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Music to their ears: Musician’s song for edgy dogs seems to near instantly soothe them

A musician who calls himself “gnash” researched, composed and recorded a song he hoped would calm his own rescue dog’s restlessness, and he says it’s working — not just for Daisy, but for entire rooms of shelter dogs.

Daisy — the dog Garrett Nash, or gnash, shares with his girlfriend — is prone to becoming “super snippy when she’s not medicated,” he says, and at those time she’s prone to nipping almost anyone within reach.

“I’m a dog lover and I make music, so I was trying to connect the two,” he explained. “I was just thinking maybe, since Daisy was hanging out with me every day in the studio, well then maybe there’s a way that I could make her calm down a little bit.”

He talked to an animal behaviorist, then contacted the team at Glasgow University who had done a study on music that calms shelter dogs — one that found reggae seemed to work best.

He learned what sounds most appealed to dogs, what tempos and tones and repetitions showed evidence of calming them.

gnashThen he headed to studio with friends and got to work, ending up with Daisy’s Song — a soothing, restrained and not too reggae-like number that incorporated what he’d learned and, more important, seemed to work on Daisy.

When they tested it out, with Daisy seated next to a friend she’s always seemed particularly prone to nipping at, it was nearly magical.

You can view the results in the video at the end of this post. Suffice to say, before the song ended, Daisy was relaxed and nuzzling up against the chest of that friend she seemed so fearful of minutes earlier.

Exactly what Daisy’s condition is I can’t say. In the video below, gnash seems to be saying the dog has “a thing in her brain called a shiner (?) that makes her super snippy when she’s not medicated”

I’m no vet, though, and I couldn’t find any references to a disorder known by that name. (Those with a better grasp or understanding are welcome to comment and fill me in.) The closest I could come was progressive retinal atrophy, which can cause a shining to appear in a dog’s eyes, can affect behavior and can lead to eventual blindness.

After the song seemed to work on Daisy, gnash took the track to the adoption center of No Kill LA, a shelter operated by Best Friends Animal Society.

There, too, the song seemed to have a calming presence. During a listening session, the dogs in the room grew less frantic, seemed more restful and content.

The song, and the video about its making, were posted last week on YouTube last week, where those leaving comments are reporting varying results:

“Both of my dogs were anxious-one about a storm, and one tearing up a toilet paper tube,” wrote one. “I played this, and both are now peaceful, laying down and sleeping. I am impressed. I’m thinking of a nap myself.”

“My boxer went from licking everything in site to snoring in 4 minutes,” wrote another.

“My dog is really hyper he never sits for too long on my lap, but this actually made him sit for 10 minutes and I could tell he was listening… Loved this.”

Some dog-less comment leavers reported it put them asleep, some said they loved it whether it works or not, and one said all his dog did was lick his privates.

But weed out all the goons and trolls, and the response seems mostly to affirm that gnash achieved what he was trying to do, and more.

I played it for my dog Jinjja. He was lying down when it started. He lifted his head, his ears perked up, and he started gazing around the room and ceiling. His breathing seemed to slow down. He came over to be petted, looked out the window and laid back down, his muzzle between his paws. He lay still for the next eight minutes of the song, eyes closed and his ears periodically flicking back and forth, then finally got up and exited the room at the 12-minute mark.

“Going into this, my hopes were that I was gonna make the song, play it for Daisy and a couple of other dogs and hopefully they would react in a way that would make them a little more chill,” gnash said.

Already, the results seem to be going beyond that, and raise hopes that it could serve to calm dogs in shelters, which only increases their chances of adoption.

“It’s cool because maybe like humans will be able to find this on YouTube and show it to their friends, and then maybe they’ll play the song for their dogs and then maybe humans will love it and pets will love it too and it will make everybody smile a little bit more and that’s all I care about.”

Interior Department may let the dogs in

zinke

The Interior Department’s new secretary (Trump appointee Ryan Zinke) has told his employees that he plans to let them bring their dogs to work on a trial basis.

Zinke announced in an email to employees Thursday morning the start of “Doggy Days at Interior,” a program that will launch with test runs at the agency’s Washington headquarters on two Fridays, one in May and one in September, the Washington Post reported.

“I’m taking action to establish a pilot program for Doggy Days at Interior!” Zinke said in the email to Washington-area employees. The email included two photographs of him with his wife, Lolita, and their 18-month-old black and white Havanese, Ragnar.

Zinke made a splash when he rode a horse to work on his first day on the job.

zinke2The new dog-friendly policy will be a first in federal government offices, not counting congressional offices, where members have long been bringing dogs to work.

Whether it ends up being an open-ended and ongoing invitation, or just a couple of days a year when employees can bring their dogs to work, the new policy would make Interior the first federal agency to go at least a little dog-friendly.

While former CIA director Leon Panetta was known to sometimes bring his dog to work, government rules prohibit it. General Services Administration Rule 102-74.425 states that: “No person may bring dogs or other animals on Federal property for other than official purposes.”

