Now There Is Scientific Proof, Dogs Love Humans!

Like most dog lovers and dog parents, I believe that our dogs do love us. But until recently, there was no scientific proof that this was true. Thanks to Gregory Berns, M.D., Ph.D., a distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics at Emory University, we now have scientific proof.

Dr. Berns Dog Project took on the task of successfully completing an MRI brain scan of conscious and willing dogs. The dogs had to be conscious so that the MRI scan would show the conscious brain of the dog, which would be different from that of an unconscious dog. Plus the dogs had to be willing because an unwilling dog could provide inaccurate data. The dogs had to go through a lot of training to prepare for the MRI. They had to independently be able to get onto the patient table all by themselves, crawl into the MRI tube, rest their head in a type of cradle to keep their head still during the scan, remain completely still for 20 – 30 seconds at a time while enduring the loud noises of the MRI machine. Far from an easy task!

In Dr. Berns book, How Dogs Love Us A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, he went through the entire process of obtaining approval for the study, the use of dogs, the steps taken to prepare for the MRI, and the results of the brain scans. Dr. Berns was able to train two dogs to participate in the study. Both dogs successfully went through numerous MRI scans in order to collect data.

Dr. Berns states that the “data showed that their mental models included the identity of important people in their lives that persists even when the people aren’t even present.”

Dr. Berns continued to say that “the evidence continues to accumulate that not only are the dogs sensitive to where humans’ attention is directive, but dogs are also sensitive to the social context. They know when it is appropriate to attend to their human’s attention and when it is not. This means that dogs have more than a Theory of Behavior. They have a Theory of Mind.” Theory of Mind means that both humans and dogs can imagine what another might be thinking!

According to Dr. Berns, the Dog Projects purpose was to “understand the dog-human relationship from the dogs’ perspective, and the most important thing we learned was that dogs’ brains show evidence of Theory of Mind for humans. This means that they not only pay attention to what we do but what we think, and they change their behavior based on what they think we’re thinking.”

“People become intensely attached to their pets. … It is not an exaggeration to say that for many people, their pets are their primary relationships and that they love their cats and dogs more than people.” It is so nice to have scientific confirmation of the feelings I have for my dogs, and that they reciprocate those feelings as well. I thought that maybe I was just a crazy dog lady, which I still may be, but I am among many others!

 

Dog Identification ~ a MUST Have!

Everyday I receive an electronic newsletter called “Nextdoor”. Many neighborhoods around the country have this. What I find distressing in my neighborhood is the amount of Lost Dog or Found Dog notifications there are.

Dogs can be great escape artists to even the most watchful Dog Parent (unfortunately I know from first hand experience). Thankfully there are several easy ways to help your dog get returned for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One is obviously an ID Tag that attaches to the dogs collar. There are several cute styles available and all that is needed is the dogs name and your cell phone number.

Another is to make sure your dog is micro-chipped. Micro-chipping can be done by your veterinarian. With a micro-chip, you don’t have to worry about your dogs collar, and therefore their ID tag, coming off. A found dog can be taken to a veterinary office to be scanned and easily returned to their Dog Parent.

The third option is to license your dog with the state and attach the license to the dogs collar. Again a found dogs license number can be called in and contact information for the dog parents can be obtained. Assuring that the dog is returned to its home.

It is also important to know that if your dog ends up in a shelter, the shelter does check for ID Tags and micro-chipping.

I personally use all three forms of ID, the ID tag, License, and micro-chip. I will never forget the time when my Old English Sheepdog Sir Winston Thomas got out through the backyard gate. This was before cell-phones so his ID tag had my home phone number and address on it. Thank Goodness! I will never forget the sight of two very pretty blonde young ladies driving a white sports car with Winston sitting in-between them! They had tried calling me, then when I didn’t answer my phone, realized that I was out looking for him. Having my address, they were able to drive him home…back to me! I was sooo very happy to see him and extremely grateful to those ladies.

Make sure your Fur Baby can be returned to their home. Make sure that there is a way that you can be contacted when someone finds your dog!

Doggy Ice Cream!

A great cool treat for your dog during the summer is Doggy Ice Cream!

I found a very simple recipe, that even I can make, that my dog Nathan literally jumps for joy over!

32 oz Plain Yogurt                                                                                               1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter                                                                               3 Bananas sliced

Blend all three ingredients together until smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

That’s it!

Now how about an ice cream party for people and dogs?!

