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Does your dog see Ghosts? I think My Aspen did…

IMG_2178No Dog About It Blog: I was listening to a local radio station the other morning when the radio host shared a freaky story with all his listeners. It reminded me of my late dog Aspen.

The radio host shared that he had been at home napping with his dog when the dog moved and then sat up and stared at the closet and started to growl. He stayed focused on the closet (and growling) and got up and ran towards the closet. Then suddenly, just before he reached the closet, he came to a dead stop, looked up at the ceiling and then turned around and looked just above the radio host’s head, and growled. The radio host could not get his attention by calling his name and eventually went and got him and brought him back to the bed with him. Of course, he was totally freaked out (as was I!). What the heck did his dog see? Was his house haunted?

When Aspen was alive, she used to do something similar. We would be sitting on the couch watching TV when she would suddenly turn her head towards the entry area near my front door and stare. Sometimes she would even sit up and stare at the upper corner by the front door. I often couldn’t distract her from it either.

There is something freaky about a dog seeing something you cannot see. I cannot tell you how much that used to freak me out. I now think it may have been the front screen door moving in the wind, but it definitely was something that used to set me on edge.

Now that Maggie is here and she too looks all over as if something is moving along the ceilings, I am reminded of Aspen and that familiar tingle along the back of my neck.

Has your dog ever done something like this before? Does your dog act as if someone is not there?
I would love to hear your stories.  Check some of the comments and stories HERE

April 15, 2014 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pets, Unusual Stories | Leave a comment

Voiceless Friends… Stop the Dog Meat Trade

Stop Dog Meat Trade

Voiceless Friends: Animal Equality and Last Chance for Animals have undertaken an intensive investigation into slaughterhouses and the dog meat markets in the Leizhou peninsula and the rest of the province of Guangdong in China.

Dogs raised for the meat markets are often taken from the street or stolen from families. These animals are kept almost their entire lives confined in wire cages where they suffer terribly both physically and psychologically. Whilst in the cramped cages, they are scared. They suffer from hunger, extreme temperatures, and a lack of food and water.

Their deaths are horrific: various blows to the head leave the animals in a semi-conscious state before being stabbed to death. The dogs are bled out and die after agonising minutes whilst struggling in a desperate bid to stay alive.

Both organisations have joined forces in a campaign to end the consumption of dog meat and its production in China.  Just like you, millions of people, in China and beyond, believe that cat and dog slaughter for human consumption is absolutely unacceptable.  This is why we are urging the Chinese government to prohibit this cruel trade immediately.

Help us stop the massacre!

By signing our petition you are letting the Chinese Government know that you are against the consumption of dog and cat meat, aswell as the use of their fur.  It is vital to add your signature to the thousands of people who have already joined this campaign to ensure that this practice becomes history, once and for all.

Cruelty and an abhorrent death

Dog meat is not only eaten in China, but also in other countries such as Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

In China, dog meat has been eaten for thousands of years and, in some parts of the country, it is considered a socially acceptable practice that is even promoted by the government. Dog meat is thought to have medicinal properties, and is popular in winter months as it is believed to warm the body. It is particularly popular in the northeast of the country, along the border of Korea, but it is also consumed in the southern regions of Guizhou, Guangdong and Guangxi.

It is estimated that over 18 million dogs are killed each year for their meat or fur in China. These animals spend practically their entire lives in cages, surrounded by dirt and feces. They consume a poor quality diet which causes the dogs to become weak and diseased. Some resort to cannibalism.

Most of the dogs in the meat trade industry within China have been caught from the streets, others have been bred on illegal farms or even kidnapped from loving homes.

After being transported to the slaughterhouse in cages where the dogs can barely move, an abhorrent death awaits them. Most of the dogs are clubbed ad beaten violently on the head with sticks, hung upside down, stabbed in the thorax region, bled out, or electrocuted. On many occasions, the animals do not die instantly, they lose consciousness only briefing, before being stabbed to death.

Legalities

Although it is illegal to eat dog meat in many countries around the world, law enforcement is weak and it continues being a popular dish even where it is prohibited.

