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Shelter Dogs May Become Official Dog of West Virginia

In mid-January, Charleston, West Virginia, was considering making shelter dogs the official dog of the state.

TV station WIBM reported that Sens. Ryan Weld and Stephe Baldwin sponsored the resolution to draw attention to the canines that reside in more than 500 animal shelters in the state.

“Just because a dog is at a shelter doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the dog,” said Weld, a Republican. “That dog needs a second chance and is looking for a new friend, just like you might be.”

The state Senate approved the measure, which moves to the state’s House of Delegates. West Virginia has a number of “state” flora and fauna, including the black bear as the state animal, the sugar maple as the state tree, the cardinal as the state bird, and the rhododendron as the state flower.

Smart Strays

Liz Langley of National Geographic reported recently that stray dogs — even ones that haven’t lived with people — have a natural ability to understand human gestures

As many as 300 million stray dogs roam the planet, with about 30 million in India. These canines often come into conflict with people and can pose a public health risk for rabies.

In recent experiments, Anindita Bhadra, animal behaviorist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, discovered that most stray dogs knew where to look when a human was pointing to an object, suggesting they are born with an ability to read humans. The findings could help educate adults and children — who are often bitten and infected with rabies while sharing food with stray dogs — how to interact with tdogs, leading to “a more peaceful co-existence,” she said.  

The study was published in mid-January in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. Experimenters approached 160 solitary stray dogs in several Indian cities and placed two covered bowls on the ground near them, one containing raw chicken, the other empty with the scent of food. A separate experimenter would point at one of the bowls. Of the half number of dogs that approached, about 80 percent went to the bowl to which the experimenter had pointed, meaning they understood the human’s gesture. The study suggests that untrained dogs can relate to humans, despite likely having had traumatic experiences with them.

10 Fun Facts About Dogs

The Farmers’ Almanac mentions 10 fascinating dog facts:

1. Dogs can tell time and can predict future events based on past experiences. 2. Dogs get jealous. 3. Dogs can smell illness. 4. The average lifespan of a dog is 10 to 13 years with smaller breeds living the longest. 5. Dogs poop in alignment with the earth’s magnetic field. 6. Newborn puppies are almost as helpless as human babies. 7. A dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human’s. 8. Dogs are not color blind: The dog’s color field includes shades of blue, violet, and yellow. 9. The United States has the highest population of pet dogs in the world — 75.8 million. 10. Yes, your dog’s feet do smell like corn chips. It turns out, that earthy corn-chip smell is a totally natural and a common effect of certain bacteria that live on even the cleanest dog paws.

Sounding It Out

According to Psychology Today, dogs can recognize subtle distinctions in spoken word sounds like humans and do so better than previously thought.

Recognizing word sounds in speech is difficult, because such small differences in sound frequencies can alter meanings. Plus, speech sounds change depending upon the speaker. Because of such complexities, researchers have argued that spontaneous recognition of speech sounds uniquely human.

But a team of scientists headed by Holly Root-Gutteridge at the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex now thinks otherwise. The researchers recorded strings of six similar words from 13 male and 14 male speakers. The dog sat with its owner near an audio speaker that played one string. When a speaker in a sequence said a new word with a different vowel, the dogs perked up, indicating they noticed a difference. It should be noted, however, that investigators couldn’t demonstrate that the dogs actually understood what the words meant.  

Color Him Green

TV station 13 WLOS reported in January that a green puppy had been born in Canton, North Carolina.

Shana Stamey and her family knew their white German shepherd, Gypsy, was about to deliver puppies. The puppies came in early January. Gypsy had a litter of eight. All went as expected, until the fourth pup.

“And then I realized the puppy was moving, and he was lime green,” Stamey said.

Why was he green?

“The sack that they’re in when they’re in their mom, there can be meconium in there and that tends to stain them,” Junaluska Animal Hospital veterinarian technician Suzanne Cianciulli said. Meconium is an infant mammal’s earliest stool. It can especially color white fur.

“I knew it wasn’t, like, harmful. But I still had to look it up again to make sure,” Stamey said. “Mom licks it away until I bathe it, and, then, I guess after a couple of weeks, it will finally like fade out.”

What do you name a green pup with an aggressive appetite?