Beware of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Summer is here, so PLEASE take care of your dogs!

In several areas of the country, the temperatures are soaring to breaking record highs. Due to this Dog Parents need to be careful when taking their Fur Babies in car rides and out for walks.

Leaving your pet inside a car while you run into a store no matter how short of time, is an absolute No-No!!! Even with the windows cracked, the temperatures inside a car can sky-rocket fast! Here are the signs to watch out for. Remember, if it is too hot for you to walk barefoot outside, it is too hot for your pets!

Image Courtesy of Scottsdale Hills Animal Hospital

Dog fur is great protection against the cold but can be a problem in hot weather. This is because, unlike humans, dogs eliminate heat by panting. When panting isn’t enough, their body temperature rises. This can be fatal if not corrected quickly.

What To Watch For

Excessive panting and signs of discomfort indicate overheating. However, it is important to be aware of the ambient temperature and take appropriate preventative measures.

Primary Cause

Any hot environment can cause heatstroke, but the most common cause is careless actions such as leaving a dog in a car on a hot day or forgetting to provide shade to an animal kept outdoors.

Immediate Care

It is essential to remove the dog from the hot environment immediately and get immediate veterinary attention. Heatstroke can cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and abnormal clotting of blood. On the way to the veterinarian, travel with the windows open and the air conditioner on.

If veterinary care is not immediately possible, the following guidelines will help. If the dog is unconscious, make sure no water enters the nose or mouth as you follow these guidelines. Also, do not give the dog aspirin to lower its temperature; this can lead to other problems.

  1. Put your dog in the bath tub.
  2. Run a cool (not cold) shower over your pet, covering the whole body — especially the back of the head and neck.
  3. Allow the water to fill up the bathtub as you shower the dog. Keep the head elevated to prevent aspiration pneumonia.
  4. If getting the dog into the tub is impractical, use a garden hose to cool the dog or place him in a pool of cool water.
  5. Apply a cold pack to the dog’s head to help lower his body temperature — a packet of frozen vegetables works fine.
  6. Massage the legs. A vigorous rubbing helps the dog’s circulation and reduces the risks of shock.
  7. Let the dog drink as much cool or cold water as it wants. Adding a pinch of salt to the water bowl will help the dog replace the minerals it lost through panting.

The best medicine is to not allow your dog to get into this situation. As mentioned before, do not leave your dog in a car. Do not take them for walks when it is hot. Do not leave your dog outside without shade or water. Remember, your dog depends on you to give them a good life.

*Heat Stroke information provided by Petmd.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Survive the Loss of Your Dog

During my adult life, I have always been a proud Dog Mom. The heartbreaking part of being a Dog Mom is mourning their passing. Each time was very difficult for me. In the April Blog, we discussed why it is so difficult to lose a dog, but how do you get through it? Obviously everyone is going to experience grief differently. Therefore going through the process of mourning is also going to be different for everyone.

Personally what I have found to help me is to create a memory quilt. Favorite photos can be transferred onto fabric and there is a wide selection of cute dog related prints to chose from. You can notate the number of years of their life using cute buttons or beads, small flowers, rhinestones, or anything else. Their ID tag can even be used on the quilt. Pictured below are a couple of different memory quilts I made. As you can see they are both very different, due to the personalities of the dogs. The one on the left is for Angus. He was very fun and had a silly personality. The other is for Lacy. She was such a princess, and of course I had to use a lace fabric due to her name!

Sir Angus’s Memorial Quilt

 

 

Lady Lacy Marie’s Memorial Quilt

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can ask your Veterinarian to make a plaster-of-paris paw print of your dogs paw. A small keepsake that is sooo personal and means so very much. If the opportunity exists, it is very easy to create a stepping stone using your dogs paw prints. Just get a stepping stone kit from a craft store. There are beautiful statues that you can have your dogs name engraved on. Keeping it in a special place in your home or garden can bring you peace every time you see it. Placing it in your dogs favorite napping spot could very well bring you smiles.

A lot of people turn to their religion for comfort during the mourning period. This beautiful prayer was written for the passing of a dog by a friend of mine.

“If the last is first,                                                                                                                       and peacemakers are blessed,                                                                                             then your place is at the foot                                                                                                    of whatever angel meets us all                                                                                             when we climb the stairs to                                                                                                     where you’ll be.

