Saturday, October 31, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Ever wonder what your dog is thinking when he slurps your face like a lollipop? Is he just saying hello—or planting the canine version of a kiss on your cheek? Although we may never know the real answer, it helps to understand the psychology of the lick.
As any dog owner knows, dogs lick often and for a variety of reasons. For example, mothers lick their puppies to clean them and stimulate their urination and defecation. From about six weeks of age, some pups lick their mom's face and lips when they want her to regurgitate food for them. This behavior is a remnant of their wild ancestry—it was easier for the mother to carry food in her stomach rather than dragging it back to the den in her mouth.
Pack members lick to communicate
As puppies grow older, they lick to groom themselves and their pack mates. It also becomes a way of welcoming others back into the pack and increasing the bonds between pack members.
Adult dogs lick as a sign of deference or submissiveness to a dominant pack member. The dog doing the licking usually lowers its body to make itself smaller, and looks up, adding to the effect of subordinate behavior. The dog receiving the face licks shows its dominance by standing tall to accept the gesture, but doesn't return the favor.
Interpreting your dog's lick
Now when your dog tries to lick your face, you might have a better idea of what he's trying to communicate. He may simply be letting you know that he's glad to see you. Or he may be hungry and asking for a snack. Obviously, you won't regurgitate some food at that signal, but you might give him a treat.
But can his enthusiastic licks also represent a sign of affection? Here's one way to look at it. A dog's behavior can be encouraged with positive reinforcement. So if a dog licks his owner's face—either out of instinct, anxiety, or just because his owner's face tastes salty—and that action is greeted with positive attention, such as hugs and human kisses, he'll want to repeat the behavior. While it's probably not a "kiss," you can bet it's a sign that your dog thinks you're pretty great.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Friday, October 23, 2015
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Louie the Beagle just became a big brother! This overjoyed pup cried at the very sight of seeing his new furry sister. Now, the curious duo can’t be separated. Watch their heartwarming meeting complete with exploratory playtime around the yard.
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Monday, October 19, 2015
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Saturday, October 17, 2015
Watching those intricately choreographed ballets of intention in the park, I realized that to each other, dogs speak loud and clear. Humans, by contrast, have real trouble deciphering their language. Though dogs have been our best friends for tens of thousands of years, they still read us far more skillfully than we read them.We tend to think that dogs have relatively little to say because they don’t speak our language, but we are too focused on speech: Witness the tourist hoping to be understood by repeating a request ever more slowly and loudly, or the dog being scolded “Come here!” as he runs merrily away. Dogs are constantly asking us to listen, just not with our ears.
The language of dogs is primarily visual, enacted with their bodies. They speak with the direction of their gaze, the tilt of their tails, the distance they keep and the arc of their movement. Canine language is rich for the same reason ours is: We are both social, cooperative species.
Remaining ignorant of our companions’ modes of expression is not only a frustrating limit on our mutual sympathy. It is also dangerous for us and for them. Some 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. each year, many of them children (for those 4 and under, most of the bites are to the face and neck).
Dogs are generally quite adept at telegraphing warnings, so it’s our job to learn to read them better. This is also in their interest, since “behavior problems”—often the result of misunderstood canine expressions—are a leading reason that owners have to surrender or euthanize their dogs.
So what are dogs trying to tell us?
It’s all in the ears, tail and body.
The baseline posture of a relaxed dog includes having ears up and tail down. In an alert, often transitional, posture, the tail is held straight behind, the ears go forward, and the entire carriage raises. A fearful or anxious dog tucks his tail, lowers his body and pulls back the corners of his mouth. If his hackles (the hairs along the back of his neck) are raised and his nose wrinkled, he is saying he just might bite if pressed further.
Similarly, the dog whose tail is stiff and wagging slowly (not all wagging denotes pleasure), with ears forward and carriage following suit, may be announcing imminent attack. If he freezes, pupils dilated and staring hard, he is to be taken at his word: Watch out.
Some dogs growl before biting and some don’t; the canine body speaks louder than the voice. That is why dogs whose tails are docked or ears cropped lose some of their linguistic fluency. And it’s why some of our grooming choices, such as the poodle’s topknot, cause trouble when they are misread by other dogs as heightened carriage.
They’re sorry, in many different ways.
For the same reason that Eskimos purportedly have 50 different words for snow, dogs have a vast repertoire of gestures for appeasement and propitiation. The Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas has identified some 30 “calming signals”—movements offered to deflect trouble (which may also relieve stress in both giver and receiver). Supremely subtle, sometimes so quick we don’t notice them, these appeasing signals include a flick of the tongue; turning the head or gaze away; suddenly sniffing the ground or sitting; yawning; shaking off; or approaching on a curve.
Please skip the hugs.
For a dog, what comes naturally to us primates when we overflow with affection feels like a threat. The desire to hug is one of the hardest reflexes for us to overcome, but reaching across a dog’s neck is an act of intimidation. He may tolerate it, but he doesn’t like it.
Like many dog owners, I do it anyway, but I’m always watchful: My current dog, Nelly, flashes her tongue to her nose or looks away during a hug, subtle but unequivocal responses to what she views as aggression. When strangers bend over dogs or reach out to pat their heads, or when children latch on to their necks—or stare into their eyes, another threatening gesture—many dogs will react with a volley of appeasements. If these go unheeded, they may feel forced to defend themselves. This is often why small children get bites to their faces, conveniently presented at muzzle level. Viral Internet photos to the contrary, it is not cute when toddlers lie on top on dogs or pull their ears; it is a lit fuse.
That’s not a guilty look.
