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Keep Coyotes Wild

It’s coyote birthing season in the Bay Area, and Park It columnist Ned McKay recently noted this in the East Bay Times with some general dos and don’ts about coyote encounters.

Coyotes, he observed, roam the East Bay Regional Parks, from the hills to the bay shore, and they prowl suburban neighborhoods, whether we see them or not. They leave behind scat studded with fur, feathers, fins, and scales — evidence of their fondness for rabbits, squirrels, skunks, raccoons, birds, fish, reptiles, and other stuff, even bugs. Coyotes resemble German Shepherd Dogs, he noted, but are skinnier and lankier. They’re usually tan-colored with long snouts and black-tipped tails, and they should be viewed with caution, since they are wild animals.

A coyote disturbed near its den, for instance, might be aggressive, so it’s a good idea to keep your pet on a leash

and to call your dog back to you if it spots a coyote. If a coyote follows you, make loud noises to frighten it away, McKay said.

Don’t feed these wild animals, which means feeding your own pets indoors so coyotes can’t eat their food. It also means using trash containers with tight lids so there’s no trash to get into

Keep all little pets — cats, rabbits, small dogs — indoors, and bring in your pets at dark to keep them safe. Interestingly, coyotes can and do mate with domestic dogs.

Indicdentally, McKay hasn’t heard of any coyotes attacking any people. There have been known dog attacks, however.

 

ARF Honorees

VCA Animal Hospitals were honored recently by Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation for their contributions toward animal welfare, according to a recent press release.

VCA received the Evie Award at ARF’s annual Stars to the Rescue gala on Jan. 26. The Evie Award is named after the stray cat that inspired the creation of ARF almost 30 years ago. VCA was singled out for its continuous care and support for rescue animals and increased partnership during disaster and recovery efforts related to the devastating California wildfires. VCA provided ARF funding to help buy a new on-site digital X-ray machine, and VCA assisted the ARF clinic team in treating felines for burn care.

Additionally, the Hope Award was presented to Central Garden and pet executives Theresa and Jim Heim. The award, named for an ARF dog who overcame obstacles, recognizes individuals whose actions embody the human-animal bond, saluted their leadership in a capital campaign to build a national training center for ARF’s Pets and Vets programs.

 

Pick Up the Poop

The East Bay Regional Park District issued a pick-up-poop reminder in its March-April Activity Guide, letting park users know there’s no one picking up the dog poop bags left behind in its parks. Nope, there is no poop fairy magically cleaning up after those who leave bags.

“Leaving poop bags behind is a form of littering and is a major challenge for Park District staff. Leaving poop bags behind is against the rules and subject to fines,” the article said. “While Park Rangers do spend some time cleaning up poop bags, frankly, they have more essential things to do like clearing trails for safety and removing hazardous vegetation like poison oak.”

The parks folks asked dog owners to pitch in by pitching in their used poop bags at garbage cans at staging areas, trailheads, and along trails.

 

Cute Dogs Rule

Dogs rule the internet because they are so darn cute — cuter than cats and babies, apparently.

So reported the New Statesman American recently as it delved into the science of cuteness, a realm supposedly established by Austrian zoologist and Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz in 1948. He listed cute attributes as big foreheads, chubby cheeks, and round eyes — babyish traits, in other words.

One theory why is that cute dog pictures serve as virtual therapy dogs and the cuteness provides a bit of light and happiness. Another suggested by Naomi Harvey, a zoologist at the University of Nottingham, is that dogs have “hijacked our evolutionary tendencies: They are better at being cute than babies are” in part because they’re not as demanding, and they don’t cry like babies.

“Dogs are more fun,” she said. “Dogs exhibit all the lovely things babies do. They love you; they cuddle you. Dogs don’t grow out of that. They’ll give you all that validation.”

The internet has made it simple to share pet pictures, and when viewers see something cute, their dopamine-associated reward processing pathways kick in. And then there’s this: Nine out of the top 10 pet Instagram accounts are now of dogs.

There was a word of caution: Between the accessibility of cute animals and the quick dopamine hits viewers receive when looking at cute things, they are at risk of being desensitized to them. In the future, it seems animals on the internet may have to get even cuter to satisfy humans.

 

Left Pawed or Right Pawed?

About one out of 10 humans has a left-hand preference, but what about dogs — do they have a pawedness proclivity?

Psychology Today asked that question recently and reported that while dogs are one of the most-studied species, the answer seems inconclusive among studies: Some found that dogs are right-pawed, others left-pawed, and some failed to find a preference at all. Therefore, their scientists recently conducted a “meta-analysis” of paw preference in dogs that looked at 23 different studies with more than 1,300 dog subjects.

The result? Dogs show paw preference, though different from human handedness. Overall, 63 percent of animals showed a preference for one paw, while 37 percent did not. Furthermore, dogs, unlike humans, don’t show a preference for the right side. Dogs without a preference were the largest group (37 percent), followed by dogs that showed a rightward preference (32 percent), and dogs that showed a leftward preference (31 percent). Thus, dogs have almost the same chances for being left- or right-pawed or having no paw preference at all.

How do you determine paw preference in dogs? In one recent study, scientists filled a hollow, canonical-shaped rubber toy that moved erratically with moist dog food and gave it to dogs to play with. Researchers assessed which paw the dogs used to hold down the toy when they licked the food. The idea was that the dogs would use their more skilled paw to hold down the toy. Each animal was tested until at least 100 paw uses were recorded, and the number of times the left paw was used was compared to the number of times the right paw was used to determine individual paw preference.

