Entries in Dogs (39)


WATCH: Dognition Test Helps You Better Connect with Man's Best Friend

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- We all think that our dogs are the smartest ones in the park. But how can you really tell?

ABC News' David Kerley decided to test his 10-year-old French spaniel Belle. Although he thinks she’s special, there is now a way to find out whether she is an Einsten, a maverick, a charmer or a socialite.

Brian Hare says these different labels can tell you a lot about your dog. Hare is an associate professor at Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and the dog whisperer behind Dognition, an online test that tells you about the brain behind the bark.  It’s run by a start-up company in North Carolina.

“It’s to help people understand their dog in a way that they have never been able to understand them and to enrich their relationship with them as a result,” Hare said.

The people at Dognition have designed a way for you to find out what makes your dog’s brain tick.

“It’s not going to show you, ‘OK, your dog is X percentile compared to other dogs,’ because essentially what we know from the best science on animals [is] that there isn’t just one type of intelligence that you can just rank,” Hare said.

The experts say, however, that there are several types of dog intelligence. The question is what type does your dog rely on more.

Kerley ran Belle through the $40 online test, which included a questionnaire, a set of science-based games to play at home and an in-depth report detailing your dog’s cognitive profile.

The games took at least an hour and included hiding treats under cups, covering the dog’s eyes and even turning your back. How will she react? Does she follow verbal directions or her nose?

The games tested Belle's memory, her reasoning, her cunning and her communication. Kerley entered Belle’s results and send them back to Dognition.

Hare looked at her results. Belle could fall into one of nine categories: ace, expert, Einstein, charmer, renaissance dog, maverick, socialite, protodog or stargazer. Dognition says it uses a series of algorithms to compare dogs from all over the world.

“So Belle is a really interesting case. Belle ended up having the profile of a charmer. And a charmer is a dog that is really socially very sophisticated, and uses those skills to make their way through the world. A charmer is a dog that is really so bonded and trusts you so much that it would prefer to solve problems using information you give them than information they get with their own eyes,” Hare said during his assessment.

A 15-page report online from Dognition confirmed Hare’s assessment.

“It means charmers relative to other dogs are amazing at solving social problems using you [the owner],” Hare said. “You are really their secret weapon.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Dogs Put Smiles on Faces of Sandy Hook School Students

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEWTOWN, Conn.) -- Some much-needed smiles were brought to the children of Newtown, Conn., by way of seven dogs especially trained to comfort survivors in the wake of a disaster.

Seeing the dogs led to some of the town’s children smiling for the first time since Friday’s murderous rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said Tim Hetzner of the Lutheran Church Charities.

The dogs, mostly golden retrievers, “bring some relief” to children, and put, “a smile on their face, kind of like a teddy bear, but a live one,” Hetzner told ABC News.

Hetzner, who has taken dogs to New York and New Jersey after superstorm Sandy hit in October and to Joplin, Mo., following a devastating  tornado, said the animals are “like a counselor” meting out "trusting unconditional love.”

Hetzner says his organization begins training dogs as puppies when they are about five and half weeks old. It takes a year to train the dogs, making them calm enough to work with the public in post-disaster situations.

Some of the dogs were stationed outside an interfaith memorial service on Sunday night, at which President Obama spoke, eulogizing the 20 children and seven adults killed in a massacre at the hands of 20-year-old Adam Lanza last Friday.

According to the Lutheran Church Charities website the seven dogs in Newtown are: Abbie, Chewie, Luther, Ruthie, Barnabas, Hannah, and Portage. Each of the dogs has its own Facebook page.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nose Cell Transplant Reverses Paralysis in Dogs

FogStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – Thanks to a team of researchers, the secret to reversing paralysis in dogs lies not under their noses, but rather, in them.

Scientists at the Welcome Trust-MRC Stem Cell Institute have concluded that by taking dogs with injured spinal cords and injecting them with cells from their noses, they were able to successfully improve their back leg usage when, at the beginning of the study, these dogs could not use their back legs to walk, and could not feel pain in their back legs.

Biologists were able to avoid the prospect of using stem cells by removing olfactory cells from the linings of the dogs’ noses, and grew them in a Petri dish. These olfactory cells are special because they can envelop cells from the central nervous system that are actually able to regenerate or self-repair, whereas other central nervous system cells are not able to do so.

“Our findings are extremely exciting because they show for the first time that transplanting these types of cell into a severely damaged cord can bring about significant improvement”, said Professor Robin Franklin, regeneration biologist and co-author of the study.

