Dog parks are gold mines of information about the behavior of dogs and humans. In this brief essay I consider a number of common questions and provide "quick answers" and many different references to which readers can go. While we know a lot about dogs there also are many holes in the database despite claims to the contrary. There are numerous projects waiting to be done.
Why is natural death wrong for our companion animals? Why is it a dangerous idea that animals could be—at least in some circumstances—kept comfortable and shielded from significant suffering as they live out their last days? And to turn the question backwards, why is euthanasia the unchallenged imperative in veterinary medicine?
Gender equality is making strides in most occupations, including violent ones such as the military and police. If violent crime is a “job,” as Woody Allen referred to bank robbery in Take the Money and Run, can we expect to see gender equality there also?
Research once again shows rats display empathy so why do we continue to torture them in all sorts of invasive research? In the latest study rats were found to save other rats from drowning rather than eat chocolate and were "more likely to help when they’ve had an unpleasant swimming experience of their own, adding to growing evidence that the rodents feel empathy."
A new book by Barry Estabrook called "Pig Tales: An Omnivore's Quest for Sustainable Meat " could make a huge difference in people's meal plans. Following in Temple Grandin's footsteps Mr. Estabrook argues that pigs need to be treated better before they're killed on the way to people's mouth and that killing "happy pigs" is just fine. But, really, no one has to eat a pig.
A new book by Gill Garratt, a psychologist and specialist in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) called "Your dog and you...: Understanding the canine psyche," is a very useful guide for forming close relationships between dogs and humans. The combination of scientific data, numerous case studies, and exceptional photographs make this book a most valuable read.
Living with a pet provides humans with many physical and psychological benefits. Research shows that the health and well-being of pet owners is greater than that of non-pet-owners. But what about our pets? Sure, we buy them treats and care for them. But do they get deeper, more important rewards from their human relationships? And how might this come about?
Temple Grandin told me that some (but not all) people with autism have a special way with animals. This new study examined the biological mechanisms behind the soothing effects Guinea pigs can have on children with autism spectrum disorders.
How focusing on the positive helps us overcome obstacles. What we want is often more powerful than what we fear. But if we’re not careful in how we frame our goals, we may be setting ourselves up for disappointment—and inadvertently turn our fears into reality.
Dogs that have been trained to high levels of performance in any of a number of skills (e.g., agility, schutzhund, search and rescue, retrieving, musical freestyle, etc.) become better problem solvers on totally unrelated tasks.
A new study shows captive killer whales don't live as long as wild relatives. The researchers show that "62 to 81 percent of wild female killer whales live at least 15 years. In contrast, only 27 percent of the now-dead females in the captive study survived that long. Roughly half of the still-living captive female whales are at least 15 years old."
Elizabeth Abbott's "Dogs and Underdogs: Finding Happiness at Both Ends of the Leash" and Toni Shelbourne's "Among the Wolves" are excellent reads. Both books are filled with personal stories about these amazing beings and show how we can rescue and help them and they can in turn rescue and help us. Both also raise numerous questions about human-animal relationships.
I just returned home from a most inspiring conference called "Growing Together: Kids, Animals and Sowing the Seeds of Resiliency" held at Green Chimneys in Brewster, New York. This interdisciplinary gathering on human-animal interaction shows how much can be done for the kids and the animals who in many ways rescue, help, and heal one another. Green Chimneys rocks!