Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cat falls 26 stories and lives

A cat named "Lucky" fell 26 stories from a New York apartment and lived to purr another day. How lucky was that?! Read more

Twitter saves dog's life

Through the power of the Twitter network, donations have been raised to help an injured Pit Bull Terrier. More here

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pets cause

Somany ways that our pets embarrass us. Meet ten top embarrasing pets here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Australian national control strategy for wild dogs

Australia’s grazing industry now has a united front in its fight against predators, with the National Wild Dog Management Advisory Group announcing this week it will replace the previous state-by-state approach with a national control strategy. Read more

Serbian child raised by cats and dogs

Click on the link to read more.

Dr Jo says "Dogs and cats are great. On humans, I shall reserve my judgement."


Monday, May 25, 2009

Are Cocker Spaniels the meanest dog in the world?

A Spanish study has found that found English cocker spaniels tend to be more hostile than other breeds of dogs. The discovery adds to the mounting evidence that aggressiveness is an inherited characteristic, suggesting that genes and breeding practices can both help determine how a dog will behave.
1040 cases of canine aggression were analysed and the majority were attributed to English cocker spaniels, Rottweilers, Boxers, Yorkshire terriers and German shepherds. English cocker spaniels were more likely than other dogs to act aggressively toward their owners as well as unfamiliar people.
Among the English cocker spaniels, golden varieties and males were found to be the most hostile. The coat pigment melanin shares a common biochemical pathway with dopamine and other brain chemicals involved in the control of aggressive behaviour.
Poor owner handling also seems to be a factor.

Dr Jo says "I'm sure Cocker Spaniel owners and breeders might have something to say about this."

Original abstract

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tasmanian Devils endangered

Tasmanian Devils To Be Listed as 'Endangered' as their numbers have been dwindling fast as a result of a nasty infectious cancer that spreads among these marsupial mammals.
Now, the Australian government (the island of Tasmania, where the devils live, is part of Australia) has decided to list Tasmanian devils as endangered. Previously they were just listed as vulnerable.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Wallabies at risk from feral predators

The future of the beautiful but threatened black-flanked rock wallaby remains uncertain as foxes and feral cats continue to wreak havoc on remaining wallaby populations, WWF-Australia has warned on International Day for Biological Diversity.

WWF lending a helping hand (or paw). More here
The term “dominance” is widely used in the academic and popular literature on the behaviour of domestic dogs, especially in the context of aggression. In reality there is no such thing as a "dominant dog". Your dog is not plotting to dominate you, although in certain encounters it may come off as the victor.

In a study (Bradshaw, Blackwell & Casey, 2009) of a freely interacting group of neutered male domestic dogs, pairwise relationships were evident, but no overall hierarchy could be detected. The authors propose that associative learning, combined with subjective resource value (V), can provide more parsimonious explanations for agonistic behavior in dogs than can the traditional concept of dominance.

Read the abstract.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Top ten child friendly breeds of dogs

People are always asking me which breed of dogs they should get for their family. It is difficult to recommend one particular breeds when people have all sorts of size and hair preferences and lifestyle requirements.
Here's a link to someone else's recommendations. See what you think. Top ten child friendly dogs.

Want to buy a Dylan dog poem?

If you have a spare A$20,000 then you might consider purchasing at auction apoemwritten by the great Bob Dylan, when he was 16, about a dog. You can read it here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Animal hoarding

Recent reports (SMH 18May09) have suggested that animal hoarding may be out of control. It is a problem not onlyfor societybut alsofor the families and friends of the individuals involved. But when does having lots of animals becoming 'hoarding'?
Animal hoarding may be identified as having:
· More than the typical number of companion animals and holding on to all of them (not adopting out)
· Inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness, and death
· Denial of the inability to provide minimum care and the impact on the animals, the household, and human occupants

Hoarding is actually a behavioural disorder,linked to obsessive compulsive disorder and needs psychological help. There are also considerable health risks with hoarding animals both for the animals and the people involved. If you suspect you or someone you know may be a hoarder, you can read more here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My wine tasts of cat pee - call an animal behaviourist!