The team conducted the study by taking 34 dogs that were experiencing lower spinal cord injuries, and injected 23 of them with nose cells, giving the rest a placebo. Many of the dogs treated with nose cells showed improvement in coordination between their front and back legs, with a harness present.

While this nose cell treatment advances the path towards finding an effective treatment for human spinal cord injuries, there is still more work to be done. The study showed no improvement in the long nerve connection between the brain and the spinal cord, something necessary in humans for walking, hand and leg control, sexual function, bowel and bladder control, pain sensation, and temperature control.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yoga and Boot Camp Go to the Dogs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Early in the morning, while most humans and their pets are still in bed, a few brave souls start the day with boot camp. They are not just pounding the pavement with two legs, however, but with many more -- three or four to be exact.  

They are taking part in Thank Dog! Bootcamp, a training program for dogs and their owners that has expanded to locations nationwide.

“We have aggressive dogs.  We have overweight dogs.  We have little dogs.  We have dogs with three legs,” Jill Bowers, the program’s co-founder, told ABC News.

The program, now in cities from Boston to Chicago to Los Angeles, provides a one-of-a-kind fitness training program that allows dogs and their owners to work out alongside one another for an hour at a time.

“It’s sort of killing two birds with one stone,” Bowers said.  “No matter what, you need exercise.  A dog needs exercise and obedience training so they come every day.”

The idea for Thank Dog! Bootcamp was born in 2007 after Bowers began working out at Barry’s Bootcamp, a California-based workout program popular with celebrities like Kim Kardashian.  Bowers then had the idea to partner the company she already owned, Thank Dog! Training, Southern California’s leading dog obedience training company, with a Barry’s-like boot camp regime for owners and dogs alike.

“When people sign up for boot camp, they don’t leave because it becomes more of a lifestyle than anything,” Bowers said.

Bowers and her business partner at the time got the idea off the ground and, in 2009, Bowers partnered with Noelle Blessey, a personal trainer and boot camp instructor, to bring the boot camp portion of obedience training to life.

When instructors bark commands to, for example, run laps, both the pets and their owners sprint side-by-side.  When the human students work out with weights, perform jumping jacks and other exercises in one spot, their well-behaved pets quietly observe their owners, while leashed, by their sides.

After a tough boot camp session, when dogs and their owners want to unwind, they can turn to dog yoga classes, another trend in the exercise-with-your pet phenomenon.

Like doggie boot camps, doggie yoga classes, also known as Doga, have now popped up across the country.

The Bidawee Animal Shelter in New York City offers Doga events for “pet parents interested in trying this new fitness routine and helping their dogs maintain or achieve a healthy weight,” according to its website.

“It makes so much sense to do yoga with your dog since dogs already routinely practice yoga,” a Doga instructor at Bidawee told ABC News.  “[Dogs] are very much of the moment, they live in the moment.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dog Tumors May Give Clues for Humans with Breast Cancer

Courtesy 2 Million Dogs(NEW YORK) -- Luke Robinson never liked dogs much until an ex-girlfriend offered him a puppy while he was living in San Antonio.  The Great Pyrenees he named Malcolm changed all that.

"It was the first dog of my adult life," said Robinson, 41.  "He was my companion, my mate."

But at the age of 6, Malcolm was diagnosed with bone cancer -- which both devastated and mobilized Robinson.

When a veterinarian from a major university couldn't tell Robinson why Malcolm got cancer at such a young age, he went on a national crusade to "find out why."

Robinson walked 2,300 miles over two years to raise awareness, founding in the process Two Million Dogs, an organization that is a pioneer in the field of comparative research -- finding common links between animals and humans who have cancer.

Today, a $50,000 grant from the organization is funding such research at Princeton University to learn how breast cancer tumors progress from seemingly benign to malignant ones.

"We are using a new model -- no one looked at progression this way," said Olga Troyanskaya, the computational biologist who is leading the genetic research.  "It's something that is really out there and forward-thinking."

Troyanskaya is collaborating with Karen Sorenmo, an oncologist at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, who has a special interest in mammary tumors.

The pair met when Troyanskaya's German shepherd Jessie was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2006, and she sought help from Sorenmo.

Sorenmo provided the Princeton project with tumors from shelter dogs that get free treatment.

Dogs have multiple mammary glands and when they develop cancer -- unlike humans -- they can have multiple tumors.

