Sgt. Joseph Latham, of the 5th Marine Division’s recoilless rifle platoon, trained Reckless during the Korean War. He also fed her scrambled eggs. Coca-Cola and occasionally whiskey in addition to her diet of barley, sorghum, hay and rice straw. On cold nights, Latham let Reckless into his tent to sleep next to the stove.
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Dogs have the ability to learn and remember actions demonstrated by humans and perform those tasks after being distracted, according to experiments performed by researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary. The findings indicate the presence of “declarative memory, which refers to memories which can be consciously recalled, such as facts or knowledge,” researchers wrote. MedicalDaily.com (7/16)
Dog psychology researchers long believed that dogs, cute and cuddly as they are, can’t remember events that happened in the past. A new study has brought doubt to these beliefs, as the researchers’ findings suggest dogs could imitate novel human actions based on what they’ve seen, and not practiced.
In a paper published in Psychological Bulletin, author William A. Roberts argues that the ability to “assign points in time to events arises from human development of a sense of time and its accompanying time-keeping technology.” He says that animals have no sense of time and are cognitively stuck in time, and therefore have no episodic memory. Episodic memory, together with semantic memory — the ability to understand meanings and concepts — allows beings to recall facts and knowledge, an ability known as declarative memory.
To see if dogs could display these types of memories, researchers from Eötvös Loránd Universitym, in Hungary, had the owners of eight adult dogs train these dogs in a “do as I do” method in which the owners made their dogs sit and watch as the owner performed novel tasks, including ringing a bell and walking around a bucket. Each dog watched the owner perform these tasks for 1.5 minutes. For some tasks, the dogs were allowed to copy the task (a two-action procedure), while for others they were only allowed to sit and watch.
Then, the dogs were taken behind a screen that hid the objects used in the tasks from their view. During this break, which lasted between 40 seconds and 10 minutes, they were distracted by playing or just doing whatever they wanted.
By doing this, the researchers were able to see if the dogs had an ability to encode and recall the tasks without ever practicing them themselves, and they did. When the dogs were brought back, whether it was the owner or a stranger — who acted as the control — that commanded “do it,” the dogs typically performed the task. Dogs could complete the two-action tasks after waiting as long as 10 minutes behind the screen. They were also able to copy the tasks that they were only able to watch, spending only one minute behind the screen for these.
“The ability to encode and recall an action after a delay implies that the dogs have a mental representation of the human demonstration,” the authors write. “In addition, the ability to imitate a novel action after a delay without previous practice suggests the presence of a specific type of long-term memory in dogs.”
“This would be so-called declarative memory, which refers to memories which can be consciously recalled, such as facts or knowledge,” the authors conclude.
Renters with pets typically pay an additional deposit to cover damage or cleaning fees. Rental expert Niccole Schreck advises pet owners to provide evidence of their animals’ good behavior, such as obedience school certificates or letters from previous neighbors and landlords, and even bring their pet in for an “interview.” She advises owners to resist any temptation to conceal their pet, or they may find themselves looking for a new home for the animal or the whole family. U.S. News & World Report/My Money blog (7/17)
In a recent Rent.com survey of 500 U.S. renters with pets, 48 percent said the pet deposit was the biggest headache when moving with a pet. Pet deposits are usually charged in addition to your security deposit before you move in to cover any damages that may be caused by your pet during your lease term. At the end of your lease, some landlords will refund your pet deposit if your rental is undamaged, while others will keep all or part of the pet deposit as a cleaning fee.
Why do landlords charge a pet deposit? Most landlords have legitimate concerns when it comes to renting to pet owners. Though you may be a responsible pet owner who takes care of your rental home, there are plenty of people who do not, so allowing animals can be risky for a landlord. Many property owners are reluctant because they fear pets will damage the unit, make too much noise or inconvenience other renters.
How much is a typical pet deposit? On a one-year lease, 71 percent of the pet owners Rent.com surveyed said they would expect to spend $200 or less on a pet deposit, while nearly a third (29 percent) said they would typically spend more than $200. In general, there is no typical pet deposit. Deposit amounts will vary depending on how many and what kinds of pets you have, the size, the breed, where you live and even the landlord’s past experiences.
Can I negotiate a pet deposit? Given the inconsistency in pet deposits, they can be negotiable depending on the landlord. The best way to barter for a lower pet deposit is to build the landlord’s comfort level with you and your pets, which can be done in several ways:
• Recommendation letters: You know that your cat isn’t going to scratch at the walls, but your potential landlord can’t be sure. Put his or her mind to rest with recommendation letters from past landlords stating that your four-legged friends were well behaved and left your previous rentals in good shape. You can also obtain letters from previous neighbors to reassure the landlord that your pets won’t bother or harm other renters, as well as a letter from your veterinarian stating that your pet is spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccinations.