Countries such as the Philippines or Taiwan have included animal welfare acts to ban the trading and eating of dog meat, but the law is not enforced.

Although China does not currently have in place legislation to protect animals, in 2010 a draft animal welfare legislation was proposed to prohibit the consumption of dog meat. Chinese animal protection groups however have predicted that this legislation will not be effective at curbing the trade. Some areas of China however, such as Hong Kong, have effectively introduced bans on dog meat consumption.

In South Korea, 2 million dogs are killed each year for their meat, and although the Korea Food & Drug Administration recognises all edible products as ‘food’, other than drugs, Seoul has passed a regulation classifying dog meat as a ‘repugnant food’. Once again, however, the regulation has so far been ineffective at stopping the demand for dog meat.

See the photos of the investigation! 

Related:

Dogs slaughtered for meat in Vietnam… Stop the Dog Meat Trade 

Dog Meat In Beijing Ordered Off Menu For Olympics 

Dog found hanging from meat hook 

Crews Killing Thousands of Dogs for Sochi Olympic Games

April 1, 2014 Posted by | animal abuse, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Stop Animal Cruelty, Toughen Animal Abuse Laws and Sentences, We Are All God's Creatures | Leave a comment

Todd Palin Excited to Bring Iditarod to TV

iditarod unleashed

Todd Palin Hosts Iditarod Unleashed

Palin-Cruz 2016: Iditarod Unleashed got Todd Palin to host: Sportsman Channel debuted its Iditarod Unleashed series on Tuesday March 25, 2014, getting a little help from none other than Iron Dog champ Todd Palin.  Todd, the husband of former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is hosting a one-hour special introducing the race to fans. The network, which is also set to begin a show with Sarah premiering in April, is using Todd to draw viewers in to its 12 hours of Iditarod coverage. Palin cites his connections with Iditarod mushers like Martin Buser and Rick Swenson as cred for hosting the show, as well as his experience as a champion snowmachine racer. The Sportsman coverage is set to begin Tuesday at 3 p.m. Alaska time Tuesday and airs throughout the rest of the week.

Breitbart.com:

Sarah Palin isn’t the only one in the family who will be in front of the camera on the Sportsman Channel. While the former Alaska governor gets set to host Amazing America with Sarah Palin next month, it’s her husband Todd who will be showcasing the beautiful state of Alaska first.

The Iditarod has not had a national television network partner since 2009. Until now, that is. In a groundbreaking agreement with Sportsman Channel, the event organizers will continue to produce the annual sled dog spectacle and provide extensive, in-depth coverage, video and updates through an online platform.

As the Official Network of The Iditarod, Sportsman Channel will exclusively showcase the stories of The Iditarod. In a multi-week stunt entitled Iditarod Unleashed, Sportsman Channel will air 12 hours of programming and specials – including the national television premiere of shows from The Iditarod library – timed around the 2014 event. That’s where Todd Palin comes in.  

Iditarod Unleashed programming begins March 25 at 7 p.m. ET/PT with a one-hour special hosted by Palin.

Palin is usually a behind-the-scenes guy. The supportive spouse. But he felt compelled to get the word out about the Iditarod. "I’ll do whatever I can to promote this great race," Palin told Breitbart Sports. "I know some of the mushers and I know how much work it is to take part in it."

While not a camera hog by any stretch of the imagination, Palin enjoyed filming the special programming. "I don’t like to watch myself on TV," said Palin. "But this was a lot of fun."

The Palin family is no stranger to the iconic Iditarod. "They used to have the restart in Wasilla before they moved it to Willow for the more consistent snow," Palin said. "We watched for many years with the kids on snowmachines. It’s a big event for all Alaskans."

While Palin is not a musher, he is a champion Iron Dog racer. His success in Alaska’s other big race gives him a special appreciation for those who take part in the Iditarod. "Both are the ultimate," Palin said. "In certain stretches, you can actually go faster than a snowmachine when mushing with a dog team. They’re so powerful, sometimes you’re just hanging on."