"The screening is not as good, but when found, on average they have seven masses at different stages of development," said Troyanskaya.  "Some are benign ... but they are not truly benign."

Troyanskaya compares dog and human tumors on a molecular level and hopes to find genetic markers that can give clues to how human breast cancer tumors progress and which ones are more likely to become malignant.

"We are looking at progression in a unique model," she said.  "Way more research has been done in mice ... Dogs get these tumors naturally and the physiology is more similar, the way tumors rise is similar, with the hormonal link to breast cancer in women."

Troyanskaya said she hopes to find targets for drug treatment or predict clinical outcomes in women with breast cancer and help speed up human trials.

"We can help dogs and humans," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Max the Dog Survives Sandy's Wrath and Death of Owner

Jessie Streich-Kest was walking her dog when a tree fell and killed Jessie on Oct. 29, 2012. (Courtesy NYCCommunities)(NEW YORK) -- Max, a friendly pit-bull-pointer-shepherd mix, was saved by a good Samaritan Tuesday, after he was found trapped under a fallen tree with the bodies of his owner Jessie Streich-Kest, and her friend Jacob Vogelman.

Max, a shoo-in for the Target dog with a brown patch over his eye, was taken to Verg South, an emergency veterinary hospital in Brooklyn, where he is expected to recover from head injuries, a broken jaw and some lacerations to the mouth.

For him, it was a second rescue -- he was a shelter dog. And now, Verg South will take care of him pro-bono until he can go home to live with his owner's family.

"It's just a testament to Max's spirit that he pulled through this tragedy," said veterinarian Brett Levitzke, who is treating the dog.

"It's also a testament to his owner that she went to a local shelter and saved putting him to sleep," he said. "That's why the whole story is really heartbreaking, but hopefully it will have a happy ending for Max."

He, like hundreds of pets up and down the East Coast, were separated from their owners or killed as hurricane-force winds and flooding took down everything in their path.

NYCVert, which since 9/11 has worked with the city's Office of Emergency Management to develop disaster planning for pets, estimated about 100 animals pets have been rescued and taken to shelters in New York City during superstorm Sandy.

"And that's not counting those that ended up in hospitals or were stranded," said Levitzke, 41.

The hospital, with generators, has been operational 24/7 since the storm. One dog had salt water toxicity from being stuck in flood waters, causing his brain to swell. Others have suffered from stress that causes vomiting.

"It runs the gamut," he said of the injuries. The hospital also takes in abandoned pets.

Max was found alive Tuesday when a neighbor went outside in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn to take pictures of the fallen tree.

"He was mentally very dull because of head trauma," said Levitzke. The dog will likely need jaw surgery after his head injuries subside.

He described Max as a large "Brooklyn garden variety mutt," with a "sweet face and a sweet disposition."

Max had been adopted by Streich-Kest, a special education teacher at the Buschwick High School for Social Justice, from the ASPCA. She was an activist who championed the homeless and even the carriage horses in Central Park.

"Jessie was a wonderful, amazing human being and they were a perfect match, so I am happy he is surviving," Barbara Gross, a friend of the family, said of Max. "They were inseparable."

Her parents, Jon Kest and Fran Streich, both community organizers, were devasted by their daughter's death and plan to keep the dog, according to Gross, 54.

Streich-Kest got Max from the ASPCA when she moved into her first apartment about two years ago, according to Gross.

"He was a real comfort and anchor for her," she said. "Everyone said the dog thought he was human."

At Verg South, Max has been "definitely critical for the past few days, but over the past 24 hours, he has taken quite a turn for the better in terms of his neurological status," said Levitzke.

As of Friday, Max was out of his cage and eating. "He's a ton better," he said. "The fact is, Max is a real trooper."

Levitzke said the city had done a "good job" of looking after pets, informing them how to make preparations for evacuations and even providing accommodation for family pets at evacuation shelters.

"For all those reasons, the numbers aren't going to be as staggering as Katrina," he said, where an estimated 600,000 animals were lost or perished.

For future weather emergency preparedness, Levitzke advises families to pack "go bags" for animals, with food, blankets, carriers and leashes, and most importantly ID for your pet and even a photo taken with you in case you are separated.

"Everyone is dealing with the aftereffects of Sandy," said Levitzke. "Max is welcome to stay with us as long as he needs. And while they get their feet on the ground. We will take care of his injuries."

"The family has lost everything," he said. "But pets are family and now they have one less thing to worry about."

