Posts Tagged ‘dog’

by David Moye

Talk about exceeding expectations: A former runt of the litter has grown up to be the tallest dog in the world.

Guinness World Records declared Freddy, a 4-year-old Great Dane in Leigh-on-Sea, U.K., the world’s tallest living dog in December.

Claire Stoneman, his proud owner, announced the news on Dec. 20.

Freddy is officially 40.75 inches tall and a whopping 7 feet, 5.5 inches when standing on his hind legs, according to the International Business Times.

He comes close to the measurements of Zeus, a Great Dane from Otsego, Michigan, currently recognized by Guinness as the tallest dog to ever live. Zeus, who died in 2011 at the age of 5, measured in at 44 inches tall and 7 feet, 4 inches on his hind legs.

Freddy’s honor is especially amazing considering how tenuous his first weeks of life were, Stoneman said.

“I got him a couple of weeks earlier than I should have done because he wasn’t feeding off mum, so he was pretty poorly” she told IBT. “He was half the size of [his sister] Fleur when he was tiny so I had no idea he was going to be this big at all.”

As you might expect, Freddy has a big appetite.

Stoneman figures she spends about $123 a week on food, mostly whole roast chickens and peanut butter on toast, according to UPI.com.

Naturally, Freddy attracts a big crowd whenever he is out in public.

“If we go out in the daytime we get interrupted every five seconds,” she told the BBC. “Cars brake and stop to look at him.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/freddy-great-dane-tallest-dog_us_5866d251e4b0de3a08f877e9

By Jacqueline Howard

Whether you call them gray hairs or stress highlights, world-renowned animal scientist and autism advocate Temple Grandin wants you to know that dogs may get them prematurely, too — possibly when stressed, such as being left at home alone.

Premature graying in dogs may be an indicator of anxiety and impulsivity, according to a study published in this month’s edition of the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, in which Grandin served as a co-author.

Camille King, an animal behaviorist and owner of the Canine Education Center in Denver, noticed a few years ago that many impulsive and anxious dogs seemed to be prematurely turning gray. When King told Grandin about her observations, Grandin said she encouraged King to lead the research.

“The first thing I thought of when she told me that were the presidents, and how they age and get prematurely gray,” said Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, referring to American commanders in chief.

“The fact that presidents turn prematurely gray was one of the things that made me encourage her to do the study,” Grandin said. “Basically, (the study findings) validated what she had seen in years of doing dog behavior work.”

The study, conducted at Northern Illinois University, involved 400 dogs, 4 years old or younger, with non-white-colored hair so the researchers could adequately determine degrees of graying.

“Normally, dogs wouldn’t be gray at age 4,” Grandin said.

The study, conducted at Northern Illinois University, involved 400 dogs, 4 years old or younger, with non-white-colored hair so the researchers could adequately determine degrees of graying.

“Normally, dogs wouldn’t be gray at age 4,” Grandin said.

Next, the researchers compared the survey responses with how much gray hair appeared on the dogs’ muzzles in their photos.
Grandin helped the researchers build a scoring system to measure the degrees of grayness: A score of 0 is “no gray;” 1 is for gray on the front of the nose only; 2 is for gray hair halfway up the muzzle; and 3 is “full gray.”

It turned out that a high grayness score was significantly and positively predicted by survey responses that indicated both high anxiety and impulsivity.

“Essentially, the results indicate that for each standard deviation increase in the measured trait, either anxiety or impulsiveness, the odds of being in a higher rating category of muzzle grayness increase 40% to 65%,” said Thomas Smith, a professor at Northern Illinois University’s Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment, who was a co-author of the study.

Smith added that he was initially skeptical that a dog’s premature muzzle grayness might be linked to anxiety and impulsiveness.

“However, when we analyzed the data, the results actually were striking,” he said. “I was surprised.”
A similar association between stress and premature graying possibly could be found in other mammals, outside of humans and dogs, but more research is needed, Grandin said.

The new study appears to extend what has been previously seen in people — the relationship between stress and gray hair — to dogs, said Matt Kaeberlein, a professor and co-director of the University of Washington’s Dog Aging Project, who was not involved in the new study.

“There are a few things about this study that I really like. One is that it nicely illustrates another way in which dogs and humans are similar, specifically in this case, the way we interact with our environment to experience stress. I like the innovative approach of applying facial image recognition to dogs,” Kaeberlein said.

“I do think it’s important to keep in mind that while hair graying is a useful ‘biomarker’ of aging and experienced stress, it is not particularly precise. We should avoid interpreting causation from correlation,” he said about the study. “Many dogs and people get gray hair for reasons unrelated to their perception of stress or anxiety, so while anxiety (or) stress appears to cause hair graying, gray hair is not necessarily caused by anxiety or stress. In other words, just because your dog gets gray hair doesn’t mean she or he is stressed out.”

For instance, more research is needed to determine how much genetics might play a role not only in premature graying in young dogs but also how a dog might respond to stress, Grandin said. She added that additional research could also determine how much of the study results were influenced by anxiety and impulsivity, respectively.

“There’s probably some genetic influence where some dogs that are impulsive and anxious don’t turn gray. You see, that would be your genetic interaction, but when you take a big population of dogs, it statistically comes out that anxious and impulsive dogs are more likely to start turning gray before age 4,” Grandin said.