I love cats and I love wine. I am aware that the no. 1 behaviour problem with cats is their peeing habits (I even wrote a book about it). Never did I think, however, that cat pee and wine could be used in the same sentence. Except perhaps when cleaning up yet another feline litter box 'accident' led to a post-cleansing glass of vino to calm the soul.

I love a good New Zealand sauvignon blanc. I was pleased to hear that $12 million was being invested to define the flavours of this wine. Not that I'm pretentious about describing the aromas and flavours of wine. I just know what I like and don't like!

The conclusions of the study: The flavour was a winning combination of sweet, sweaty passionfruit, asparagus and... cat's pee.

Apparently wine connoisseurs routinely describe wine using terms such as cat's pee and now the market place is also catching on. Cooper's Creek winery calls its sauvignon blanc 'Cat's Pee on a Gooseberry Bush'. A wine region called Wairarapa, near the capital of Wellington is the top spot for cat's pee influences in the white wine.

Will this stop me from drinking my favourite refreshment? No, I verymuch doubt it. Obviously I'm lagging behind and need to update my wine vocabulary (but won't I just sound like an animal behaviourist?)! I can just imagine this taking off in my world...

"Oh this camembert is infused with smidgeons of rabbit droppings."
"My how those wet dog aromas have crept into this fondue."

Perhaps Dr Jo and the wine industry should do some cross promotion. A complimentary copy of Dr Jo's 'Cat Toileting Problems Solved' booklet with every bottle of Sauv Blanc! In return I'll recommend my clients with inappropriate elimination issues indulge their palates with a bottle of Kiwi wine with the subtle flavour of cat's pee!

Pet Problems Solved website
Dr Jo on Twitter

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do dogs have a soul

Are humans the only animals with morals?
Animal behaviourist Marc Bekoff thinks not. Dogs are full of natural goodness.
While we used to think that animals did not feel emotions, we now believe they have a rich emotional life. Dogs can laugh. They solve problems.
One thing is sure - there is much more to find out about dogs.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gorillas are not dummies

Gorillas were thought to lag behind chimps in the intelligence ranks. New research shows otherwise.
Nationa Geographic

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Victoria's first seizure dog

Four-legged guardian angel, Addy the labrador is Victoria's first seizure response dog and barks to alert Tara's parents when the three-year-old has one of up to 80 epileptic seizures a day.
Addy, 2, is also trained to find Tara, who has autism, if she is lost and to stop disruptive behaviour.
Theories suggest dogs may detect seizures through changes in brain electrical activity, subtle behavioural changes or picking up a scent humans cannot detect.

Ocean surfing Kangaroo saved

A Gold Coast father, walking his son, early in the morning has saved a kangaroo from drowning. Why was a kangaroo swimming in the ocean? No one knows but it bounded into the ocean where sharks had been sighted several days before. The rescuer managed to get the kangaroo on his surfboard and bring him to shore and to safety.

Dr Jo comments...
  • How far will people go to save an animal? Especially one that is not their pet? Read this article to see why people do it
  • How lucky that a video camera just happened to be nearby to capture the moment.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Equitation science

Horses are often trained by the use of force, to which many horses respond by unwelcome evasions, resistances and flight responses. Time may be changing... as new research shows.

When unable to cope with problem equine behaviours, some handlers in the past might have used harsh methods or devices while others may have called in a ‘horse whisperer’ to remediate the horse. Often, however,the owner was unable to apply the techniue used by the "expert". And the expert did little to 'reveal' his techniques to the wider world.

Recent studies have begun to reveal humane and effective horse training methods,together with greater sharing of knowledge among practitioners. Reputable horse trainers using natural horsemanship approaches are talented observers of horse behaviour and respond consistently and swiftly to the horse’s subtle cues during training.

Learning theory and equine ethology, the fundamentals of the emerging discipline of equitation science, can be used to explain almost all the behaviour modification that goes on in these contexts and in conventional horsemanship. By measuring and evaluating what works and what does not, equitation science has the potential to have a unifying effect on traditional practices and developing branches of equitation.

Authors: Deborah Goodwin, Paul McGreevy, Natalie Waran and Andrew McLean

More reading here
Book - Equine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians and Equine Scientists by Dr Paul McGreevy

In human news-immunity,odour and your perfect match

Technology is always developing and the latest will match couples based on the genetic components of the human immune system -- and their odour.
Studies have linked odour to immune systems and shown that people are most likely to be attracted to the smells of those who have different histocompatibility genes than their own. Those who have similar immune systems tend to not be attracted to each others' odours.

