So Pablo and I are not as deeply bonded as I’d thought. Sob. According to a recent NY Times article on canine intelligence, one way to test if you and your dog are strongly bonded is to yawn and see if your dog reciprocates. Well, I’ve yawned until my lips ache and Pablo just looks at me as if to say, “What is that crazy person doing?”
Above is a shot of Pablo yawning–just to show that he does know how!
Today’s New York Times has an interesting article on the art of naming dogs. Some suggestions include:
1. Stick to names of one or two syllables.
2. Names that end in in a long vowel or a short “a” are good.
3. Include a hard consonant like a “k” to get the dog’s attention. (Apparently dogs hear these better.)
4. Eschew trendy names.
5. Uncommon names, though, stand out.
6. Pick a name you’re willing to repeat. A lot.
So how does Pablo’s name stack up? Well, it aces suggestions one and two. As for numbers four and five, his name certainly isn’t trendy, and it does stand out at the dog park. (I’ve never met another dog named Pablo. Have you?) And I like the way it sounds, so it’s a go for suggestion six as well. The only criteria his name doesn’t match is a hard consonant sound. So I’m thinking of changing his name. Pabko! Here, Pabko!
If you’re interested in learning how Pablo got his name, click here for an earlier post.
When Pablo was a pupster he cuddled up beside me to watch the Westminster Dog Show, barking his approval when the show dogs paraded past the judges. As he got older, he stopped watching, no doubt catching on that the shows were more for human than canine enjoyment. Well, the entertainment idustry has wised up and TV has finally gone to the dogs. DogTV, a cable network, puts on programs specifically aimed for your pooch. The idea is to soothe and entertain your dog while you’re away. Right now DogTV is available only in San Diego but by year’s end it should be available nationwide. In the meantime your pooch can always check it out online.
Read more about DogTV in this New York Times article.
copyright New York Times
For the past few months both K and I have noticed that Pablo is a little stiff when he gets up from a snooze, not surprising since he just turned ten. After he’s up and about, he’s fine. And he still enjoys our hour-long walks in the morning. Still, his stiffness concerns me and I wish there was a way to ease his discomfort. Well, maybe there is.
Today’s New York Times had an article on massage for dogs and how it’s becoming all the rage, with dog owners even taking classes to learn the finer points on giving their pooches the ultimate rubdown. One woman interviewed specifically mentioned that she massages her collie to help ease his arthritis.
Of course, the experts are divided on the subject. But isn’t that always the case? Some say massage is no better than petting. Others are willing to allow that it can be beneficial and can help an animal “recover from illness, injuries, and stress.”
So do I try massage with Pablo or not? Judging by the blissful, contented look on the dog above, it might be worth a try. But since I can’t see laying out mega bucks on lessons, maybe a book is the way to go. And of course a number of such titles exist, Canine Massage: A Practical Guide being one of them. Or I might go the DVD route. I’ll keep you posted.
Which type of pet owners are you? According to Indiana University sociologist David Blouin, pet owners fall into one of the three above categories. A dominionist views animals “as an appendage to the family, a useful helper ranking below humans that is beloved but, ultimately, replaceable.” My paternal grandmother was this sort. For her, animals were animals and she wasn’t overly sentimental about them. She kept a cat to keep her house rodent-free, not because she liked their company. When a pet outlived its usefulness it was put down. No tears.
My maternal grandmother, however, fit firmly in the next category. A humanist treats his or her pet as a child, pampering the animal and even allowing it into the family bed. Sound familiar to readers of this blog? Guilty as charged.
A protectionist is an animal advocate, doing what he or she sees as best for the animal. Protectionists often have strong views about how animals should be treated. A member of PETA would be an example of a protectionist.
According to a New York Times article on the subject, problems can arise when families are made up of members with different ideologies. My grandmother’s matter-of-fact view about animals was distressing to me at times, especially when I once visited her to walk the dog and found her missing. She was my father’s dog and not long after he died, my grandmother had her put down. A perfectly healthy dog. However, I’m not perfect. I lean too far the other way. When it was time for my last three cats to go on their final journey, I waited too long, unable to do what was best for them. So I’m a humanist striving to be a protectionist. What are you?
You might think after reading yesterday’s post that Pablo actually sleeps in his dog bed full time. Not so. The dog bed is where he parks his butt during the daytime hours. At night either K or I pick him up and bring him upstairs (Pablo does not climb stairs) and deposit him on the bed. He makes a beeline for the biggest, softest pillow and curls up until one of us dislodges him from his throne. Then he heads to the foot of the bed, plops down with a disgruntled sigh, and is soon asleep.
Sleeping with one’s pet is not unique, even though a recent CDC study warns of the dangers it could bring. Cat scratch fever, meningitis, and even bubonic plague are all possibilities. The two California doctors who conducted the study admit that the risks are rare. Still they advise against allowing pets in the bedroom.
Here’s my two cents. I believe in adhering to the many reasonable safety precautions that exist– such as buckling my seatbelt every time I’m in the car. But I’m willing to risk the extremely rare chance I might get bubonic plague in favor of cuddling with my dog.
