Friday, December 22, 2017

Can Dogs Make You Live Longer?

Several studies suggest that dog owners, on average, live longer than those who don’t own one. Is it high time to get your own dog?

By Ringo Bones 

Now, more than ever, there is even more of a reason to get a dog: it might help you live longer. A Swedish study published in the Journal of Scientific Reports in November 2017 found that dog ownership is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, amongst other benefits. In the United States, a study between dog owners and the veterinarians who treat their pooches have also shown that people who own dogs benefit from increased physical activity given that dogs need their daily walk around the block as well as support and companionship. The stress-reducing effect of petting a dog and related pets – also play a factor for a healthier overall cardiovascular health among dog owners. For people living alone, dogs can decrease your risk of sudden death by 33-percent and your risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36-percent compared to people living alone that don’t have a pet. 

The benefits don’t only extend to those who live alone, although they have the greatest incentive to adopt a furry family member. Multi-person homes see an 11-percent decrease in their chances of death with a dog at home and a 15-percent lower chance of death due to cardiovascular disease. Researchers found a benefit in owning dogs of all breeds - however, the owners of hunting breeds such as retrievers, terriers and scent hounds saw the most reduced chances from dying of cardiovascular related diseases. While researchers say there’s still more to investigate, benefits are thought to also come in part from increased immunity thanks to dogs bringing dirt into the home from outdoors. Chances are, it seems that longevity and dog ownership might go hand-in-hand?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Music For Dogs, Anyone?

Given that Music for Cats was a runaway success, will Laurie Anderson’s Music For Dogs be the next big thing in the species appropriate music scene? 

By: Ringo Bones 
She is not just the “mere” widow of the late, great Lou Reed; Laurie Anderson is also renowned for her inventive use of technology – from her 1981 hit O Superman to her appointment as NASA’s first artist-in-residence. Laurie Anderson is indeed one of America’s most daring creative pioneers her eclectic multidisciplinary career has spanned the worlds of art, theatre and experimental music and has seen her create works as a writer, director, visual artist and vocalist. But will her Music for Dogs for this year’s Brighton Festival be the next big thing when it comes to the still unoccupied scene of species appropriate music? 

“Wouldn’t it be great if you’re playing a concert and you look out and everyone’s a dog,” Laurie Anderson mused while waiting backstage with cellist Yo-Yo Ma. True to form, Anderson made her outlandish dream come true: first at the Sydney Opera House and again in New York’s Times Square earlier this year, making headlines around the world. The 20-minute long piece has been specifically designed for the canine ear, including frequencies audible only to dogs, as well as other sounds for humans to enjoy. It looks like David Teie’s Music For cats is not the only happening thing in the species appropriate music scene. 

Speaking of how dogs react to music, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - or CSIRO - published research results back in 2012 on the result of a study conducted in cooperation with various veterinarians across Australia on the subject of how dogs react to music. Upbeat music / up-tempo music tend to make dogs more restless and animated while quieter slow tempo music – especially those with violins and cellos by Bach and Mozart – tend to make dogs more relaxed and rested and Laurie Anderson’s 20 minute piece falls into this category. One of the unexpected results of the CSIRO research, dogs have shown a preference to campfire music with guitar and harmonica because they not only howl along with the music but also smile if they get tired with singing along with the piece.   

Friday, February 12, 2016

Music for Cats, Anyone?

Given the healthy Kickstarter support and satisfied early customers, will “Music for Cats” soon be topping the Billboard Singles and Download Charts? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Yes, folks, it is actually a thing and basing on the Kickstarter support during the past few years and satisfied early customer testimonials, it seems like the New York Times actually got it right when it called Cat Music as the number one idea of the year 2009. Music for Cats was born out of cellist David Teie’s scientific theory on the fundamental nature of music appreciation by mammals. He contended that every species has an intuitive biological response to sounds present in their early development. Felines establish their sense of music through the sounds heard after they’re born – i.e. birds chirping or their mother’s purr. With this premise, Teie composed Music for Cats, incorporating feline-centric sounds and their natural vocalizations with respect to a cat’s frequency range of hearing. An independent study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and published in Applied Animal Behavior verified that Music for Cats resonates conclusively with its target audience – namely cats – and writing that “cats showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music.” 

Cellist David Teie was born into a musical family, spanning three generations of professional musicians and a long line of musicians, composers and professional instrumentalists. Since 2014, Teie has been the conductor and music director of Washington D.C.’s premier chamber orchestra – the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra – and currently serves on the faculty at University of Maryland’s School of Music. His career has spanned performing as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra under Russian maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, acting principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony where he performed as cellist on Metallica’s 1999 album S&M. His research has been published in the Royal Society Biology Letters and in Evolution of Emotional Communication. 

According to Teie, cats were our first choice because they’re widely kept as pets, allowing us to easily share music with them. While the most mellifluous of Debussy’s compositions seem to be largely ignored by cats – i.e. most human-centric music seems to be ignored by cats and raising the volume only drives them away. Testimonials by those who already manage to purchase the CD or download the music and tested Teie’s Music for Cats on their own cats say that it has a relaxing and calming effect on their cats, making them less hyperactive and more able to adapt in the indoor domestic environment. Will there soon be hi-fi audio gear specifically designed to please cats? 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Intrigue at the Birmingham Dog Show?