Clients order a test online and receive it two days later. Then they simply swab their cheeks and put the sample into a machine. Software then matches them to someone with a completely different immune system.
More here

Monday, May 11, 2009

Spiders are like zombies

Just what we wanted to know-spiders are like zombies and ocme back to life - after being drowned! More here.

Nothing funny about laughing hyenas

A Hyena's giggle is not actually laughter, but a sound of frustration. New research found a way to distinguish individual hyenas based on the peculiarities of their sounds.
Researchers recorded the sounds and did an acoustic analysis of them to understand how the calls vary between individuals, and when they are used.
The scientists found that hyenas usually made these noises when they were fighting for food or in some kind of social conflict.
Watch here
The biologists found that they could tell many individuals apart from their giggles alone, which often have peculiarities of pitch and volume related to their age and social standing in the group.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Here's some great video footage of animals. Thanks Purina Animal All Stars.

And could these be the worst mothers?!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Could your dog go to school with the children?

Classroom Canines™ is a program designed to assist children improve their literacy, our volunteer and his/her Delta accredited dog visit a school setting on an informal but regular basis, sufficient to establish an ongoing relationship with the students and staff. Volunteer teams will work for one term in each school targeting those students as identified by the reading recovery teacher assigned to those schools.

In the school situation the Delta Pet Partner team works within the framework of the Student Welfare Policy – ‘the school values a culture of mutual respect, appreciation of individual differences and belief that each child has the right to learn and grow in a supportive environment among people who are caring and cooperative’.

Volunteers act under the direction of the school staff, in particular the reading recovery teacher assigned to each school. Primarily our volunteer teams will work with children either on a one to one or a group basis – as the children read aloud to the dog. Our volunteers may also be able to assist with informal chats, participating in group activities to help improve the self esteem, motivation, socialisation and communication of those children.
For more information visit Dr Jo's website and Delta Society Australia.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Jailed for turning house into zoo

A man in Manchester was jailed for 3 months when welfare officers found his bedrooms stacked floor to ceiling with tanks of lizards, frogs and other reptiles.
There were four boa constrictors, seven geckos, dogs, parrots, chickens, tortoises, a water dragon and a rat in a small plastic box-over 1000 pets in total!
Quite a menagerie!

When does lots of pets become too many pets? Hoarding

Fish feel pain

Joseph Garner, an assistant professor of animal sciences, helped develop a test that found goldfish do feel pain, and their reactions to it are much like that of humans.

Garner and Janicke Nordgreen, a doctoral student in the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, attached small foil heaters to the goldfish and slowly increased the temperature. The heaters were designed with sensors and safeguards that shut off the heaters to prevent any physical damage to a fish's tissue...

More here

Dr Jo says "Didn't we suspect this. I don't fish. I'm always kind to animals but this stillmakesme feel guilty!!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The elusive Scottish wildcat is captured

Imagine thinking you were setting a trap for a fox,who was eating your chickens, and instead you catch a cat. A very wild cat! Considered completely untameable, the Scottish wildcat is down to around 400 in numbers.
The Scottish wildcats association is raising money to help save these beautiful creatures.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bizarre sea creatures

Great pics of animals you may not want to see in the sea.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dog food -good enough to eat

Researchers gave 18 volunteers five food samples to try in a blind taste test -- and only three were able to identify the canine fodder. More here

Dr Jo says "Who would volunteer?!"

Friday, May 1, 2009


How much do you know about Australian megafauna? Try this quiz.

Birds got rhythm

Birds have got rhythm.

After studying a cockatoo that grooves to the Backstreet Boys and about 1,000 YouTube videos, scientists say they've documented for the first time that some animals "dance" to a musical beat.

The results support a theory for why the human brain is wired for dancing. In lab studies of two parrots and close review of the YouTube videos, scientists looked for signs that animals were actually feeling the beat of music they heard.

The verdict: Some parrots did, and maybe an occasional elephant. But researchers found no evidence of that for dogs and cats, despite long exposure to people and music, nor for chimps, our closest living relatives.

More here.