article image

Happy Ending for Dog in San Jose Car Heist

Athens, a perky miniature pinscher and Chihuahua mix who was in a car stolen outside a San Jose Walgreens in late September, is safe at home.

Athens was found alive and well about a mile away from the drug store at Blossom Hill Road and Snell Avenue, San Jose police told The Mercury News.

The owner of the pooch, Kelly Stover, had dashed inside the store and left Athens inside her white Volkswagen Passat. When she returned a few minutes later, the car and Athens were gone.

An initial search of the area and local animal shelters was unproductive, but Susan Packer, a lost-dog-searching volunteer assisting in the hunt for Athens, learned a dog matching his description was seen scampering in a neighborhood east of the shopping center. The tip made its way to social media, and Packer was contacted Stover who found Athens, apparenlty unharmed and healthy but happy, thirsty, and hungry.

“What a good ending to what could have been tragic,” Stover said.



Does your dog understand words? Maybe, a new study on the topic published recently by Frontiers in Neuroscience seems to indicate. It was based on one of the first studies to use brain imaging to determine how dogs process words they have learned to associate with objects (like “squirrel!”). Performed by Emory University scientists, the study suggested dogs have a rudimentary neural representation of meaning for words they have been taught and can differentiate words they have heard previously from unfamiliar ones.

Neuroscientist Gregory Berns, the study’s senior author and the founder of the Dog Project, pointed out that because dogs can follow verbal commands, they apparently can process some parts of human language, though scientist suggested dogs also incorporate other cues like gazes, gestures, and emotional expressions from their human

The Dog Project researches evolutionary questions about dogs and trained dogs to voluntarily enter a functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, scanner and remain motionless during scanning, without restraint or sedation.

For the current study, 12 dogs were trained to retrieve two different objects, based on the objects’ names. During one experiment, the trained dog lay in the fMRI scanner while his owner stood at the opening of the machine and said the names of the dog’s toys at set intervals, then showed the dog the corresponding toys.

Eddie, a golden retriever-Labrador mix, for instance, heard his owner say “piggy” or “monkey,” then his owner held up the matching toy. As a control, the owner then spoke gibberish words and then held up novel objects. The results showed greater activation in auditory regions of the brain to the novel nonsense words.

The researchers guessed dogs might show interest in a new because they are trying to please.


Watch Out for Superbugs

Doctors at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, concerned therapy dogs might pose an infection risk to patients with weakened immune systems, did some tests when four dogs visited 45 hospitalized children, The Associated Press reported recently.

They learned the kids who spent more time with the dogs had a greater chance of coming away with superbug bacteria than the kids who were around the dogs for shorter periods. The study also found that washing the dogs before visits and using special wipes while they’re in the hospital took away the risk of spreading the bacteria.

The results of the unpublished study were released recently at a scientific meeting in San Francisco.

“Whether covered in fur, feathers or scales, animals have the potential to carry germs that make people sick,” said Casey Barton Behravesh of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pet therapy can help people with health issues, from easing anxiety and sadness to lowering blood pressure and reducing the amount of medications necessary. However, there have been episodes of the superbug MRSA on healthy-looking therapy dogs.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, can live on the skin without causing symptoms but can become dangerous if they enter the bloodstream. The bacteria can spread in daycares, locker rooms, and military barracks, but public health efforts have focused on hospitals and nursing homes.

The researchers think the dogs were generally clean of MRSA when they came to the hospital but picked it up from patients, others, or through contact with fur while they were there, said one of the authors, Meghan Davis.


Who’s Your Drinking Buddy?

Esquire recently suggested that dogs could replace humans as their drinking buddies, thanks to newly available dog “beer.”

The so-called beer, which is not alcoholic, is spreading across America, with cans for Fido appearing frequently. Houston’s Good Boy Dog Beer, for example, makes three kinds: IPA A Lot in the Yard, Session … Squirrel!, and Mailman Malt Licker. Crotch Sniffin’ Ale, a fourth, is coming, too.