“Hulk! It was lime green. He was super mad. So, yeah, he became Hulk,” Stamey said. Her family enjoyed the naming possibilities. “We thought about Gremlin, yeah, Pistachio. We call him Mr. Green sometimes.” 

At least for now, Hulk is a standout from his brothers and sisters. But the green is fading gradually to white.

“Because he’s yellow now someone said Pikachu,” Stamey said with a laugh.

Stamey said if her family had a big farm, they’d keep the puppies. The family plans on looking for loving families to adopt them when they’re old enough. But they figure, like finding a four-leaf clover, they’re lucky to have Hulk.

 “A good luck charm. We think so. He’s pretty special,” Stamey said.

Playlist for Pets

Spotify now has playlists for your dog, your cat, and even your hamster or other pet.

Sara Spary of CNN Business recently reported on the new music service for dogs.

The Swedish audio streaming site, which has 113 million subscribers, has launched a range of “algorithmically curated” pet playlists and a new podcast intended to calm pets at home alone.The playlists are based on subscribers’ musical tastes and pet species.

The “My Dog’s Favourite Podcast,” Spotify said, has been created with animal experts to alleviate stress. It includes two five-hour stretches and features reassuring human voices, relaxing music, and ambient sounds, including rain. British actors Ralph Ineson and Jessica Raine from the HBO series Game of Thrones and BBC period drama Call The Midwife respectively do the voiceover.

Neil Evans, an animal physiologist and professor at the University of Glasgow who worked with Spotify to develop the podcast, said providing dogs with “auditory enrichment” could help them to achieve a more “relaxed physiological state.”

Alex Benjamin, an animal psychologist from the University of York, who also worked on the podcast, said playing Spotify to pets could help soothe them by masking the “startling sounds of the outside world such as traffic, car doors slamming, or the bins being emptied.”

Allergy News

People’s allergic reactions to dogs, reports CNN in Philadelphia, may be less acute or altogether gone with neutered male dogs.  

“Up to 30 percent of people who are allergic to dogs are actually allergic to one specific protein that’s made in the prostate of a dog,” said Dr. Lakiea Wright, an allergist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “If you’re allergic to only that specific protein in the male dog, you may be able to tolerate a female or a neutered dog.”  

It’s not the hair of the pet that triggers the allergic reaction — it’s proteins in the urine, saliva, and dander (or dead skin cells), of the dog or cat that trigger an oversensitive immune system to react. 

The Snark Factor

 Boredpanda offered a bright dog idea recently to protect your pet from getting lost, reporting that a North Carolina tag and decal manufacture, Eastcoast Engraving, has come up with some funny sayings to engrave on dog tags that might prompt a pet finder to laugh — and call the wandering pet’s owner immediately.

Some favorites: 

Oh Shit I’m Lost. Call My Mom

She Is Ugly Crying

… Really Ugly

I Got Lost Prowling for Bitches

Have Your People 

Call My People

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

But I Might Be

Oh Snap I’m Lost.

Please Call My Mom.

The shop offers clean versions of their funniest tags and simple tags with only the pet’s name engraved.


Idaho Loves Dogs

In a nationwide pet ownership survey by — a website devoted to providing information to seniors — Idaho ranks No. 1 in families with at least one dog in the household, the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press reported recently.

The numbers, based on five years of data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, show 58.3 percent of Idaho households have a dog, with Montana trailing at a distant second with 51.9 percent.

Noteworthy in the study is how Idaho’s dog ownership has ballooned in the five years since the study began. Since 2013, dog ownership climbed 21.2 percent to reach the 58.3 percent overall, well above the national average of 38.4 percent.

Tanya Hicks of Coeur d’Alene took in her two Australian shepherds — Kona and Kai — four years ago, falling into that five-year growth spurt. Hicks said she wasn’t sure why Idaho would rank highest in the country in dog ownership, dismissing the notion of a more adventurous outdoor state drawing more attention from dog lovers.

 “It’s pretty cold,” she admitted, bundled up for her brisk walk. “Dogs need to be walked. I love my dogs, but not because I like the outdoors. I’d rather be inside. I just love dogs.”

Debbie Jeffrey, executive director of the Kootenai Humane Society, said she can attest to the statistics revealing who really is top dog. 

“We get dogs in, and they don’t stay very long,” Jeffrey said. “This area is full of people able and willing to provide good homes to dogs. [The study was] no surprise to me.”