My first issue of Pug Talk arrived in the mail on Saturday. It’s a bi-monthly magazine that’s been publishing all the news that fit to print about pugs for forty-six years. January/February’s issue covered a wide range of topics, from common household poisons to encephalitis testing to rules for keeping your pug in line (hah!). Some of the articles are written from the pug’s POV, which I personally find a little cloying. You have to be a really good writer to pull that off and not make it cutesy. That’s why I so enjoy The Daily Puglet blog. Puglet’s voice is 100 percent authentic and not the least bit precious.
The siren call of Pug Talk, however, is not the writing. It’s the photos–page after page of the most adorable pugs. I especially fell in love with a handsome young fellow named Spike , a pug who competes in agility trials. Total beefcake! He reminded me of Pablo in his prime. So until the next issue in March, you’ll find me drooling over Spike, Stanley (the pug on the cover), and the rest of their pug cohorts.
Back in May, I wrote a post about Picasso’s befriending of Lump, a friend’s dachshund. Well, Lump is back in the news, or rather his plate is. Back in 1957, David Douglas Duncan, a photographer and the dog’s owner, went to dine at Picasso’s villa in France. Lump tagged along. During the meal, Picasso inquired if Lump had his own plate. He didn’t, so Picasso picked up a nearby brush and dashed off the dog’s likeness. Duncan donated the plate to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, where it will be displayed in an upcoming exhibition.
Similar plates by Picasso have fetched upwards of $90,000. Not bad for an old supper dish!
The American Kennel Club made its yearly announcement of the ten most popular dogs in the US, and the pug, once again, did not make an appearance. The Lab, for the 20th straight year, maintained its position as top dog. The Beagle leapfrogged over the Golden Retriever to take the number 4 spot, and the Bulldog came in at 6, enjoying its highest ranking in 100 years. Bravo, Bulldog!
Over in the UK, however, the pug made headlines when the breed nudged in at number 9 on the Brit’s Kennel Club’s list. Even there, though, a mere 5,726 pugs were registered. Compare that to how many people registered the number one dog–like here, the Lab–a jaw-dropping 44,099.
Kelly Osbourne with her pug
And the longer it is, the better. At least according to a recent study entitled “Behavioral responses of Canis familiaris to different tail lengths of a remotely-controlled life-size dog replica.”
In simple terms, does the length of a dog’s tail matter to other dogs? Sorry, Pablo. The answer is yes.
In the study, 500 dogs were videotaped as they approached a robot dog with either a short tail or a long one. Sometimes the tail was wagging and sometimes it was still. The results? A wagging long tail won out. Dogs were more likely to approach this robot without hesitation than a robot with a short tail, whether wagging or still. The researchers concluded that dogs find it easier to understand what a tail is saying (one way dogs communicate is through their tails) when the tail is long. Dogs with short, curled, or docked tails have a harder time getting their messages across.
Read more about the story in this blog post by Bark magazine, while I go and console Pablo.
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.
Moonlight (deceased) and OC Caught in the Act
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.