Particulars of the Interior Department pilot program remain to be worked out, such as whether there will be size or weight limits. Likely, participating dogs would have to be housebroken, be up to date on vaccinations and stay on their leashes.

Zinke, an avid hunter, former Navy SEAL and congressman representing Montana, portrays himself as both an outdoorsman and a dog lover. Earlier this this month, he arrived at his new workplace astride Tonto, a bay roan gelding who belongs to the U.S. Park Police and resides in stables on the Mall.

His email referred to his own dog, and the times they have shared.

“Opening the door each evening and seeing him running at me is one of the highlights of my day,” it reads. “I can’t even count how many miles I’ve driven across Montana with (Ragnar) riding shotgun, or how many hikes and river floats Lola and I went on with the little guy. But I can tell you it was always better to have him.”

Zinke said his dog policy’s primary goal is to boost morale at the agency, which includes the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and six other departments.

Interior ranked 11th in employee morale of the 18th largest federal agencies in last year’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey, with just 61 percent of its 70,000 employees saying they’re happy in their jobs.

(Top photo: Zinke, wife Lola, and dog Ragnar, courtesy of Department of Interior; lower photo from The Washington Post)

Could a DNA test prove dog’s innocence?

Up to now, DNA testing on dogs has been used mostly to satisfy owner curiosity over what breeds are in their mutt, or by apartment managers who want to identify dogs whose owners didn’t pick up after them.

Now comes a chance to put it to more noble use. (Cue up the “Law & Order” theme.)

jebThe owners of a Belgian Malinois accused of killing a neighbor dog say a DNA test could clear their dog of a murder rap.

A district judge in Michigan ordered Jeb, the Belgian Malinois, to be euthanized after hearing the evidence against him on Sept. 19.

But Jeb’s owners, Pam and Kenneth Job, have filed a motion for DNA testing to be conducted on the dead dog, a Pomeranian named Vlad.

Vlad died Aug. 24, and his owner, St. Clair resident Christopher Sawa, says he saw Jeb standing over his dog’s body. Both dogs were inside his backyard.

St. Clair County Animal Control took possession of Jeb after that.

Vlad was found with severe bruising over both shoulders and a puncture wound on his right front leg. There was another deep wound found on his left side that penetrated his chest and broke two ribs, the Detroit Free Press reported.

vladThe veterinarian who examined Vlad said his injuries were consistent with being picked up and shaken by a larger animal.

Ed Marshall, the lawyer for the Jobs, is asking the judge to allow them time to have an independent lab test conducted on Vlad’s body — to see if traces of Jeb’s DNA can be found in his wounds.

A hearing on his motion is set for Monday.

The Jobs say Jeb is an unofficial service dog who helps Kenneth with a condition that causes his muscles to deteriorate.

They say Jeb is a gentle soul and that Vlad’s death could have been caused by a fox or coyote, both of which can be seen from time to time in the rural area in which they live.

Kennel Club says tests show Jagger was not poisoned during Crufts

jagger

Jagger, the Irish setter who died little more than a day after competing at Crufts, was poisoned — but they are now all but certain it was not during the dog show, UK Kennel Club officials say.

Citing reports from independent toxicologists, a Kennel Club spokesperson said Jagger died from meat cubes tainted with two fast acting poisons — carbofuran and aldicarb (both banned insecticides in the EU) that would have led to symptoms and death within a few hours of being consumed.

On top of that, the fact that the meat cubes in his stomach weren’t fully digested indicate he ate the cubes after he returned home to Belgium Friday, March 6, Kennel Club officials said.

All those other unsubstantiated poisonings at Crufts — some media reports alluded to as many as six — were just rumors and were found to have no basis, according to The Guardian.

Jagger, who competed under the name Thendara Satisfaction, won second place in his category. He died between 24 and 48 hours after leaving Crufts.

The Kennel Club’s secretary, Caroline Kisko, said the report shows it was “inconceivable” that Jagger could have been poisoned while at the dog show.

“Considering we are told that Jagger showed the first clinical signs usually associated with these two poisons shortly before his death in Belgium, late on the night of Friday 6 March, leading to the immediate call for veterinary attention, we must conclude that it is inconceivable that he could have been poisoned at Crufts on Thursday 5 March, some 28 to 36 hours earlier.

“There has been a lot of concern about whether the poisoning happened at Crufts and we are now able to reassure all dog-lovers who came to Crufts that this could not have been possible,” she added.

Jagger’s owners, Aleksandra Lauwers, Dee Milligan-Bott and Jeremy Bott believed the dog had been poisoned during the competition.

In a statement they released yesterday, they offered little comment on where else Jagger might have ingested the poison and expressed “disappointment” in the way Crufts officials handled the tragedy.

“We feel we did everything possible to quell the media frenzy that was eager to sensationalise this sad situation,” the owners said.

“We would have welcomed being offered expert advice, from a professional corporation such as the Kennel Club and Crufts organisation, on dealing with the intrusive worldwide media whose only interest in this case was obviously because of the link with Crufts.