• Obedience training: The more evidence you can provide that you’re a responsible pet owner, the better your chance of lowering the pet deposit. Written proof that your dog has completed obedience training will show your new landlord that your dog is well-behaved and socialized.
• Renters insurance: Renters insurance is always a good idea, but having a rental insurance policy – especially one that covers pet-related damages and has liability coverage – can be a helpful tool when discussing pet deposits. Your willingness to be financially responsible for your pet shows the landlord that you are respectful of their concerns and feel a sense of responsibility for your rental.
• Pet interview: Ask your landlord if he or she is willing to do a pet interview, so you can demonstrate that your pet is not aggressive, destructive or too energetic for an apartment. If you opt for an interview, make sure your pet has been walked, fed and relaxed so he or she is on their best behavior.
The bottom line: Don’t be like the 10 percent of renters surveyed who have hidden a pet from a landlord. You could put yourself at risk for eviction or have to find a new home for your pet. Your best bet is to be honest and find an apartment that is happy to have you and your furry companion.
Niccole Schreck is the rental experience expert for Rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable apartment, gives you tips on how to move and then says, “thank you” with a prepaid $100 reward card.
Have you ever wished a popular Smithsonian exhibit could come to you rather than the other way around? Thanks to an exciting collaboration initiated by the AVMA and joined by the Smithsonian and Zoetis, “Animal Connections: Our Journey Together” recently made its debut at the AVMA Convention. Housed in a mini-museum inside an expandable 18-wheeler, the exhibit features interactive displays introducing visitors of all ages to the many roles veterinarians play and the complex bond between humans and animals. View a video from Tuesday’s public opening of the exhibit.
Veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist Cory Sims of North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has been helping 5-year-old Belgian hare Edie get back on her feet. Edie was diagnosed with a degenerative condition that left her weak and lacking coordination in and awareness of her hind limbs. Edie’s therapy includes strolling on an underwater treadmill, stretching on a peanut-shaped ball and zipping around in her custom-made mobility cart. Dr. Sims says she also works to support Edie’s bond with her owner because the human-animal bond is the driving force behind what veterinarians do. PhysOrg.com (7/24)
Meet Edie, a five-year-old Belgian hare (which is a breed of domestic rabbit, not an actual hare) who came to NC State’s exotic animal service and was diagnosed with a progressive spinal disease that affects her rear legs.
Edie first started showing symptoms of the degenerative disease last October. As the disease progressed, Edie became unable to control the movements of her back legs. By the end of the year, the condition seemed to have plateaued, leading NC State veterinarians to recommend physical therapy to preserve her mobility as much as possible.
Cory Sims, clinical veterinarian and rehabilitation specialist, uses a variety of tools to help Edie: time on the underwater treadmill, which slows movement and allows Edie to focus on where her legs are and how to keep them in position; stretching on the “therapy peanut,” a rubber exercise ball that encourages balance and strengthens the core; and finally a cart that will keep Edie upright so that she can practice balancing on her hind legs.
“Edie’s condition is chronic – we can’t make her back into the bunny she was,” Sims says. “But what we can do is support her as long as possible so that she maintains mobility over a longer period. It’s about promoting the quality of life.”
As exotic pets become more popular, the range of therapies available to these animals has increased. Rehabilitation and therapy are still fairly new and unique services for exotics, according to Vanessa Grunkemeyer, assistant professor of exotic medicine with NC State’s exotic animal service. But the benefits of these new services go beyond helping pets like Edie.
“We provide primary medical care and emergency care for exotic animals,” Grunkemeyer says, “but part of our job as veterinary scientists involves doing research, which helps us learn more about these species, improve their treatment options and educate the next generation of veterinarians.”
Dr. Lee of the Family Pet Clinic in Anaheim applied to Angel Funds through the AHF to help a client afford luxating patella surgery on Harley so that the 10 year old dog would no longer be in pain and be able to walk again!
The AHF thanks Dr. Lee for utilizing the Angel Fund to help Harley!
Research indicates dogs who lick surfaces excessively could have a gastrointestinal disorder, and treatment of the underlying problem is likely to resolve the behavior, writes veterinarian Lee Pickett. The many functions of purring in cats are also addressed in Dr. Pickett’s column. BerksPets.com (Reading, Pa.) (7/1)
Q. Henry, my 3-year-old shep-collie mix, has been licking the couch, carpet and other surfaces lately. What’s behind his behavior change?
A. Ask your veterinarian to investigate Henry’s gastrointestinal tract. Recently published research suggests that stomach and intestinal problems can trigger excessive licking of surfaces (ELS).
Researchers evaluated 19 dogs exhibiting ELS and 10 healthy dogs through blood work, neurologic examinations, oral exams under anesthesia, abdominal ultrasounds, endoscopies and biopsies of stomach and intestines.
Fourteen of the 19 ELS dogs (74 percent) were diagnosed with specific gastrointestinal diseases, whereas only three of the 10 apparently healthy dogs (30 percent) were similarly affected.