Though a full toxicology report is still pending, is the Birmingham Dog Show now a center of intrigue of this recent Irish setter poisoning case?

By: Ringo Bones

The prize-winning Irish setter known as Thendara Satisfaction – or Jagger for short – died after leaving the Birmingham Dog Show. His owners and a preliminary toxicology report points to the cause of death as the ingestion of poisoned beef. Given the terrible crime, will the Birmingham Dog Show, the Kennel Club and Crufts now be under uncomfortable scrutiny by both dog lovers and the press alike?

Co-owner Jeremy Bott said he did not think that the dog was targeted, but the culprit may have been acting on “a grudge against dogs or the Crufts show”. The Kennel Club said it is currently the only dog poisoning case that’s being investigated. “The Cruffts Committee and all championship show dog committees will have to look at security”.

Jagger came second in his class at the show at Birmingham’s NEC on Thursday, March 5, 2015. He died after returning to Belgium with Ms. Lauwers. Jagger ,to his family was priceless and he serves not only as a family pet but as pet therapy in the local elderly care homes. Jaggerwould sit there and give the residents some delight in him just by being around. The Kennel Club said it was awaiting toxicology report from Belgian police. It said it had not received any other reports of sickness in dogs at Crufts. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dog Blood Therapy, Anyone?

Given that some skilled veterinary clinics already offer blood transfusions for dogs in case of a major trauma or surgery, can donated dog blood also improve the health of another ailing dog of the same blood type?

By: Ringo Bones

A t present, donated dog blood is primarily used in transfusions of dogs undergoing emergency major surgery in cases of extreme trauma that involve cars. Though transfusions can be a lifesaving procedure for your beloved pet, can a dog blood transfusion from a compatible but much healthier donor improve the health of your ailing pooch?

Dog blood is currently considered as the primary lifesaving medicine during emergency pet surgery, but some dog owners have noticed a marked improvement of their dogs overall vitality after receiving blood form a compatible but younger and healthier donor in a transfusion done during a major medical operation. Given that no synthetic dog blood or substitute had been developed yet, dog blood is – for a few years now – considered the most valuable medicine on the veterinarians operating table.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Is Debarking Animal Cruelty?

Often performed on dogs to reduce the sound level of their barking does the veterinary surgical practice of debarking be considered animal cruelty? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The case against the controversial veterinary surgical procedure called debarking recently happened when a Westminster Dog Show prize winning dog died 4 days after winning prizes at the prestigious dog show due to complications incurred during a recent debarking procedure. Debarking - though controversial - is often performed on show dogs to reduce the noise level of their barking usually involves a qualified veterinary surgeon strategically poking holes in the dog’s vocal cords. 

During the past few years, debarking had been a point of contention of animal rights activists – like PETA – not only because it exposes dogs to unnecessary risky surgery which could result in death and / or painful complications but also show-dogs, even in prestigious dog shows such as the Westminster Dog Show, are often bred for good looks with utter disregard to the animal’s long-term health and well-being. And it is not only dog shows that promote unnecessary debarking, some gated communities only allow households to keep debarked dogs on their premises. 

Should the cruel practice of debarking be outlawed? Well, some petitions and campaigns are already out on various social media sites like Facebook but only time will tell when there’s enough of an outcry against debarking that this rather barbaric and unnecessary surgical procedure on dogs should be ended once and for all. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cat Ownership In New Zealand: Not Economically Viable?

After a prominent New Zealand economist label them as “natural born killers” and therefore is a liability, is cat ownership no longer economically viable in the country of New Zealand?

By: Ringo Bones

Unless scientifically verifiable evidence to the contrary emerges, cats had been introduced by the first white European settlers in an otherwise cat-free land of what is now New Zealand about couple of centuries ago.  During their tenure, cats had lead to the extinction of 9 native bird species in New Zealand and have pushed other native fauna to the brink of extinction thus therefore are seen from an ecological perspective as an invasive species in New Zealand. But will a draconian measure of a prominent New Zealand economist of spaying and neutering cats and not replacing the ones left to allow them to gradually go extinct in New Zealand even be an “economically viable” option?

The rather draconian cat ban by Gareth Morgan, a prominent New Zealand economist who is now labeled as the “anti-kitty economist” by his detractors (mainly cat lovers and cat owners) proposes that by spaying and neutering stray cats and even cats with owners and allowing them to gradually die out is the most economically viable way to solve the native wildlife extinction problem in his country. Given that the New Zealand government had set aside large tracks of the country as a protected nature preserve and those outside the country have seen these via last series of movies by Peter Jackson – i.e. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit – is economist Gareth Morgan’s plan for a “cat extermination” the most economically viable way to solve New Zealand’s native species extinction problem? After all, tenured ecologists have since pointed out the three main threats to native wildlife all over the world are pollution, climate change due to excessive greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere causing global warming and an over encroaching human population into ecologically sensitive areas.

According to Bob Kerridge, president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says economist Gareth Morgan’s proposal is too cruel for New Zealand’s feline pets – economic viability or not. Even though being a prominent economist is not yet an elected position in New Zealand, Gareth Morgan could well kiss his future in New Zealand politics goodbye because cat lovers and cat owners in New Zealand won’t be voting him into public office anytime soon.