The Iditarod is more sophisticated than ever. Palin had a chance to visit sled dog champion Martin Buser’s facilities recently and he was blown away by the latest technology. "The use of carbon fiber has made these dog sleds better than ever," Palin said. "The sport has come so far. You think back to the old days and wonder how they did it."

There are personal connections to the Iditarod for Palin as well. Buser teamed up with Palin during the 2008 campaign to help stump for the McCain-Palin ticket. Rick Swenson "King of the Iditarod" ran pro class when Palin started Ion Dog racing in 1993. Meantime, DeeDee Jonrowe serves as an inspiration to all. She beat cancer and got back to mushing. Palin speaks glowingly of John Baker and all he has done for the sport.

"The people involved in this are just like the Iron Dog family," Palin said. "A tight knit group that will help anyone, anyway they can."  

Todd and Sarah Palin attended the Iditarod Mushers Banquet in Anchorage this year to show their support for the big race and all those who participate in it.

"I’m just thankful that Sportsman Channel was excited to show the Iditarod and to come up here to share these ultimate races with the rest of the nation," said Palin.

The conclusion of the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race was evidence that this event is like no other. Now, viewers across the country will have an opportunity to reconnect with the race on Sportsman Channel. Plus, viewers will be introduced to the special people who live the lifestyle of Iditarod musher.

Sportsman Channel will look back at Dallas Seavey’s record-breaking win, and showcase the incredible stories of this year’s historic race, along with stories from previous years.

Iditarod Unleashed will deliver dramatic stories of the dogs, mushers, volunteers, history, wildlife and rough terrain. The Iditarod is known as The Last Great Race on Earth. For Sportsman Channel viewers though the in-depth coverage of the race will be the first of it’s kind. "You don’t want to miss this," Palin said. "It’s just incredible."

Also, 2014 Akiak Dash winner: On Sunday evening, John George won the 2014 Akiak Dash, bringing home $3,400 as he pulled into Bethel with seven sled dogs. The Akiak Dash, one of the series of races held by the Kuskokwim 300 Race Committee, ran from the Southcentral community of Bethel to Akiak and back to Bethel. George finished with a time of 6 hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds. Coming in second was George Manutoli with a time of 6 hours, 45 minutes and 46 seconds. Herman Phillip took third with a time of 6 hours, 51 minutes and 24 seconds. Total purse for the race was $12,100, split between the top 10 finishers.

Related: 

Live: Iditarod (Sled Dog Race) 2014 from Anchorage Alaska is Underway 

The Iditarod on 12,000 calories a day 

Iron Dog: Palin Iron Dog Team heads back to Big Lake for repairs

Iditarod Trail Race Headquarters, Palin and Alaskan Tourism

Amazing America With Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin plans Rogue TV

Poll: Sarah Palin Has Highest Favorability Rating Among GOP Primary Voters

Todd Palin, Inside Edition ~> Wife could win POTUS hands down! 

Sarah Palin and Senator Mile Lee Take Time to Visit Service Dog Trainers While in Iowa

March 31, 2014 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Events | Leave a comment

Comfort Dogs Bring Hope to Mudslide Rescue Workers Amid the Rubble

What’s This?

Sumi-1

Sumi, a 6-year-old Akita, is a comfort dog; that spent time at the Oso Fire Department Thursday with rescue workers following last weekend’s deadly mudslide. Image: Kurt Wagner – Mashable

By Kurt Wagner/Mashable 

OSO, Wash. — The idea of dog as man’s best friend took on a whole new meaning in the small town of Oso this week.

Following a deadly mudslide that has left 17 dead with many more missing and presumed dead, authorities say search dogs have been the most valuable asset in finding victims amid the mud and rubble. But these search dogs on the front lines aren’t the only canines lending a paw to the local community. On Thursday, three "comfort dogs" spent hours inside the Oso Fire Department providing rescue workers and volunteers with a calming, lovable distraction.