“That would have been helpful, rather than the cold, impersonal emails and their own press comments regretting that Jagger had died after the show (and) may have avoided the terrible media circus that ensued.”

 (Photo: from Dee Milligan-Bott)

The DNA results are in on Pig

pig1

They say everything has a beginning, a middle and an end, but when it comes to an Alabama dog named Pig, she seems to have gotten short-changed on that middle part.

Between her sizable head and her rear end, there’s not much real estate, and as a result of her abbreviated torso, taking her out in public has always led to a lot of stares, and a lot of questions — chief among them, “What kind of dog is that?”

What accounts for Pig’s unusual appearance is called short spine syndrome, a birth defect that prevents the spine from fully forming and often makes everyday tasks — like running, jumping and eating — difficult.

Dogs with the disorder — though it can compress their organs and lead to health problems as they grow — generally can lead normal lives, and reach their full life expectancy.

They can also, as in Pig’s case, become international celebrities.

Pig developed a large following after appearing at this year’s Do Dah Day festival in Birmingham. She was featured in a story on AL.com, and her Facebook page, “Pig the Unusual Dog,” created in June, has more than 76,500 followers.

pig2Now, following up on just what it is that makes Pig Pig, AL.com reports that her owner, Kim Dillenbeck of Helena, has received the results of a DNA test she had conducted on the dog to determine what breeds are in her.

A Wisdom Panel test says Pig is a Boxer, Chow Chow, American Staffordshire Terrier mix.

Dillenbeck who has heard guesses ranging from her dog being half rabbit to half not there, was surprised by the results.

“Everybody thought Akita,” Dillenbeck said. “I was was thinking something like a smaller dog, but I was wide open … Pig has all these interesting traits, and there are so many breeds out there.”

Other breeds showing up in the test results as possibilities include Portuguese Water Dog, Alaskan Klee Kai, Scottish deerhound, Lakeland terrier and Maltese.

Pig weighs in at just 16 pounds, much less than one of her siblings, who doesn’t have the disorder and weighs just under 40 pounds.

Dillenbeck’s experience with Pig led her to form the nonprofit Pig’s Foundation to help raise funds for people and organizations rescuing animals. Another mission of the foundation is to raise awareness that animals who look unusual can still have a happy life.

“Pig is her own breed,” Dillenbeck said. “To me, she is just one in a million. As much as I can see her potential in all these breeds, she is still just Pig.”

(Photos: Mark Almond / AL.com)

Iditadrug: Of Mackey, mushing and marijuana

mackeyThree-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey may have to mush without marijuana in next year’s race.

Iditarod Trail Committee officials have announced plans to test mushers for drugs and alcohol in March. Officials haven’t decided who will get tested, or when, where and how it will be done. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint,” said Stan Hooley, executive director of the committee.

Alaska law allows for personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, provided the use occurs at home. In addition, Mackey, as a throat cancer survivor, has a medical marijuana card that entitles him to use the drug legally for medical purposes.

Mackey admits marijuana has helped him stay awake and focused through the 1,100-mile race, but he insists it doesn’t give him an edge.

“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” Mackey told the Anchorage Daily News. “I think it’s a little bit ridiculous,” he said of the new policy. “It is a dog race, not a human race. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the race.”

While Iditarod dogs have long been tested for a lengthy list of prohibited substances, the humans they are pulling — despite the Iditarod having had an informal drug and alcohol policy since 1984 — never have.

Mackey doesn’t blame the Iditarod board for creating the new policy, but he contends he is being targeted by other mushers jealous of his three straight Iditarod titles.

Despite his medical marijuana clearance, Mackey said he will not pursue a therapeutic use exemption; instead, he’ll just abstain for a while.

“I’m going to pee in their little cup,” he said. “And laugh in their face.”

Police dog mistakenly euthanized

felonyA black Lab named Felony who worked for the police department in Howard Lake, Minnesota, escaped from his kennel, ended up at the local humane society and, after getting labeled aggressive, was euthanized.

Felony, 10 years old and nearing the end of his police career as a drug sniffer, was discovered missing on October 30 when a police officer arrived to pick him up for work.

Police immediately called the Wright County Humane Society. The dog wasn’t there. But he did end up there a day later when a Howard Lake resident found him and called the local dog catcher, KARE11 in the Twin Cities reported.

“Our officer contacted the Animal Humane Society on Friday evening shortly after contacting the dog catcher, said Chief Tracy Vetruba. “Unfortunately, at that time the dog catcher still had the dog, who he did not believe was our dog, and it ‘was’ our dog.”

With no tags or microchip on the dog,  a spokesperson for the Animal Humane Society said workers had no idea Felony was a K-9 officer. Felony was placed on a 5-day mandatory hold, during which he demonstrated aggressive behavior. Tests determined that he was dangerous and unadoptable, and Felony was euthanized, the humane society says.

“Our officers were devastated to learn that he was put down,” said Cheif Vetruba. “He will absolutely be missed by our officers.”

Howard Lake’s police chief will look into the events that led to Felony’s death as part of a larger examination of the department’s K-9 program, and he hopes to get a new dog for the department.