Plenty of people apparently feel the same. In an article in The New York Times pet owners confess to the comfort of sleeping with their dogs and cats. When my partner of twenty years died suddenly eight years ago, Pablo’s warm furry body next to mine helped me make it through many a long, lonely night.
One woman from Woodstock does seem to take it a bit far. She sleeps with two cats, three dogs, and a potbellied pig. Hey, whatever floats your boat, I say. The NYT article points out that the woman finds it hard to get a date. I wonder why.
Another interesting article in this week’s New York Times, this one about feeding your dogs (and cats) organic, non-processed foods from scratch. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat less processed foods. A side benefit is that Pablo will be eating less as well. As Cesar Millan is quoted as saying in the article, “The dog has always been a mirror of the human style of life.”
So far, I have been keeping to my resolution and cooking more from scratch. This week I made a huge pot of vegetarian pea soup, chili made from organic beef, and oven-baked organic chicken thighs. Since I eat leftovers for lunch, I’m guaranteed at least two processed-food-free meals a day. (Breakfast is usually cereal or English muffins with cream cheese.) I also eat two to three servings of fresh fruit a day. My downfall is snacking on vegetable chips (baked) and occasional nibbles of dark chocolate, both processed. Sigh. Pablo has enjoyed all the meals, but that is hardly surprising.
Three of the dogs mentioned in the article are 12, 15, and 16 years old. Two cats are 25 years old. All the animals are thriving on their organic diets. The article points out that nutritional requirements have to be met exactly, and that animals fed a diet lacking in essential nutrients could be harmed. I don’t know if I’m up to grinding raw chicken necks, livers, cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, berries, garlic, and parsley for Pablo. Also, I’d worry about the correct amount to feed him. Still, an organic diet is something to consider as Pablo approaches his tenth birthday. I shall have to investigate further.
Chaser (Cass Sapir/Nova Science Now)
Last summer I tested Pablo’s IQ, and while he did more than okay on some tasks (those having to do with food), in others he was sorely lacking. Well perhaps there’s hope for him yet! An article in today’s New York Times features a border collie named Chaser, and she knows more than 1,000 words. Not only that, she’s a wiz with grammar too, able to distinguish between nouns and verbs. Pretty impressive!
John W. Pilley, the scientist who taught the pooch her vocabulary, got Chaser as a pup in 2004. He worked with her four to five hours every day, teaching her a word or two a day. Chaser loved the challenge and still does, badgering him if they slack off. According to Pilley, “I’m 82, and I have to go to bed to get away from her.”
Chaser knows way more words than Rico, a border collie living in Germany, that was recently featured on the NOVA’s Dogs Decoded. A new NOVA episode, How Smart Are Dogs?, will air on February 9th, and this one will highlight Chaser. Can’t wait to see it. And, maybe, just maybe, Pablo will learn something to make his IQ go up a point or two.
According to an article in Tuesday’s New York Times:
It was 1941, shortly before the invasion of the Soviet Union, and an anonymous source tipped off the Nazi authorities: A businessman named Tor Borg, of Tampere, Finland — a country that was friendly to the Nazis but not occupied by the Reich — had a black-and-white spotted dog that he taught to mock Hitler. The German vice consul in Helsinki, Willy Erkelenz, wrote that “a witness, who does not want to be named, said he saw and heard how Borg’s dog reacted to the command ‘Hitler’ by raising its paw.”
Read the full article here.
I read an interesting article in today’s New York Times about a training program held in southern PA for hunting dog breeds (basset hounds, dachshunds, beagles, etc.) that have never hunted before. These dogs, your average house dogs whose most strenuous activity previously was jumping off the sofa to waddle to the dinner bowl, are paired with experienced, prize-winning hunting dogs. Set off on the trail of a rabbit, each paired team is cheered on by its owners. The usual result is that the pro dog is off like a shot after the rabbit (no rabbits were harmed according to the article), while the rookie remains behind like Ferdinand the Bull to smell the flowers.
This led me to wondering what field event pugs would qualify for. Since they are bred to be companion dogs, perhaps a lap-sitting trial? Experienced dogs, such as Pablo, would be paired with pugs who have never seen a lap. Out in the field, the dogs would be exposed to a sea of laps and cheered on as they curled up comfortably and began to snore.
The article reminded me of the only athletic event in which Pablo participated. It was a few years back at a Pug Meet in upstate NY. The organizers set up a race for all the pugs. At one end, an owner held his/her pug at the starting line. Three hundred or so feet away another owner crouched with a treat in hand. I had high hopes for Pablo, an athletic pug in his prime. An official counted down—three… two…one…. And they were off. Except they weren’t. The entire line of pugs behaved much like the twits in a Monty Python sketch. They stumbled off every which way, oblivious to their owners’ frantic calls. The only pug that eventually made it across the finish line was an elderly pug creeping along with a wheeled cart for its back legs.