Multiple comfort dogs, also known as "crisis therapy dogs," have been spending time with rescuers and emergency responders since the beginning of the week in the Oso area. Rescuers have been spending long hours in the mud, rain, and debris, sifting through the personal belongings of those lost in the mudslide and even locating and extracting the dead. It’s been overwhelming, particularly for locals who have friends or family still missing.

Organizations like the Green Cross Academy of Traumatology out of Hugo, Minn., and HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, an organization with regions covering 30 U.S. states, have traveled with dogs to provide a calming presence wherever they’re needed.

Levi, a 15-month-old, full blood Great Dane, spent Thursday morning walking around the Oso Fire Department where more than 80 citizen volunteers awaited an opportunity to head up to the slide zone. There are more volunteers than authorities can utilize, meaning some sit on standby for hours, if not days at a time.

Levi, who has been trained since he was six-months-old, was a hit with those waiting around as rescue volunteers petted him throughout the day, receiving dog kisses in exchange. His handler, Pam Selz of Green Cross, says that dogs like Levi often get people talking, at which point both the dog and its handler can provide further comfort.

Sumi, a 6-year-old Akita, was also on hand Thursday with her handler Sherrie Wright from HOPE, who began handling and training Sumi after retiring from the Spokane County Superior Court five years ago. Sumi spent many weeks training before taking and passing a three-day boot camp, consisting of vigorous eight-hour training days and culminating in certification as a crisis response animal, says Wright.

comfort dogs

Sumi (L) is walked around by Michael Wright of Hope. Earlier in the day, Levi, seen here with handler Pam Selz, visits with volunteer seacrh and rescue workers. Image: Kurt Wagner/Mashable

It’s not an easy process, she added, and most dogs aren’t cut out for the job. Handlers look for dogs that aren’t too lively or sensitive to unexpected noises, qualities that can’t really be taught. "They either have it or they don’t," she says.

HOPE has three dogs in the area, all of which were driven over from Spokane, a five-hour drive. Other dogs are on their way from California and Montana, says Michael Wright, Sherrie’s husband and a fellow HOPE volunteer. HOPE, a non-profit founded in Oregon in 2001, has provided canines to some of the country’s most highly visible crises in the past decade. HOPE dogs were present following the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the Colorado wildfires in the summer of 2013, and the naval yard shooting in Washington, D.C., last fall.

Handlers and dogs don’t visit the hospitals or the families of the deceased unless they are invited, says Michael. It’s one of the challenges of the job: understanding where to intervene and where to back off. "[The toughest part of the job] is to kinda be aware of your limitations and the dog’s limitations," says Sherrie.

For the next few days, these comfort dogs will be available where needed around the Oso community. Wright says the dogs can identify humans in need. "When people are stressed, [Sumi] can sense that and goes up to them."

With extensive national media attention, 90 people still missing, and the rains continuing to come down, that’s a small solace that only a dog can provide.

See also: In Oso, Search and Rescue Volunteers Play the Waiting Game

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Service and Military Animals, Working and Military Dogs and Related | Leave a comment

California man who drugged and raped dog has been sentenced to prison

Man who raped dog is sentenced to prison timeExaminer: According to Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, a 22-year-old San Pedro, Calif., man who sexually assaulted a family’s dog, has been sentenced to prison time.

On Tuesday, Christopher Caceres, who was charged for repeated sexual attacks on a neighbor’s pet Akita, pleaded guilty to charges of animal cruelty and first-degree burglary.

Caceres’ act of bestiality was captured on the homeowner’s surveillance camera. Video footage revealed that during one attack, the 80-pound Akita was sexually assaulted for an agonizing two-hour period of time.

In the video footage, Caceres could be seen feeding something to the dog before the rape commenced – it is presumed that he gave the dog some type of drug to relax her.

Caceres’ attacks on the dog are believed to have taken place on multiple occasions between August and November 2013.

Caceres has been sentenced to four years in prison for his crimes.

Prior story about this situation here.