Cherubims aside,                                                                                                                    there is no heaven without friends                                                                                whose four legs have walked                                                                                                the rocky roads                                                                                                                              that we have known and                                                                                              stumbled on.

Let the saints                                                                                                                                do their work as well                                                                                                                 as you have done yours.”

~ Jody Serey

Another friend of mine created a mourning wreath (very common during the Victorian Era) and placed it on the front door of the house when her dog passed.

It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. Whatever it is that will help you through the grieving process is the right thing to do. The most important part is to not let others dictate to you what is right or wrong. Whatever feels right to you, is the best.

Mourning The Loss Of A Dog and Why It Is So Hard

I have lost three dogs in my adult life, all of which were difficult to get through the grieving process. Even though all three dogs were very special and loved very much, there was something different about Lady Lacy Marie. I don’t know if it was because she was a girl when the others were all boys or if it was because she had been horribly abused prior to my adoption of her. Lacy’s loss weighed heavy on me and still does. This month is the two year anniversary of her passing and I thought it would be appropriate to write a blog about mourning the loss of a dog. When researching the subject, I found this wonderful article which says it all.

It can be harder to lose a dog than a relative or friend — here’s why

By Frank T. McAndrew, Cornelian H. Dudley Professor of Psychology, Knox College

The Conversation

Mar. 19, 2017, 11:10 AM

Republished by Business Insider

dog                   Matt Cardy/Getty Images

“Recently, my wife and I went through one of the more excruciating experiences of our lives – the euthanasia of our beloved dog, Murphy.

I remember making eye contact with Murphy moments before she took her last breath – she flashed me a look that was an endearing blend of confusion and the reassurance that everyone was ok because we were both by her side.

When people who have never had a dog see their dog-owning friends mourn the loss of a pet, they probably think it’s all a bit of an overreaction; after all, it’s “just a dog.”

However, those who have loved a dog know the truth: Your own pet is never “just a dog.”

Many times, I’ve had friends guiltily confide to me that they grieved more over the loss of a dog than over the loss of friends or relatives. Research has confirmed that for most people, the loss of a dog is, in almost every way, comparable to the loss of a human loved one.

Unfortunately, there’s little in our cultural playbook – no grief rituals, no obituary in the local newspaper, no religious service – to help us get through the loss of a pet, which can make us feel more than a bit embarrassed to show too much public grief over our dead dogs.

Perhaps if people realized just how strong and intense the bond is between people and their dogs, such grief would become more widely accepted. This would greatly help dog owners to integrate the death into their lives and help them move forward.

An interspecies bond like no other

What is it about dogs, exactly, that make humans bond so closely with them?

For starters, dogs have had to adapt to living with humans over the past 10,000 years. And they’ve done it very well: They’re the only animal to have evolved specifically to be our companions and friends. Anthropologist Brian Hare has developed the “Domestication Hypothesis” to explain how dogs morphed from their grey wolf ancestors into the socially skilled animals that we now interact with in very much the same way as we interact with other people.

Perhaps one reason our relationships with dogs can be even more satisfying than our human relationships is that dogs provide us with such unconditional, uncritical positive feedback. (As the old saying goes, “May I become the kind of person that my dog thinks I already am.”)

A woman and her dogMary Turner/Getty Images

This is no accident. They have been selectively bred through generations to pay attention to people, and MRI scans show that dog brains respond to praise from their owners just as strongly as they do to food (and for some dogs, praise is an even more effective incentive than food). Dogs recognize people and can learn to interpret human emotional states from facial expression alone. Scientific studies also indicate that dogs can understand human intentions, try to help their owners and even avoid people who don’t cooperate with their owners or treat them well.

Not surprisingly, humans respond positively to such unrequited affection, assistance and loyalty. Just looking at dogs can make people smile. Dog owners score higher on measures of well-being and they are happier, on average, than people who own cats or no pets at all.

Like a member of the family

Our strong attachment to dogs was subtly revealed in a recent study of “misnaming.” Misnaming happens when you call someone by the wrong name, like when parents mistakenly calls one of their kids by a sibling’s name. It turns out that the name of the family dog also gets confused with human family members, indicating that the dog’s name is being pulled from the same cognitive pool that contains other members of the family. (Curiously, the same thing rarely happens with cat names.)

It’s no wonder dog owners miss them so much when they’re gone.

Psychologist Julie Axelrod has pointed out that the loss of a dog is so painful because owners aren’t just losing the pet. It could mean the loss of a source of unconditional love, a primary companion who provides security and comfort, and maybe even a protégé that’s been mentored like a child.