The jury is still out on whether dogs experience guilt or shame, but chances are that “the look” popularly ascribed to a dog who has done something wrong is actually fear or anxiety prompted by the expectation of anger from the owner. Things commonly punished by us—“stealing” food, urinating on the rug—are hardly immoral to a creature whose values are so different from ours. The furrowed brow, half-moon eyes, slinky posture and lowered head of the canine “wrongdoer” are not an apology; they are signs of stress or requests to desist.
They love you too. My dog, and probably yours, has a special way of greeting those she loves: I call it helicopter-tail. (Nelly’s earsplitting screams of joy are peculiar to her.) Other signs of happiness are unmistakable and easier to read by humans than many of dogs’ other communications: a “rocking-horse” run, as vertical as it is forward; the greeting stretch (followed by “pretty please” front paws on your leg); the C-shaped body bend—the better to maneuver a butt for that all-pleasing scratch—and the smile.
Yes, dogs do smile. No translation needed.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Monday, October 12, 2015
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Friday, October 09, 2015
Thursday, October 08, 2015
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Monday, October 05, 2015
Sunday, October 04, 2015
Saturday, October 03, 2015
Friday, October 02, 2015
"That's Ken and Henry," Paula says, pointing to the slim, midsize dogs with floppy ears and long snouts. Both dogs are tan, gray and white, with similar markings. "I put a red collar on Ken and a black collar on Henry so I can tell who's who."
Ken and Henry are genetically identical, though not exact replicas. They're clones of the Duponts' last dog, Melvin — created when scientists injected one of Melvin's skin cells, which contained all of his DNA, into a donor egg that had been emptied of its original DNA.
Ken and Henry are two of only about 600 dogs that have been cloned since scientists at Sooam Biotech, a suburban company near Seoul, South Korea, developed the technology to create cloned canines.
The Duponts sat down with Shots to explain why they decided to clone Melvin.
"He was different," says Phillip Dupont. "Of all the dogs I had, he was completely different."
Melvin was supposed to be a Catahoula leopard dog, Louisiana's state dog (sometimes called a Catahoula hound). Turned out, Melvin was a mutt, probably part Catahoula and part Doberman.
"I paid $50 for him," says Phillip. "But I wasn't going to return it. I thought for a while I was going to put him to sleep." Then he changed his mind. "Turned out to be the best dog I ever owned."
"He listened," says Phillip. "You could talk to him and you swore he understood what you were talking about. It was weird."
So a couple of years ago, when Melvin was about 9 and starting to show his age, the Duponts turned to a lab in South Korea. Even though the process would cost them $100,000, the couple decided to do it. They'd already spent that much on a Humvee, Phillip notes. "So, what the heck?"
He sent some of Melvin's skin cells off to the lab — the only place in the world that is cloning dogs for pet owners. The first cloned puppy soon died from distemper. The lab tried again, this time producing two healthy clones.
"It was hard," says Phillip, choking back tears.
Having the clones — Ken and Henry — helped the couple cope with the loss.
"They come running through the house and jump in your lap — a 75-pound dog sitting in your lap, watching TV." They still miss Melvin, they say, but having two more dogs so similar to him has helped "quite a bit."
Most of the dogs cloned so far have been for grieving pet owners. Some have been for police agencies looking for special skills — bomb-sniffing, for example.
"If you love dogs and you really want to have your companion animal cloned, you really do need to take very seriously the health and well-being of all the dogs that would be involved in this process," says Insoo Hyun, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University.
To clone a dog you need to use a lot of other dogs to serve as egg donors and surrogates, Hyun explains, and that means many dogs are undergoing surgical procedures. Most of the time the process doesn't work; many attempts are required to produce a single clone.
"I think there are probably better ways to spend $100,000 if you really care about animals," Hyun says.
"All cloning does is reproduce the genome of your original pet," Hyun explains.
"But maybe the way your dog interacted with you — and even the way it looks — was also strongly environmentally influenced." You can never duplicate that kind of influence, Hyun says.
When pressed about how much the clones are really alike, the Duponts admit there are little differences, much as differences show up among identical twins. The white stripe on Henry's nose is a lot wider than Ken's, and Henry weighs a bit less. Ken is more of a loner. But that's about it for differences, the couple insists.
"They're so much like Melvin it's unreal," Phillip Dupont says. So far, he adds, both clones seem perfectly healthy.
As far as whether other dogs suffered in creating theirs — the Duponts dismiss that notion, based on what they saw at the lab when they visited twice to pick up their clones.
"Even though South Koreans eat dogs, they love their pets," Phillip says. "They've got rooms for these dogs to sleep in, with beds. They've got technicians who sleep with the dogs. And [the dogs] are all well cared for."
He says the lab staff told him that after dogs have served as donors or surrogates, "they're fixed up and go to new homes." (Sooam Biotech did not confirm or deny that assertion when NPR asked what happens to the dogs the company uses as donors and surrogates).
The Duponts also say they don't feel bad about spending so much money to create cloned dogs, when so many other dogs need homes.
There will always be strays on the road and too many dogs at the animal shelter, because irresponsible owners don't spay or neuter their pets, Paula says. In contrast, she says, families that clone their pets don't do it "with the idea of producing 10 more. We're looking at having the one special dog again."
Or, in their case, two special dogs again, and maybe one more. The Duponts are already talking about cloning Melvin again — for their grandson.
Thursday, October 01, 2015
- The longest ears on a dog measured 31.1 cm (12.25 in) and 34.3 cm (13.5 in) for the left and right ears, respectively, on 8 June 2010. They belong to Harbor, a Black and Tan Coonhound, who is owned by Jennifer Wert of Colorado, USA. Harbor is a 7 year old Coonhound (b. July 2003) who weighs a healthy 40.51kg (89.2 pounds).
- Who? - Harbor
- What? - 31.1 centimetre(s)
- Where? - United States Boulder