Related: 

Teen has sex with girlfriend’s dog and takes video of the act

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Stop Animal Cruelty, Success Stories, Toughen Animal Abuse Laws and Sentences, We Are All God's Creatures | Leave a comment

Judge decides Mickey the pit bull will live, but there are restrictions

Saved Piti

Saved… Fairness

by The Associated Press and azfamily.com  -  See Video report by Erika Flores  -  Posted on March 25, 2014 at 1:36 PM  -  Updated today at 6:46 PM

PHOENIX — A judge has decided that a pit bull that mauled a 4-year-old boy last month in Phoenix should not be euthanized.

Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin ordered the dog, Micky, to be defanged, neutered and microchipped.

Griffin also ruled that the dog may not be adopted or fostered. Instead, it will need to be placed in a facility. She gave attorney John Schill five weeks to look for a facility that will meet her criteria.

John Schill with Schill Law represented Micky in court."I think we accomplished a goal,” said Schill. “We saved Micky. Micky is not going to be killed."

Griffin announced her ruling Tuesday afternoon after she declared earlier in the day that the dog was vicious.

She looked at pictures of young Kevin Vicente,taken after he was bit in the face by the dog Feb. 20. The attack left  Vicente with a broken eye socket and jaw.

The judge also heard testimony by Guadalupe Villa, the petitioner, who wanted Micky put down.

Thousands of animal lovers have taken to social media to support Micky, placing blame with the dog’s owners and child’s baby sitter. On Tuesday, supporters wore T-shirts to court that bore a paw print and said "Save Mickey."

A Facebook page called "Save Mickey" has more than 60,000 likes. And a petition to spare his life had 50,000 signatures.

But upporters say the campaign doesn’t mean they value the dog’s life above the child’s.

"This is not Kevin versus Mickey," says Schill. "Having Mickey killed is not going to take away Kevin’s pain or injuries. The only thing this is going to do is kill a poor, innocent dog."

Pit bulls are viewed by some as a dangerous breed, a reputation their fans dispute.

Meantime, thousands have also rallied around the 4-year-old victim. A Facebook page has been set up for Kevin Vicente. And a fund-raising page has been set up where people can donate to help out with his medical bills.

Schill has until April 29th to find a facility that follows the judge’s restrictions.

Editor’s note: Some documents spell the dog’s name Mickey while others have it as Micky.  See More Here.

March 26, 2014 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pets, Success Stories, We Are All God's Creatures | 1 Comment

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Pups…

St. Patrick parade

St Patrickls Day Pet Parade 2

St Patrickls Day Pet Parade e

St. Patrick's Day Pawdy 

Hope you all had a great pawdy…

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Events, Pets | Leave a comment

Dogs Lovin the Water

Can Your Dog Do This

Lovin the Beach

Diggin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By Marion Algier – UCLA Shutterbug – JOMP

March 15, 2014 Posted by | Animal and Pet Photos, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pets | 1 Comment

One dog changes the lives of two war veterans

Column_how-do-dogs-help-veterans

Justin Lansford, Gabe, Spenser Milo, and Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer. (Photo credit: ABC News/Good Morning America)

DogTime: Thursday March 13th, 2014  -  While veteran Justin Lansford of Silver Spring, Md., served as a paratrooper in Afghanistan, he was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost his leg as a result.

“We struck an IED and it flipped my truck completely,” Lansford tells ABC News. “I had bilaterally severed femurs which resulted in the amputation of my left leg.”

As Lansford recuperated at the Walter Reade National Military Medical Center, he got a visit from the Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), an organization that pairs wounded veterans with trained service dogs.

It was through WCC that Lansford first met Gabe, the 2-year-old Golden Retriever who has aided Lansford as his service dog for the past five months.

“He helps me with one thing to the next. I can use him as a stable surface to lean on, as I get to and from the ground,” Lansford says of Gabe. “If I fall, he’ll come up running next to me and I can use him to push off of the get up off the ground.”

Gabe has provided both guidance and friendship as Lansford becomes more mobile.

“The less I use my wheelchair, the more I need his help in smaller tasks and the more he is there,” Lansford tells ABC News of Gabe. “It has been very comforting to know that.”