The loss of a dog can also seriously disrupt an owner’s daily routine more profoundly than the loss of most friends and relatives. For owners, their daily schedules – even their vacation plans – can revolve around the needs of their pets. Changes in lifestyle and routine are some of the primary sources of stress.

According to a recent survey, many bereaved pet owners will even mistakenly interpret ambiguous sights and sounds as the movements, pants and whimpers of the deceased pet. This is most likely to happen shortly after the death of the pet, especially among owners who had very high levels of attachment to their pets.

While the death of a dog is horrible, dog owners have become so accustomed to the reassuring and nonjudgmental presence of their canine companions that, more often than not, they’ll eventually get a new one.

So yes, I miss my dog. But I’m sure that I’ll be putting myself through this ordeal again in the years to come.”

In our next blog we will offer ways to help dog parents and dog lovers through the grieving process.

 

 

The Humanization Trend of Dogs

Do you actually LIKE being woken up to a cold nose in the morning?

Do you home cook meals or bake treats for your dog(s)?

Do you refer to your dog(s) as fur babies?

Do you purchase coats, sweaters, dresses, or outfits for your dog(s)?

Do you have more pictures of your dog(s) on your phone than family?

If you answered YES to any or all of these questions, then I have news for you, you are a Crazy Dog Person, and you are not alone! Announced by the 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association survey, 54.4 million households in America – 44% – own atleast one dog.

Young families are waiting longer to have children and instead are adopting dogs, hence Fur Babies!

In an article written by Roberto A. Ferdman, he says that “it could just be a coincidence that Americans are birthing fewer babies at the same time as they’re buying a lot more … dogs. But there’s pretty good reason to believe it isn’t, Damian Shore, an analyst at market-research firm Euromonitor, told Quartz. ‘There’s definitely some replacement happening there,’ he said.”

“One telling sign that the two are not entirely unrelated is that the same age groups that are forgoing motherhood are leading the dog charge. ‘Women are not only having fewer children, but are also getting married later. There are more single and unmarried women in their late 20s and early 30s, which also happens to be the demographic that buys the most dogs,’ Shore said.”

“There’s also evidence people are treating their dogs a bit more like little humans these days. Premium dog food, the most expensive kind, has grown by 170% over the past 15 years, and now accounts for 57% of the overall dog food market.”

According to an article written for Bloomberg Business Week by Ben Crair on August 18, 2015, he stated that “family sizes are shrinking, pet owners no longer treat their animals as property but as children, pampering them with products and services that would have once seemed ridiculous: bottled water, gluten-free kibble, doggy diapers, designer beds. The ‘humanization’ trend has benefited more than just animals. The U.S. pet industry has more than tripled over the past 20 years and pet care was one of the few retail industries to grow during the Great Recession.”

According to an article in Consumer Affairs by Sarah D. Young on August 15, 2016, “Americans spent upwards of $60 billion on pet products last year, and that number is expected to climb by $2 billion this year.”

Ms. Young continues by saying that “dropping dough isn’t the only way we show love to our favorite felines and prized pooches. A pet parent’s love can often be seen in what they would be willing to do for their dog or cat.”

The website Adobo.com  recently set out to see just how far pet owners would go for their pets. In a survey, 2,000 dog and cat owners were asked what they would sacrifice for their pet’s health and happiness. As it turns out, the better question might have been, ‘What wouldn’t a pet owner do for their pet?’

The results of the survey showed that pet parents would do just about anything for their cat or dog, even if it meant giving up a big part of their life. Sixty-three percent of participants said they would choose their pet over a significant other. What else would pet parents be willing to give up for their pets? Here are some more interesting findings from Adobo’s infographic:

89% would save their pet in a fire over a priceless family heirloom

85% would starve for a day so their pet could eat

78% would give up their favorite food if it meant their pet could live forever

58% would rather keep their pet and live in a shack than give up their pet for their dream home

54% would lose a finger so their pet could keep a limb

Pets are furry bundles of love and loyalty, and pet parents want nothing more than to return some of that devotion.

I personally have always treated my dogs as fur babies. For those that say they are dogs not kids, I can unequivocally state that like children; I provide my kids with a roof over their head, food in their belly’s, and a comfy bed to sleep in. I teach them right from wrong, I take care of their health needs, and most of all, I give them all the love that I have.

I am a Dog Mom and proud of it!