Weekend Links

October 18, 2008 at 1:21 am 1 comment

October is the best time of year.  October rocks.  Warm days, cool nights, gorgeous fall colors.  October also means I’ve got too much to do.  Gardens to muck out.  Gutters to clear.  Leaves to rake. Lawns to mow.  Dogs to hike with.  The corpses of millions of dead bugs to clear off my porches.  Canning.  Making hard cider.

So, since I’m wayyy to busy to write, I’m going to send you on to some other folks that aren’t.

First a trip to see my friend Selma at Caveat.  Yesterday she posted links to a couple of sites with fascinating information on the smell of fear.  Specifically from the folks at Nobel Intent:

Alarm pheromones warn animals of the same species that there is danger present, like predators, cause for injuries, or other distressing hazards. When animals pick up alarm pheromones, they react by freezing, running away, or attacking. For a while, scientists were puzzled by how animals detected these pheromones, but researchers from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, found strong evidence that the Grueneberg ganglion is responsible for this recognition.

Yes folks, apparently dogs really can smell fear.  In another excellent post discussing the results of studies on the Grueneberg ganglion Fred over at One Bark at a Time writes:

Scientists were able to pinpoint the Grueneberg ganglion as the alarm receptor in animals by removing it in mice (a lot of mice paid dearly for this little piece of knowledge). Unaltered mice froze when alarm pheromones were sprayed into the air around them but mice with their Gg’s removed behaved normally.

The reaction of an animal on sensing alarm pheromones is fight, flight or freeze. You see this all the time between new dog interactions. Two dogs will approach each other, sniffing. Sometimes, the sniffing continues undisturbed and maybe play or indifference follows. But other times, the sniffing suddenly stops and one or both of the dogs freeze. Tensions rise – even the humans can sense that – and the dogs need to be pulled apart immediately or else a scrap breaks out. Because the anxiety level amongst the dogs at Toronto Animal Services is pretty high, as at any shelter or pound, the place must be saturated with alarm pheromones and it’s no wonder that a lot of dogs will snarl or cringe in the presence of other dogs there. It’s actually quite amazing that it doesn’t happen all the time.

In a wonderful bit of insight he adds:

This also explains why the dogs at the shelter, or anywhere for that matter, can react so differently to different people. Sometimes someone might ask me about a specific dog and I’ll say, “Oh that dog seems pretty friendly” and then I see the person hesitantly approaching the dog and the dog starts backing away in its kennel, barking. What I should say is, “Yeah, that dog’s pretty friendly if you’re not scared of it.”

I see these kinds of reactions a lot.  A client will bring me a dog who is aggressive to most people — and the dog turns into a wiggling puddle of happy at my feet.  Or I see a dog who is “terrified of everything” (or all men, or hats or whatever) — and when I take his leash and work him alone for a few minutes — he forgets all about it.  And now of course it makes sense.  I’m cool as a cucumber.  I don’t have a history of being afraid of, of for, the dog and I don’t stink of fear.

When I have time, I need to look into this in more detail.

Our next link is to an old post over on Deputy Dog called Ten Dog houses I’d Actually Live In.  They range from a traditional cape cod with storm windows and air-conditioning to a hip, minimalist plexiglass model.  Check them out!

From If It’s Hip It’s Here a cool gallery of images of people wearing clothes knitted out of hair collected from their own dogs.  Not only are many of these impressive bits of needlework and recycling – but several of the dogs are Leonbergers [sigh], including the one shown below – who looks just like my Sweet Pea. [sigh]

Speaking of links, last but not least we’ve got this story from the Telegraph about a Labrador Retriever that swallowed thirteen golf balls.  The problem was discovered when the dog’s owner heard an “unusual rattling sound” coming from the dog’s abdomen.  The dog’s owner was intervied in the Telegraph:

He said: “He finds golf balls like truffles. We’re not sure how long exactly this happened over – but it must have been a fair period, several months at least.

“I felt his stomach and heard them rattling around. He normally brings a few home, but I had no idea he had eaten so many.

“It is normally around the ninth and twelfth fairways that we go around – and he just goes and searches for them wherever the golfers lose them.

“The vet hadn’t seen anything like it – it was bizarre. I thought he might have had a couple in there, but not 13. He is a black lab so he is a fair size – but to swallow 13 is quite amazing.’

Or not.  A quick google search turned up a surprising number of news stories about dogs swallowing golfballs.  From BBC-UK a dog that swallowed a golfball in midflight; OnlineAthens with a story about a dog that swallowed 17 golfballs; and the big ‘winner’ from BBC-UK a dog that swallowed 28  golfballs.


Entry filed under: behavior science, dogs. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. SmartyGeek  |  October 18, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Hi … Nice Blog
    😉 i’m writting about Dogs in my blog 😉
    i Happy to see u … in my blog

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