It seems that Gabe was always destined to work with wounded warriors. Before he began his life with Justin Lansford, Gabe was helping U.S. Army veteran and Colorado Springs, Colo., resident Spencer Milo, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“I was on a dismount patrol on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. I see a kid, you know 15-years-old, a suicide bomber. You knew what it was,” Milo recalls. “I just remember a big, loud noise, a big flash. And I remember landing.”

Milo survived the blast, but wasn’t left unscathed. He says he could hardly get through his normal daily activities sometimes.

“It was really hard to go back into public without being so on edge that it made others uncomfortable. I’d sweat profusely and I’d be incredibly grumpy,” says Milo.

Milo’s doctors suggested he work with the Warrior Canine Connection to help train and socialize one of their new puppies — Gabe. The experience with Gabe changed the trajectory of Milo’s life.

“And once I started working with Gabe, I started feeling like myself again,” Milo explains. “My family, my wife started seeing me again, and that’s incredible. You can’t put that into words.”

After Gabe’s training period with Milo, Milo had to say goodbye and hadn’t seen Gabe since. But recently, Milo traveled all the way to Silver Spring for a happy reunion, and to meet the veteran who is benefitting from all of Milo’s hard work — Justin Lansford.

“I owe everything to Gabe,” says Milo. “I would jump in front of a bus for Gabe, and I know he would do the same for me. And I know he’d do the same for Justin.”

Lansford says he was equally excited to meet the man who helped make Gabe such a great service dog and friend.

“I have really had a chance to say thank you to Spencer for working with Gabe and getting Gabe to a point where he could work and help me. Being able to see Spencer face to face has been awesome,” says Lansford.

WCC is hoping to make experiences like the one with Lansford, Milo, and Gabe a regular part of caring for our nation’s veterans. The organization is using the latest science and research to prove that working with dogs helps veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. For more information on WCC, their amazing work, or their dogs, check out the Warrior Canine Connection website.

Sources: ABC News, Warrior Canine Connection Facebook

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, NO KILL NATION, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, Success Stories, Working and Military Dogs and Related | 2 Comments

Every Dog Has Its Data

By NICK WINGFIELD  -  The New York Times:  A half-century ago, dogs lived in barns or backyards, domiciled in shabby little doghouses. Now they have the run of our houses and apartments. They sleep in our beds (full disclosure). In some cases, they are considered by their owners to be like children, and possibly a bit cleaner.

So it is not so strange that the connected technologies that are creeping into the lives of humans are doing the same for pets.

Wearable pet activity trackers keep tabs on Bella’s or Bear’s exercise. Some go further, monitoring dogs’ heart and respiratory rates and tracking locations in case they escape their homes. Webcams allow people who are away from home to monitor, communicate and play games with their pets, breaking up the monotony of lonely days.

What’s making all these devices possible is an abundance of increasingly inexpensive miniature components created for the smartphone business: wireless chips, motion sensors and high-resolution camera lenses that can be jammed into pet-friendly devices. Smartphone apps, meanwhile, are giving people a way to visualize the biometric data these devices collect and to snoop on pet behavior from anywhere with a wireless connection.

These device manufacturers are chasing the growing pile of money people are lavishing on animals. Total annual spending on pets in this country, including food, veterinary care and medicine, more than tripled over the past two decades to $55.5 billion last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.

The tighter bond between household animals and the people formerly known as owners has established pet wellness as a serious business, and tech firms are taking note.

“It is the idea of being able to interact with your pet in a more meaningful way,” said Con Slobodchikoff, an emeritus professor of biology at Northern Arizona University. “Right now, pretty much all people have is voice to interact with their pets or touch. People want more.”

Heidi Hurn recently clipped one of these gadgets, the Whistle Activity Monitor, to the collar of Hoosier, her 11-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever. This $130 brushed metal device, about the dimensions of a ketchup bottle cap, records when he is active, for how long and at what intensity level.  It is the canine equivalent of the Jawbone UP, a fitness tracker that Ms. Hurn bought for her fiancé.