Good Boy was started to help a Rottweiler mix, Rocky, overcome digestive issues. Rocky’s owners found a solution in a drink made with all-natural ingredients (meat, spices, vegetables, and turmeric) that could be poured over food or served alone. It’s full of nutrients for a better dog diet and costs $5 per can.

But why call it beer, Esquire asked? “We use a lot of the same equipment a brewery does. We just skip the fermentation process,” Rocky’s owner Megan Long told USA Today. Additionally, Americans spend zillions on their dogs and alcoholic beverages. Makes perfect sense.


Fading Noses

Ever wondered why your dog’s dark brown, black, or tan nose fades seasonally? An Australian youngster asked that question and got this answer:

We don’t know why. The dark color is called melanin, which protects your skin from ultraviolet light by absorbing radiation. When you spend more time in the sun, the body makes more melanin, and if you aren’t in the sun, the pigment fades.

The cells that make that melanin are melanocytes, which are prone to damage from radiation. If they get too damaged, they might become cancer. Tumors of melanocytes are called melanoma.

In some dogs (particularly breeds like the husky and some retrievers), noses will lose some pigment. It is the melanin coming and going, just like a tan.


Distraction Works

If you’re blue over sending you last kiddo off to college, you should know that your dog could be distraught, too, for the same reason.

The Daily Nonpareil reported that dogs could be lonely, sad, depressed, and confused — just like you.

A recent Globe article had a few ideas for ending the mopey attitudes: “Help the dog feel joy in other ways,” said Rachel Locke of Red Rover Ranch, a boarding and training business. Take them for more walks, add off-leash time, and give them stimulating toys and hugs, she said, adding, “Distract them.” Good luck.


Stinky Breath

The Wall Street Journal is on the canine halitosis beat. That’s bad breath in plain terms, and WSJ recently tapped John de Jong, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and a practicing veterinarian in Newton, Mass., to explain canine oral health.

Dr. de Jong said most serious oral problems he has seen are with smaller breed dogs, such as dachshunds and Yorkshire terriers, in part because of genetics and a tendency by small-breed owners to feed them people food and soft foods that lead to poor dental health.

A dog’s bad breath usually comes from periodontal disease, tooth decay, or a lack of dental care, though plaque buildup, loose or broken teeth, cavities, or, chewing on something very hard that might break teeth are other culprits. An infection in the oral cavity can lead to more serious problems

His advice: If your dog’s breath is unbearable for more than a few days, “make an appointment with your vet.”

Maintain oral cleanliness through regular brushing, be cautious of extra-hard chewing materials, and avoid the more odd products on the market.


Thank Dog

Your dog makes you a better person, according to The Active Times: You learn responsibility. You stay active. Dog people are happier and more affectionate. You learn patience. Your dog makes you healthier. You keep your house cleaner and more organized. You practice budgeting. You feel more confident. You live longer. Your heart grows stronger. You gain a new sense of humor. Dogs are like therapy. Your dog will get you out of bed in the morning


Lepto Outbreak

NEWS 10 of Boston recently reported that Beantown has experienced an outbreak of leptospirosis, a life-threatening bacteria. The Animal Rescue League has diagnosed three positive cases of leptospirosis.

Affected dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, may experience fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst, changes in the frequency or amount of urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, or painful inflammation within the eyes. It can cause kidney failure with or without liver failure. Dogs may develop severe lung disease and have difficulty breathing. Leptospirosis can cause bleeding disorders, which can lead to blood-tinged vomit, urine, stool or saliva; nosebleeds; pinpoint red spots; swollen legs (from or accumulate excess fluid in the chest or abdomen.

The bacteria spread through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to humans, putting people at risk for kidney damage and liver failure. In Boston, the bacteria is usually spread by rodents in the city’s parks and fountains.



Main article photo by: Kendra Luck