 

Dog DNA Testing Generates Debate

Genetic testing for dogs has surged in recent years, with more than a million dogs tested in about a decade. Such tests have sparked debate

over testing standards, interpretation, and limitations, NBC News reported recently.

Many pet owners use DNA tests to learn about the heritage of their mixed-breed companions. The tests can also provide more accurate info about shelter dogs for prospective adopters. They can help breeders in their efforts to eliminate diseases prevalent in some breeds. The technology has been used to ID scofflaws who don’t pick up their dog’s poop as well as clearing dogs from unjustified accusations.

But sometimes pet genetics results can be misinterpreted or misread, leading to inappropriate euthanasia or wrong assumptions altogether, prompting veterinarians to urge pet parents to rely on the results in a limited way until more is known.

“The risk for overinterpretation is great,” but DNA testing can be useful along with other tools, said veterinarian Dr. Diane Brown, the CEO of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. It has invested millions of dollars in genomic and molecular research and supports an international effort to promote standardization for dog DNA tests.

“We’re here to help you care better for your dog,” said Embark Veterinary Inc. CEO Ryan Boyko, whose company has breed- and health-tested nearly 100,000 canines in its 3½ years.

 

Tinder for Dogs, More or Less

Lithuania animal lovers have created a mobile app like Tinder to match up dogs in local shelters with new owners, The AP reported.

GetPet joins apps like PawsLikeMe and BarkBuddy and is getting hundreds of new users daily and has made a few matches.

“It is like Tinder, but with dogs,” said Vaidas Gecevicius, one of app’s creators. “You can arrange a meeting with the dog — a date.”

GetPet features profiles of furry four-legged creatures looking up with soft, yearning eyes. Scrolling down reveals more information about the pup, and those interested can then swipe right.

It’s a one-sided situation, though, as dogs can’t swipe. When a human swipes left, another dog profile appears. The app only features dogs for now but may include cats and other animals in the future.

 

Forever Dogs

The United States Postal Service recently announced that one of its 2019 forever stamp collections will honor the nation’s military working dogs, CNN recently reported.

The stamps will feature four breeds often in the armed forces — German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Belgian Malinois, and Dutch Shepherds. The dogs will sit on top of a white star with either a red or blue background, colors USPS noted, that represent the American flag and patriotism.

Military dogs have served in the U.S. military since World War I. An estimated 2,300 military working dogs serve on U.S. bases worldwide. The dogs perform dangerous tasks aside soldiers.

“These military dogs, and search-and-rescue dogs, are putting themselves on the line. They’re out in the front lines,” said Diane Whetsel, head of the Sage Foundation that helps to provide funding for medical services that military dogs might need.

U.S. war dogs also have their own memorial in Holmdel, N.J. While the memorial was originally built to remember those dogs that served in Vietnam, it honors all dogs that have served in the military.

“They’re treated exactly like a soldier, in every way, shape and form,” Robin Ganzert, the president and CEO of the American Humane Association told CNN.

 

Safer K9s

The Homeland Security Department is investing in a smart harness that would monitor the health of the border patrol’s K-9 units.

The agency recently signed a $200,000 contract with HaloLights to prototype a sensor-equipped harness that monitors dogs’ heart rate, body temperature, and other vital signs. The harness would also track each dog’s GPS location and monitor environmental factors. The technology would send the data back to support staff in real-time and alert them to any irregularities, allowing them to keep the group’s K-9 units safe.

Customs and Border Protection’s K-9 units sniff out illegal drugs, firearms, currency, and trafficked persons at ports of entry and along the border and often work in tough conditions.

“With the potential risks Customs and Border Protection canine agents face in their daily operations, there is an expressed desire for improved health monitoring tools to ensure their safety,” Don Roberts, who manages the office’s Detection Canine program, said in a statement.

HaloLights is currently the only company working under the program’s K-9 Wearable Technologies category, but the agency has funded similar projects in the past.

 

Be Happy

Dog trainer Amanda Gagnon told Inside Edition there’s a lot people can learn from dogs when it comes to being happy.

In an interview with Les Trent at the D-Pet Hotel in Manhattan, she said, “They really very, very clearly teach us how to be here now, centered and grounded.”

Dogs teach their humans to enjoy the simple things. “When it’s snowed 100 days in a row and you’re so sick and tired of snow, a dog goes out and it’s the first time it ever snowed and they’re rolling in the snow,” she said.

And dogs never hold grudges, she said, and know what they want and will most definitely ask for it. “People say dogs don’t talk,” she said. “Of course they talk; they just don’t use words. They’re telling us stuff all the time.”

Dogs remind their peeps to take it easy and to exercise every day, and they live in the here and now.

 

Allergy-Free

Dogs are lovable companions that make a great addition to a family, but those who suffer from allergies often avoid pets. There are many dog breeds that are hairless or hypoallergenic and therefore are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

No dog is 100 percent safe for all people with allergies, but these 19 breeds are some of the least risky, according to Insider: Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Coton de Tulear, Bichon Frise, Afghan Hounds, Spanish Water Dogs, Maltese, Giant Schnauzers, Bedlington Terriers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Kerry Blue Terriers, Mexican Hairless Dogs (or Xoloitzcuintli), Poodles, American Hairless Terriers, Chinese Crested Dogs, Irish Water Spaniels, Lagotto Romagnolo Dogs, Miniature Schnauzers, Peruvian Inca Orchid Dogs, and Standard Schnauzers.

Main article photo by: Photo by Akchamczuk / iStock