Through an app on her iPhone, Ms. Hurn, 32, who works in medical device sales in Seattle, can see a bar chart showing how hard and for how long her dog walker is exercising Hoosier. She can see how active he is when she and her fiancé are not at home. (Revealed: Hoosier is sacked out from five minutes after they leave until the moment they get home.)

Ms. Hurn said she and her fiancé got the device because Hoosier’s veterinarian emphasized that keeping him active is likely to extend his life. She said the detailed logs of his exercise make the couple feel more responsible.

“We are very attentive parents,” she said. “He’s our only child.”

Mitzi takes the Whistle Activity Monitor out for a spin.

Nick Wingfield/The New York Times Mitzi takes the Whistle Activity Monitor out for a spin.

I, too, recently put a Whistle on the collar of Mitzi, my 5-year-old pit bull/Labrador retriever mix. After a few days, I was able to compare her activity level to other mixed-breed dogs. I felt small glow of pride when the Whistle app sent me a congratulatory text after Mitzi surpassed her daily exercise goal four days in a row.

More wearable tech for pets is on the way.  Already on sale is a collar device called Tagg that combines activity monitoring with location tracking to help recover lost pets. Voyce, an activity tracker available later this year, also monitors a dog’s heart and respiratory rates.

“We really see ourselves as the wellness coach for the life of the dog,” said Jeff Noce, president of i4C Innovations, the maker of Voyce.

It’s possible the data from these devices could eventually help medical researchers better understand pet ailments. According to a 2012 study commissioned by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 52 percent of dogs and more than 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese, conditions which can lead to diabetes and worsen arthritis.

A 14-year study commissioned by Purina, the pet food company, found that a dog’s median life span can be extended by 15 percent by restricting the diet to maintain ideal weight, or almost two years for the Labrador retrievers in the survey. Veterinarians have used expensive motion sensors for years to study pet activity levels, but they say the new devices aimed at pet owners have the potential to be used far more broadly.

“I’m very excited about the activity monitors,” said Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

Mitzi's walks, naps and playtime are logged on Whistle's app.

Nick Wingfield/The New York Times Mitzi’s walks, naps and playtime are logged on Whistle’s app.

The solitude of pets is another concern that technology is tackling. Many animals spend hours alone at home while their owners are at the office. Separation anxiety, lack of exercise and other factors can lead to destructive tendencies.

Dropcam is a wireless security camera that can also be used as a pet monitor. It has a microphone and speaker so people can both speak to and hear their pets via a mobile app.  I used a Dropcam to spy on Mitzi, who had positioned herself on a couch in my living room while I was out of the house.

Through the speaker, I ordered her down. She cocked her head like the RCA dog and stared at the camera — and didn’t move. I’m hoping for an update of the product that includes pet obedience.

A device called PetCube(s), coming out in May, combines a webcam, microphone and speakers with a low-intensity laser pointer, the direction of which can be controlled remotely through a smartphone. Owners will be able to play games with their cats and dogs using the laser, assuming the animals are receptive to the idea of chasing a bright red light around a room.

People will be able to invite Facebook friends to play with their pets, too, by sharing access to their PetCubes.

While cats seem to pursue lasers without problems, Dr. Margaret Gruen, a veterinary behaviorist at North Carolina State University, said using a laser pointer with dogs could lead them to become shadow and light chasers, a compulsive behavior. Dr. Gruen said it was unclear what effect owners talking to their pets through a webcam could have.

“When they can’t see them, will that be confusing or comforting?” she said. “I don’t think we know yet.”

There are effective medications and behavior changes for treating separation anxiety in pets, and playing classical music while an owner is gone can relax dogs, too, Dr. Gruen said. While it isn’t clear yet whether these new technologies actually improve the lives of pets, they are certainly likely to answer the emotional needs of many pet parents. Remember the Baby Einstein DVDs, said to enhance the intellectual development of infants?

“There’s this industry that springs up around selling highly specialized products that will allow you to feel like you’re doing a better job of parenting,” said Aaron Easterly, the chief executive of the dog-sitting website Rover.com. “It’s really the exact same pitch for these products.”

March 10, 2014 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, pet products, Pets | 1 Comment

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