A complaint over disrespect for the dead by Robert Lau, who has family members buried at Mountain View Cemetery, has resulted in stepped up enforcement of cemetery dog-use rules, the East Bay Times reported recently.
The 224-acre cemetery was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed architect of Central Park in New York City, and offers some of the best sweeping Bay Area views around. It has become a magnet for dog walkers, runners, and nature lovers, as well as a welcome reflective spot for mourners.
In May, cemetery officials posted signs conspicuously that tell visitors their dogs must be on leashes and kept on marked paths and off burial plots. Cemetery officials have also instructed Bay Alarm, which patrols the grounds, to step up its enforcement, said Jeff Lindeman, general manager for the Mountain View Cemetery Association. That includes giving out brochures explaining the rules to owners caught with dogs off leash and escorting them off the premises.
Lau wants cemetery officials to do more and ban dogs altogether, which was the case until 1997. He has filed a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, and he has contacted the trustees who oversee the private nonprofit cemetery, plus city, county, and state officials and news agencies. Lau said that he wants Mountain View to at least enforce the existing dog rules.
Wait and See
California law enforcement agencies that use drug-sniffing dogs to detect marijuana may want to see what other states where pot is legal are doing before making changes to their canine units.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that some cannabis observers and law enforcement officials worry the dogs could create legally murky problems related to searches, detention, and arrests when lawful amounts of pot or cannabis products are involved. California’s drug-trained police dogs go through intensive training and bark or sit when they smell heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or marijuana.
Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, and Denver police continue to use its canine force. “Legalization has almost made it more necessary to have good marijuana dogs, which is something nobody ever expected,” said Denver Police Capt. James Henning.
Seattle Police Department spokesman Sean Whitcomb said drug-sensitive dogs can be retrained to ignore marijuana, which is what Seattle did when Washington legalized pot in 2013. But it can be costly and time consuming.
“It will be up to those agencies to develop a policy that’s best for their community,” said David Ferland, executive director of the U.S. Police Canine Association.
They’re in the Bags
In New York, your 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.”
You’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up
In the future, your dog may be able to call 911 or alert family or friends when you need emergency help, thanks to technology under development at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
CNN recently reported that Melody Jackson, an associate professor and director of the school’s animal and computer interaction lab, and colleagues have developed prototypes—a high-tech vest with a tuggable sensor and a touchscreen like a TV—that can be activated by dogs and will subsequently text or contact someone for help. The technology is part of the FIDO Project, which is exploring ways to improve communication between dogs and humans, especially useful in emergencies.
Jackson, also a dog trainer, and her colleagues have had some success in teaching a border collie, Sky, and other dogs to use the prototypes. They hope the devices will someday be mass marketed, but there are still bugs that need to be worked out, including accidental activation.
Dogs may help strengthen the immune systems of children against allergies and asthma, The Independent reported.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found children on farms who were exposed within their first three months to dogs and other barnyard animals were less likely to have asthma than their counterparts on industrialized farms apart from animals.
The exposure helps create a more diverse biome of flora and fauna, according to Dr. Jack Gilbert of the Microbiome Centre at the University of Chicago, with dogs adding beneficial bacteria and microbes inside homes.
“Dogs have been with humans for 40,000 years,” said Netzin Steklis, a biologist at the University of Arizona, “but we are only now looking to find out how living with them impacts our health.”
It’s unclear whether children exposed to animals and pets early maintain that strong immune system throughout their lives, a hypothesis under exploration.
A new test—the Puppy Training Supervisor Questionnaire, or PTSQ—has shown great promise in determining which puppies will be successful guide dogs, the Daily Mail reported.
Animal behavior experts at the University of Nottingham, working with Guide Dogs, a UK charity, assessed puppies and were correct 84 percent of the time using the test. The questionnaire helps trainers determine adaptability, distractibility, stair anxiety, and other qualities in young dogs when the pups were observed at 5, 8, and 12 months old. Trainers filled out 1,401 questionnaires, which predicted training outcomes with 84 percent accuracy in 16.9 percent of dogs from 5 months to a year old. Researchers believe the data could save time and money in training by eliminating unsuitable pup trainees sooner.
“Predicting working dog suitability in puppies has been a huge challenge to organizations for many years,” said lead researcher, Dr. Naomi Harvey. “We were really pleased that this questionnaire-style behavior assessment was able to effectively identify the dogs who were most, and least, suitable to guiding work, from a young age, and help to highlight those in between dogs who were at risk of failing training.”
In the study, 58 percent of the dogs moved on to qualify as guide dogs. Another 27 percent were found to be behaviorally unsuited for the job, while the rest were disqualified for health reasons.
About Those Noses
The journal Science recently reported that it might be myth that dogs’ noses and sense of smell are vastly superior to humans’. In truth, the olfactory senses are just, well, different.
Researchers from Rutgers University reviewed more than 1,000 scientific papers on humans’ olfactory prowess. In the end, neuroscientist John McGann, the lead researcher, noted that animals, including dogs, do have more olfactory receptors than humans, but people typically have more glomeruli, or smell decoders. That translates into an ability for humans to be able to potentially recognize up to 1 trillion odors, a number similar to what mice and dogs can pick up.
McGann said pups and people use different smelling processes. Humans rely on odors that attach to the receptors, which send messages to the olfactory bulb that are then transmitted to the brain. Dogs, however, have a “pump” that’s better at noticing chemicals in liquid form. Dogs and humans are just configured to recognize different odors, so dogs may be experts at sniffing out pee on a hydrant but wouldn’t be attuned to the scents wafting from a nearby glass of fine wine that a human might notice.
CPV-2c Found in Australia
A new form of canine parvovirus, CPV-2c, has been discovered in Australia by researchers at the University of Adelaide, the university reported.
The new strain of the common and highly contagious dog virus has been spreading worldwide but has not been seen in Australia until now. Over the past two years, cases have occurred in South Australia and Victoria, and suspicious cases have been seen in Queensland and Northern Territory.
The new strain may not be detected in current diagnostic tests. Dogs vaccinated against CPV may not be protected against the new strain, but dog owners should still vaccinate for CPV.
“Canine parvovirus infection (CPV) is a highly contagious viral illness of dogs which attacks the cells lining the small intestine, causing bloody diarrhea and, in severe cases, can be fatal,” said Associate Professor Farhid Hemmatzadeh, veterinary virologist with the university’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.