“Genetic factors are important, but genetic factors also can be modified by experience, so you can’t just say an animal’s hard-wired genetics, it’s not. It’s both. Both genetics and the environment are important,” she said.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/23/health/stress-dogs-gray-hair/index.html

Psychologists studied how 28 horses reacted to seeing photographs of positive versus negative human facial expressions. When viewing angry faces, horses looked more with their left eye, a behaviour associated with perceiving negative stimuli. Their heart rate also increased more quickly and they showed more stress-related behaviours. The study, published February 10 in Biology Letters, concludes that this response indicates that the horses had a functionally relevant understanding of the angry faces they were seeing. The effect of facial expressions on heart rate has not been seen before in interactions between animals and humans.

Amy Smith, a doctoral student in the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group at the University of Sussex who co-led the research, said: “What’s really interesting about this research is that it shows that horses have the ability to read emotions across the species barrier. We have known for a long time that horses are a socially sophisticated species but this is the first time we have seen that they can distinguish between positive and negative human facial expressions.”

“The reaction to the angry facial expressions was particularly clear — there was a quicker increase in their heart rate, and the horses moved their heads to look at the angry faces with their left eye.”

Research shows that many species view negative events with their left eye due to the right brain hemisphere’s specialisation for processing threatening stimuli (information from the left eye is processed in the right hemisphere).

Amy continued: “It’s interesting to note that the horses had a strong reaction to the negative expressions but less so to the positive. This may be because it is particularly important for animals to recognise threats in their environment. In this context, recognising angry faces may act as a warning system, allowing horses to anticipate negative human behaviour such as rough handling.”

A tendency for viewing negative human facial expressions with the left eye specifically has also been documented in dogs.

Professor Karen McComb, a co-lead author of the research, said: “There are several possible explanations for our findings. Horses may have adapted an ancestral ability for reading emotional cues in other horses to respond appropriately to human facial expressions during their co-evolution. Alternatively, individual horses may have learned to interpret human expressions during their own lifetime. What’s interesting is that accurate assessment of a negative emotion is possible across the species barrier despite the dramatic difference in facial morphology between horses and humans.”

“Emotional awareness is likely to be very important in highly social species like horses — and our ongoing research is examining the relationship between a range of emotional skills and social behaviour.”

The horses were recruited from five riding or livery stables in Sussex and Surrey, UK, between April 2014 and February 2015. They were shown happy and angry photographs of two unfamiliar male faces. The experimental tests examined the horses’ spontaneous reactions to the photos, with no prior training, and the experimenters were not able to see which photographs they were displaying so they could not inadvertently influence the horses.

Journal Reference: Amy Victoria Smith, Leanne Proops, Kate Grounds, Jennifer Wathan and Karen McComb. Functionally relevant responses to human facial expressions of emotion in the domestic horse (Equus caballus). Biology Letters, 2016 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0907

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160209221158.htm

A Washington state animal shelter says a dog dutifully stood guard for a nearly a week on Vashon Island to protect another dog that had fallen in a cistern.

Tillie, a setter mix, only left Phoebe’s side to try to alert people of her trapped friend.

Amy Carey of Vashon Island Pet Protectors says the two were found Tuesday after they were reported missing by their owners last week. Vashon Island Pet Protectors says volunteers looking for the pair received a call about a reddish dog being seen on someone’s property a few times before promptly heading back into the ravine.

Carey says the Pet Protectors followed the tip and found Tillie lying beside an old cistern. Inside rescuers found Phoebe, a basset hound, on a pile of stones above the water.

The dogs were cold and hungry but otherwise unharmed.

“It’s really quite remarkable,” Carey said.

http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:9c331f3640d040c5ba3be1c8ebd32e2e

A 10-year-old mutt named Quasi Modo, whose spinal birth defects left her a bit hunchbacked, is the winner of this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog contest.

The pit bull-Dutch shepherd mix and her owner took the $1,500 prize Friday night, besting 25 other dogs competing in the contest that applauds imperfection, organizers said.

And though the name might make you think of the Quasimodo character in the Victor Hugo tale “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” this dog is female, not male as some thought.

Karen Spencer, marketing director for the Sonoma-Marin Fair, said she was notified Friday night by Quasi Modo’s owner that the world’s newly crowned ugliest dog is a she, and not a he.

Quasi Modo was abandoned at an animal shelter before being adopted by a veterinarian in Loxahatchee, Florida, according to her biography posted on the contest’s website.

Two Chinese crested and Chihuahua mixes named Sweepee Rambo and Frodo took the second- and third-place prizes, respectively.

An 8-year-old Chihuahua named Precious received the “spirit award,” honoring a dog and owner who have overcome obstacles and/or are providing service to the community. Precious, who is blind in one eye, is trained to monitor smells related to low blood sugar levels and alert her owner, a disabled veteran, of the problem, her biography said.

The contest, held at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma, is in its 27th year.

The dogs are scored by a three-judge panel in several categories, including special or unusual attributes, personality and natural ugliness.

http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:0f37773b882c4941ae96d9d4287b69e3