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Archive for February, 2010

Every so often scientists, who Yours Truly generally respects, get it wrong.  This time someone with a Petri dish and too much research money has gone and released a press release claiming that cat owners are smarter than dog owners.  Actually, the study’s conclusions make some sense since they are based on cats being able to be left alone for longer periods while their high-achieving owners go off to work twelve-hour days.  Still, measuring intelligence is a tricky thing in both humans and dogs.  After all, I would argue that dog sensibility is a window onto a certain kind of intelligence that might not be captured by income levels or busy-ness.  The article can be found here, but there was one heartening piece of information for any who despaired that dogs themselves were losing on the intelligence front to cats.  Here it is:

The belief of many cat owners that the feline intellect is superior to that of the canine was dented last year by the publication of a study showing that they did no better than dogs at a simple reasoning task.

Cats presented with two pieces of string, only one of which was attached to a food reward, could not tell which one to pull for their treat.

Alas, the study also underscored our two species general incompatibility:

The traditional view of cats and dogs as incompatible rivals was borne out by the research, with only 7 per cent of households containing pets of both species.

In other news, J.F. has been kindly invited to guest blog a Manly Monday post on The Lipstick Chronicles, so you might chance a visit there to learn him discourse on “Writing A Woman.”   Of course, The Lipstick Chronicles is well-worth a visit anytime.

And, lest  we forget A Dog At Sea (pictured below) has been reviewed at Rhapsody In Books and Murphy’s Dog Blog.  (You can click on the image to go to Amazon if you have not yet obtained your copy)

February 8th, 2010
2:20 am

The following story got Yours Truly’s attention.  I certainly hope Harry never tries to perform surgery on me.

Here is the story and the link:

BARRINGTON, R.I. — A Rhode Island man is facing some serious charges after trying to help his dog.

He couldn’t afford surgery for his dog, so he tried the procedure himself.

Nakita is a 14-year old Labrador mix who is recovering from two surgeries.

The first surgery was performed by her owner, who is not a veterinarian. The second surgery was performed by a professional to fix what went wrong.

“The problem was the dog also chewed on it and made it…a lot bigger,” said Alan MacQuittie, Nakita’s owner.

MacQuittie couldn’t afford to take Nakita to a vet. However, the chief doctor at the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said poverty is no excuse.

“Especially when you have to cut into an animal’s flesh, you need to have proper anesthesia, proper medication. This was totally an act of ignorance on the part of the owner,” said Dr. E.J. Finocchio of the Rhode Island SPCA.

However, MacQuittie disagrees.

“I don’t think that’s cruelty to an animal. Cruelty to me is someone carrying an animal around by a foot or tail…that’s cruelty. But trying to help an animal, that’s not cruelty.”

MacQuittie is facing several charges. Nakita is expected to make a full recovery.

(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

February 6th, 2010
3:46 am

Nestle, the dog on the left in the picture above, has been debarked because of a neighbor’s complaint…  I knew there was a reason I tend to remain quiet.

For more information on this disturbing practice of debarking, you might want to read this article from today in The New York Times.

This is not particularly diversionary, but apparently canine vocal cords are cut.

February 3rd, 2010
2:57 am

This is Oscar and he is waiting for someone to die.  He lives in a nursing home and has gained a reputation for showing up every time someone is about to pass into the great beyond.  Many people tend to imbue this behavior with superatural implications.  I, for one, being a Labrador of a more empirical leaning, think it has more to do with something Oscar finds attractive in the smell emitted by the dying.  I won’t go so far as to say Oscar has a Sidewalk Pate addiction of the worst kind, but readers of my books will likely come down on the side of the olfactories (though, perhaps, Oscar is also an empathetic fellow).

Here is a snippet from the article which may be found complete here:

The nursing home adopted Oscar, a medium-haired cat with a grey and brown back and white belly, in 2005 because its staff thinks pets make the Steere House a home. They play with visiting children and prove a welcome distraction for patients and doctors alike.

After a year, the staff noticed that Oscar would spend his days pacing from room to room. He sniffed and looked at the patients but rarely spent much time with anyone - except when they had just hours to live.

He’s accurate enough that the staff - including Dosa - know it’s time to call family members when Oscar stretches beside their patients, who are generally too ill to notice his presence.

If kept outside the room of a dying patient, he’ll scratch at doors and walls, trying to get in.

Nurses once placed Oscar in the bed of a patient they thought gravely ill. Oscar wouldn’t stay put, and the staff thought his streak was broken. Turns out the medical professionals were wrong, and the patient rallied for two more days. But in the final hours, Oscar held his bedside vigil without prompting.

Dosa does not explain Oscar scientifically in his book, although he theorises the cat imitates the nurses who raised him or smells odours given off by dying cells, perhaps like some dogs who scientists say can detect cancer using their sense of scent.

February 1st, 2010
3:40 am