After treatment of the gastrointestinal diseases, ELS stopped completely in nine of the dogs and was significantly reduced in one additional dog.
If your veterinarian doesn’t find a gastrointestinal disorder, Henry may be experiencing anxiety. Your vet can help address that too.
Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences has teamed with the Houston SPCA to give fourth-year veterinary students a chance to work alongside experts in investigating and treating dogs, cats, horses and other animals that have been subject to neglect and abuse. “We will be graduating new generations of vets who will disseminate throughout Texas and beyond with a deep understanding of animal welfare and shelter medicine,” said dean and veterinarian Eleanor Green. The Bryan-College Station Eagle (Texas) (7/12)
By Brooke Conrad email@example.com
The Houston Society for The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences announced Thursday a partnership that will offer veterinary students a deeper look into cases of cruelty, trauma and neglect in a wide array of animals.
The Houston SPCA, the largest animal protection agency in the Gulf Coast area, investigates more than 9,000 cases of animal abuse and neglect and advocates for more than 50,000 animals a year. Through the partnership with the flagship university, fourth-year veterinary students at Texas A&M will undergo a two-week program at the SPCA, working alongside experts in cruelty, trauma and neglect to dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, farm animals, exotic animals and native wildlife, it was announced at a news conference in Houston.
Though Texas A&M veterinary students already receive a world-class, hands-on education, Eleanor Green, the Carl B. King Dean of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said students will experience an “intimate immersion in the handling of animal abuse cases” because of the partnership.
“We will be graduating new generations of vets who will disseminate throughout Texas and beyond with a deep understanding of animal welfare and shelter medicine,” Green said. “It’s truly a win-win for the students, Houston SPCA and society.”
Green said some students have been exposed to cruelty cases, but the partnership will allow students to work with law enforcement in investigating the cases — something they likely haven’t done before. They’ll also experience going to court to see how the cases play out.
The first group of students began their rotations on June 3. Joe Pluhar is in the midst of his rotation, an experience he called “unique, both in volume and variety.”
Pluhar, who said he hopes to become an equine veterinarian after graduation, was able to care for a horse this week that had been mistreated and was unable to walk.
“There’s no other type of education opportunity like this for vet students anywhere else in the country,” Pluhar said. “[By the end of the rotation] we will have done upwards of 30 surgeries. At other schools, some students do maybe two.”
During their rotation, students live near the SPCA in an apartment that is funded by the college and outside donations. The SPCA is working to add a housing units on to its existing facility, Green said.
Kenita Rogers, associate dean for professional programs at the college of veterinary medicine, sparked the partnership over a year ago after she was urged by a longtime Houston vet to contact the SPCA.
“The reason this is so special is because it’s the largest partnership of its time,” Rogers said. “Just the breadth of species that are involved here — they handle up to 1,000 cases every day. It’s not just dogs and cats. It’s pocket pets, horses, farm animals and native wildlife of 240 species every year. There’s an incredible breadth of knowledge there to share with our students.”
Passengers flying out of San Francisco International Airport recently might have caught a glimpse of something bizarre: goats munching away at overgrown weeds.Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice and nearly 400 other goats were chomping on brush as part of the airport’s unique – and environmentally friendly – approach to fire prevention.Airports are mini cities, often with their own firefighters, baristas, doctors and even priests.But goat herders?Brush in a remote corner of the airport property needs to be cleared each spring to protect nearby homes from potential fires. But machines or humans can’t be used because two endangered species – the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog – live there.So for the past five years, the airport has turned to Goats R Us, which charged $14,900 for the service this year.”When passengers takeoff and fly over the goats, I’m sure that’s a thrill,” said Terri Oyarzun, who owns and runs the goat-powered brush removal company with her husband Egon and their son Zephyr.The goats travel 30 miles each spring from their home in Orinda, Calif. to the airport in a 16-wheel truck that Oyarzun calls her “livestock limo.” With the help of a goat herder and a Border Collie named Toddy Lynn, the goats spend two weeks cutting away a 20-foot firebreak on the west side of the airport.When Oyarzun’s goats aren’t clearing brush at the airport, they are busy doing similar work on the side of California’s freeways, at state parks, under long-distance electric lines and anywhere else with overgrown vegetation. The family has about 4,000 total active goats.Working at an airport does come with its own set of challenges, namely loud, frightening jets constantly taking off.”There was an adjustment period,” Oyarzun said. “But they have a lot of confidence in their herder.”At least one other airport has taken note. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has requested bids for goats to clear brush in a remote area of the airport’s 7,000-acre property and expects a here to be at the airport sometime this summer.When goats become too old to work, they are typically sold for meat. But fear not, Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice won’t end up at the slaughterhouse. The Oyarzun family lets its goats peacefully retire at its farm.At least one part of air travel is still humane.