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Meet the Lassen Pack

More gray wolves have been spotted in Northern California in Lassen National Forest, according to news reports and state wildlife officials.

Dubbed the Lassen Pack, the family includes two adults and at least three pups. The female and babies were captured frolicking by a U.S. Forest Service trail camera in the Lassen forest this summer. The recently discovered pack becomes the second-known family of gray wolves in California.

The 75-pound female, which had birthed a litter of pups in the spring, was captured June 30 and fitted with a tracking collar, and the film footage was discovered the next day. Her origins aren’t known, but Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists said her mate is the son of OR-7, the Oregon gray wolf that migrated into California, becoming the first wolf to do so since the 1920s. The Lassen Pack primarily has roamed in western Lassen County but has also ventured into Plumas County.

The first confirmed breeding pair of wolves in California produced five pups in Siskiyou County in 2015. That family of seven gray wolves, known as the Shasta Pack, hasn’t been seen since May 2016, though a pup was detected in northwestern Nevada in November 2016.

“OR-7 proved that a wolf could make the trek to California. The Shasta Pack gave us hope for wolf packs here. Now the presence of the Lassen Pack shows that wolves are eager to return to their native territory in the Golden State,” said Pamela Flick, a California representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

Gray wolves can’t be killed or hunted, as they are protected under the state’s endangered species act; they are also listed as endangered by the federal government.

 

Sowing Seeds

Specially trained border collies are being used in central Chile to replant trees, grasses, and flowers in the burned forests of the El Maule region, Phys.org reported.

Early this spring, the three dogs—Das, Olivia, and Summer, all females—started scattering seeds dispersed through special backpack satchels they wear in 15 forested areas. They are owned and trained by Francisca Torres, who rewards them with treats. They can cover about three times the distance of humans.

“We have seen some fields that are now totally green thanks to the work of Summer, Olivia, and Das,” said Torres, who funds the project herself and with donations.

 

What’s in a Name?

The Portsmouth Humane Society in Virginia has ditched the inexact science of categorizing its shelter dogs by breed and will refer to them as “American shelter dogs,” according to The Associated Press.

PHS took the course of action because it said breed references can be too misleading. Far too little is known about the breed behind the dogs that the shelter accepts, the PHS staff said, and DNA testing is cost prohibitive.

 

New Dog Limits

The number of dogs allowed in Los Angeles County households has been elevated from three to four, with officials hoping the increase will reduce the number of dogs in shelters. County supervisors unanimously approved the change recently, noting that San Diego and San Bernardino have similar limits.

“Increasing the dog limit per household will give homeless dogs additional opportunities to find permanent, loving homes and reduce animal homelessness in the county of Los Angeles,” Marcia Mayeda, director of the county Department of Animal Care and Control, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News.

 

Bucket List

A Red Lion, Pa., man, Tim Griffin, has been helping his dog achieve quite a bucket list after the 12-year-old gold retriever, Mister Molson, was diagnosed with cancer in his nose, USA Today reported.

So far, Molson has been treated to beach visits and police car, fire truck, and ambulance rides. He also tied the knot, became a service dog, served as president of a union, rode in a motorcycle sidecar, and sat in a helicopter. Additionally, Molson has become a lifeguard, went to a dog hotel, hiked, and is headed to Central Park and then Coney Island for a hot dog.

“A lot of this stuff happened with people I’ve never met before,” Griffin said. “It’s good to see there’s still a sense of community.”

Griffin’s kids, Chloe, 10, and Elliot, 8, accompany Molson on his adventures, and their dad hopes it will give them something pleasurable to recall after Molson dies.

 

Doggie Day at the Movies

In July, Floridians hosted a Canine Film Festival with 25 movies shown at Cinépolis Coconut Grove in Miami and Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes, the Miami New Times reported.

The festival was a fundraiser to raise awareness for animal rescues and shelters such as the South Florida Fund for Retired K9 Law Enforcement Officers, the Miami Veterinary Foundation, Paw Patrol Rescue and Sanctuary, and the Humane Society of Greater Miami. Dog lovers and movie buffs could enjoy the films—which weren’t dog oriented—together plus lots of other doggie events.

 

They’re in the Bags

In New York, your pet dog can’t ride the subway—unless it is “carried in a manner that would not annoy passengers,” The Sun reported and documented recently with lots of photos of all kinds of dogs in all kinds of unusual bags.

Coy commuters are getting around the Metropolitan Transit Authority rule by turning gym bags, backcountry backpacks, even IKEA shopping bags into carrying cases for their dogs of all shapes and sizes. The rule does not state a maximum size of dog, though the notion was to discourage large dogs.

In the Bay Area, BART allows pets to ride free but “the pet must be secured in a container that is specifically manufactured for transport of a pet. Animals at-large or on a leash or harness (other than service dogs) are not allowed.” Likewise, AC Transit requires pets to be “carried in a secure container small enough to fit on the owner’s lap, and the animal must not be a danger or annoyance to other passengers,” and it doesn’t appear to charge additional fees. Muni, however, prohibits pets during peak hours, and on off-peak hours “only one pet per Muni vehicle is allowed to ride. Dogs must be leashed and muzzled and can only ride on the lap of the rider or under their seat; all other pets must be carried in a small closed container on the lap of the rider or under their seat. Pet owners or guardians must pay a fare equal to their own for their pet to ride.”

 

Scratch That Itch

Why do dogs usually like to have their heads scratched?

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor emeritus at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said dogs like the attention plus they can’t really reach the tops of their heads, according to Live Science.

“It’s a relatively inaccessible area that you can reach for them, so you’re doing them a favor in that sense,” Dodman said.

Dogs nuzzling humans with their heads is a sign of affection and a bonding technique, said Leni Kaplan, a lecturer and clinician at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

 

Dogs As Dental Therapists

In Chile, therapy dogs are helping autistic children successfully get through dental appointments without trauma, VOA News reported.

Raul Varela founded a nonprofit, Junto a Ti or Next to You, to supply a trained dog into the dental room to calm autistic children. The program uses six females, and they must stay quiet and still in the child’s lap as the child undergoes his or her exam and treatment.

Varela, the parent of an autistic child and now a certified therapy dog trainer, noticed that his kid’s social interactions improved after time with the family Lab. Varela brought the notion to Santiago dentists, and so far, the dogs have helped about 50 children at a university-run dental clinic in the capital.

 

Mystery to Be Solved?

Four border collies are being hauled to Nikumaroro in the Phoenix Islands north of Fiji to search for the remains of aviatrix Amelia Earhart, the New York Post reported.

That’s where researchers with the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery think Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan may have disappeared in 1937 while circumnavigating the world.

The dogs can sniff out human remains and bones and have searched burial sites as deep as 9 feet and as old as 1,500 years.

Thirteen bones were found there, a landing site the fliers might have thought was Howland Island, in 1940 but then lost. Senior archeologist Tom King said the expedition is “less of a shot in the dark than any expedition we’ve had.”

“No other technology is more sophisticated than the dogs,” said Fred Hiebert, archaeologist in residence at the National Geographic Society, which is sponsoring the canines. “If the dogs are successful, it will be the discovery of a lifetime.”