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THOSE CLEVER CATS
Cats have two languages: one for other cats—and one for humans. BBC Earth
observed the behavior of domestic cats and found that while they make many
sounds among the clowder, they reserve their meows, or “miaows,” solely for
communicating with the humans who care for them. Dr. John Bradshaw of Bristol University explained that the meow starts as a kitten vocalization, something
used to call their mothers, who are very attentive to those meows. As the kitten
matures, it gradually stops working, as the mother is more interested in weaning her young than catering to them. It’s during this period
that clever kitties learn to use the meows to get their owner’s attention.
Pet Product News
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Vol. 70 No. 3
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BEST DOG AT THE WEDDING
Photographer Maddie Peschong of Mad Photo and Design captured a heartwarming
interaction between a bride and Bella, a service dog. In the photo, which was posted
on Reddit, Bella is alerting Valerie that her heart rate is elevated and is attempting to
distract her in order to calm her down. Bella also helps Valerie with migraines, panic
attacks and anxiety.
WHEN ADOPTION GOES WRONG
Liz Baker, former executive director of Petfinder.com Foundation and current executive
director of GreaterGood.org, who knows a thing or two about adoption practices, shared
in a blog her frustrating and heartbreaking story of a recent failed adoption.
She fell in love with a 5-month-old male American Staffordshire terrier, which she
called Little Dog. She called the rescue, asked questions, filled out the adoption application and scheduled a home visit.
“I’m a pretty good candidate on paper and was confident that I would be approved
after the home visit if everything went OK,” Baker wrote.
She and her family were turned down over not having a fence around the backyard
pool. Even after Baker remedied the situation with pool alarms and explained that the
family’s other dog had been taught to swim.
Baker tried to reason with adoption personnel, but their minds were made up, and “that was that,” she wrote.
Frustrated, she went on to say that the rescue “legally owns the dog. [They] get to single-handedly decide that dog’s fate (and
mine). I tearfully informed my girls that according to this [rescue], we were not a suitable family for Little Dog and that he would
not, in fact, be coming home.
“I won’t be deterred, but I am not going to lie; it did sting,” Baker wrote. “My 11-year-old daughter innocently suggested that we
buy a dog since we might not get chosen for a dog (ever). The truth is, many people involved in animal welfare, myself included, don’t
have a problem with reputable licensed breeders. They are not the problem. There are some people who want to spend thousands
of dollars to buy a pedigreed pet. I am not one of them.”
Ultimately, Baker reaffirms her belief in adoption, despite this experience.
“I believe in the good work that shelters, rescue groups and volunteers do,” she wrote. “I will find a new family member after I
lick my wounds and get some space between this unfortunate, hurtful interaction. I am not naming the rescue group because rather
than be punitive, I want to continue to support good, deserving groups and educate well-meaning volunteers about reasonable and
transparent adoption practices. I truly hope Little Dog finds a great family to love him ... and doesn’t grow old at the rescue … waiting
for someone without a pool. If I’m not qualified to adopt a dog, who exactly is?”
O THE RIGHT WAY TO GREET A DOG
Research conducted on 12 beagles by researchers from the Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala and published in Physiology and Behavior, which
studied the emotional responses of the dogs when a familiar person greets them
after a period of separation, confirmed the importance of touch during that greeting.
Study methodology involved a familiar person leaving the dogs in a test area for 25
minutes, accompanied only by an unfamiliar individual who did not interact with the dogs.
The familiar person returning after the separation followed three scripted responses: talking to the dog in a friendly tone and
patting it gently, talking to the dog with no contact and a control condition where there was no greeting—the person entered the
room, sat down and began reading.
To determine the dogs’ emotional states, the researchers measured the amounts of oxytocin (the “love hormone”) and cortisol
(a stress hormone) released in the dogs’ blood.
Upon the familiar person returning, a voice and touch greeting saw a much higher increase in oxytocin than with just voice alone;
the drop in cortisol levels was sharpest when the person used both voice and touch. The positive emotional effects persisted for a
long time after the actual greeting. The positive change and emotion dissipated much more quickly when the dog was greeted only
by speaking and most quickly when the person did not interact with the dog at all. In this last scenario, the dogs seemed bothered
and would often wander over to the unfamiliar person in the room to try to make physical contact with them.
The result? It is actually the sensation of being touched that helps to boost the good feelings experienced by the dog and allows
those good feelings to carry forward from the moment when dog and loved one reunite.