Photos: IKEA)

What is it? What is it? What is it?

The video above is:

A. Retired Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ latest interspecies race challenger, Chewbacca, in training for their upcoming competition.

B. An advertisement for hair conditioner.

C. Cousin Itt, after falling into The Addams Family pool.

D. An Afhgan hound underwater.

“D” would seem the most obvious answer, given the camera eventually reveals a distinctive snout, but the mermaid-ish way the creature’s arms are stroking is not the least bit dog-like.

woof in advertisingIt’s actually an animation — one of a series of ads for Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company that provides payment services for online storefronts. It’s intended to depict how “smoothly” their transactions take place.

Get it?

Chief Marketing Officer David Sandström said he and is team were trying to think of the smoothest things possible to feature in a video ad. They eventually landed on the idea of a creature with flowing tresses gliding underwater.

“The hair was a big, big part of it,” he told The Daily Dot.

The video floated around for a year on YouTube, receiving little attention.

But when Klarna shared it last month on Instagram, it quickly went viral as people tried to figure out what exactly the swimming creature was.

That — creating the mystery — was the whole idea behind the ad, Sandström said.

“We want to create a feeling of, ‘What the f–k is this?’ It’s important to us that people don’t understand what it is. The internet loves strange things. The internet loves weird.”

And even people who aren’t sure what it is want to know where they can order one, Sandström said.

“People have emailed us saying they want one and asking where they can get one.”

Talking dogs: A device, from Sweden, that tells you what your dog is thinking

A group of Swedes is selling a device they say can translate your dog’s thoughts into English — and they’re seeking investors to help pay for further development of what they admit is a “work in progress.”

The first of many things we find questionable about this is why the young researchers at Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery — constantly on the lookout, they say, for “cool” and “awesome” things they can do with technology — wouldn’t be translating the thoughts of dogs into Swedish.

The only answers I can come up with are that either they are far more interested in making some money than in figuring out what goes on in a dog’s head, or they view the residents of dog-loving, English-speaking countries as more gullible, and more likely to fall for what they are peddling.

We did buy a lot of Abba albums after all, didn’t we?

Already, they’ve raked in more than $16,000 in their IndieGoGo fund-raising drive.

nomorewoofThe product is called No More Woof. It consists of a headset, worn by your dog, the (non-intrusive) sensors of which pick up EEG signals, and software that translates those signals, via loudspeaker, into thoughts.

Strangely, this company-made video (above) never shows the device in action, yet the inventors are ready to sell you one — either a basic model for $60, or an advanced model for $85, or a more advanced model for $300, or a really, really advanced model for $600.

The development firm also takes credit for inventing a hovering lamp that follows you from room to room, an iPad-charging rocking chair, and “Nebula 12,” described as an indoor cloud. They are currently at work on a flying carpet.

It’s no joke — even if No More Woof sounds pretty laughable.

So far, No More Woof has come up with only four distinguishable statements they can attribute to a dog, based on EEG readings: “I’m excited, “I’m tired, “I am hungry,” and “Who are you?” Once detected by the headset, they are voiced by a loudspeaker.

The bottom line, as we see it, is that they’ve come up with a way — or claim to have, at least — to make the most fascinating animal on earth boring.

Imagine a quiet evening at home, your headset-wearing dog at your side: “I’m hungry. I’m excited. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. I’m hungry.”

And this after you spend hours trying to set the whole thing up, using directions we can only assume will be Ikea-like.

The firm says it is trying to advance human-dog communication. But it doesn’t come across as being sincerely interested in that. It seems much more interested in fund-raising.

nsidNo More Woof’s Indiegogo page repeatedly stresses that the device, while already for sale, is still in development: “To be completely honest, the first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too.”

They don’t insist that you buy one. If you prefer, you can just send them some money for their continued research.

Our advice would be to hold on to your money, and if you want to communicate with your dog, spend more time with him or her, pay more attention to him or her, look more deeply into him and her, and make your relationship not one of giving and taking orders, but one of learning from each other and exploring life together.

You already know — or at least you should — when your dog is hungry, excited or tired.

Do we really need to be hearing a robot voice tell us that? Do we really need — even if it did work and could develop into something more sophisticated — to turn our intriguing companions into the equivalent of a nagging wife, demanding husband, whining kid, or, worse yet, Siri?

I prefer the silence. And, much as I often wonder what my own dog is thinking, I prefer the mystery.

(Photos and video from NoMoreWoof.com)

Scientists trace golden retriever disorder

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Scientists in Sweden have tracked down the source of sensory ataxic neuropathy (SAN) — a recently identified neurological disorder in golden retrievers.

The disease strikes goldens in puppyhood, causing them to move in an uncoordinated manner and have sensory deficits.

The researchers were able to trace back all affected offspring on the maternal side, over more than 10 generations, to a female that lived during the 1970s, confirming that SAN is caused by a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA.

The study by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institutet was published May 29 in the journal PLoS Genetics.

The researchers showed that about five percent of the golden retriever population in Sweden carries the mutation causing SAN — and that, with proper screening by breeders, the disorder could be eliminated.

“This is a good example of how a close collaboration between clinicians and geneticists led to a rapid detection of a harmful mutation that can now be eliminated from this dog population to reduce suffering and disease,” said co-author Karin Hultin Jäderlund.

Dogs getting dumber, researcher says

Purebred dogs are getting dumber and less agile because of the focus by breeders on appearance, scientists in Sweden say.

According to a report in the London Telegraph, the researchers say the change has taken place over the course of just a few generations.

While 19th century dogs were selected for breeding based on their strength and skills — such as guarding homes, retrieving quarry or watching over livestock — today’s dogs are more likely to be chosen strictly for their appearance. As a result, the researchers say, the are less responsive to commands and not as alert or attentive.

“Modern breeding practices are affecting the behavior and mental abilities of pedigree breeds as well as their physical features,” said Kenth Svartberg, an ethologist from Stockholm University and author of the research report.

Dr. Svartberg tested 13,000 dogs on characteristics such as sociability and curiosity to help him rate 31 different breeds. He found that those bred for appearance, and especially for shows, displayed reduced ability levels. He also found that attractive appearance was often linked with introversion and a boring personality.

The worst affected working breeds were smooth collies, once a herding dog, and Rhodesian ridgebacks, which were used for hunting.

(Image from My Dog’s Brain, by Vermont artist Stephen Huneck)