For questions and to help reunite pets and their owners, call the city's Pet Hotline at (347) 573-1561.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bone Tired: Study Shows Yawning Dogs Empathizing with Owners

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LUND, Sweden) -- We’ve all heard that a dog’s bark can be worse than its bite, but what about its yawn?

It turns out that aspect of canine behavior may provide evidence that dogs really are man’s best friend. A study out of Lund University in Sweden found that our canine companions often yawn in reaction to seeing a human do the same thing.

The phenomenon, known as contagious yawning, is prominent among many groups of animals, humans included. However, the process, which is believed to indicate empathy and help contribute to group mentality and social structure, has been less studied between species.

Elainie Madsen, a doctor of psychology at Lund University who co-authored the study, told ABC News dogs were chosen because “they spend so much time with us, and we spend so much time with them.”

“For those of us who have dogs,” she said, “we often feel this very close connection with them, and we feel that they must understand or sympathize with our emotions and our emotional states.”

The study took 35 dogs between the ages of 4 and 14 months and exposed them to various yawning human beings. Madsen found the results fascinating.

“We showed that the dogs were yawning contagiously – not just yawning but they also took on the emotion that yawning usually signifies, which is usually sleepiness and tiredness,” she said.

As with humans, age proved to be a significant factor in whether or not a dog exhibited contagious yawning.

“They go through what seems to be an empathy development that somehow mirrors humans’ empathy development, so it’s just obviously on a very different time scale,” Madsen said. “Human children don’t begin to yawn contagiously until they’re about 4 years old. Below that age, they seem pretty immune to others yawning at them. In dogs, this happens when they’re about 7 months old. Dogs below that age don’t seem to yawn, either.”

So what does this mean for dog owners?

According to Madsen, it’s a reason to rest assured that your dog really does love you as much as you love it.

“Dogs really have a close emotional connection with people,” she said, “with owners as well as with other people.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two-Legged Puppies Almost Unaffected by Disability

ABC(FRISCO, Texas) -- Moose and Maverick are typical rambunctious puppies. They like to play, bark and lick as much as the next dog. They’re thriving even though they both have only two legs.

The puppies were abandoned in March, just hours after they were born. The local rescue coordinator called Dr. Erin Shults, a veterinarian in Frisco, Texas who heads a non-profit animal welfare organization called Mazie’s Mission.

“I got the call that someone had dumped a mother and three babies. Two of them only had two legs,” Shults said. “I wasn’t really sure then that the two-legged dogs would survive or have a good quality of life, but I was willing to give it a shot.”

Shults took the pair of two-legged pups in as her personal pets and began training them to work as therapy dogs, going to shelters and assisted living centers to visit patients.

“They’ve done a lot of therapy and they’ve been just great with that,” Shults said. “They are such fantastic therapy dogs.”

So well that most people they visit don’t even realize Moose and Maverick only have two legs.

“When I take them to assisted living centers, people don’t even notice right away since they act so normal,” Shults said. “People don’t even realize. I mean, they’re both completely mobile and you can’t even tell when they’re sitting in someone’s lap.”

Moose and Maverick even walk like other dogs, as if they had all four legs.

“I always say it’s like they’re walking like a kangaroo or a T. rex,” Shults said. “They barely get off the ground.”

Shults had wondered how they would do.

“I was thinking I’d have to teach them to walk on their back legs, like humans. I thought they’d just slide on their stomachs if not. But I was wrong … way wrong,” Shults said. “They are very content moving that way so I’m not going to press them. I’m letting them walk how they want to.”

Shults says Moose and Maverick, like other dogs, have their own distinct personalities.

“Moose is very laid back. He’s very calm and just wants to hang out and sit on your lap,” she said. “While Maverick is very active. He’s mischievous and likes to get in trouble. They’re polar opposites.”

Shults is hoping that the pair can use their disability to inspire others.

“I’m trying to get them to be therapy dogs for amputees,” she said. “They’d be able to teach people. They have no idea they’re different from other dogs. Nothing gets them down.”


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Fights Infection From Dog Saliva

WSBTV(DECATUR, Ga.) -- At 32 years old, nursing student Hannah Rinehart is hooked to a ventilator, her body healing after an amputation of her hands and feet.

The Decatur, Ga., woman, who is also a three-time cancer survivor, is fighting a rare bacterial infection, called capnocytophaga, which is found in the saliva of dogs but rarely affects people, her father, Doug Johnson, said.

During a weekend of yard work, Rinehart contracted a high fever, but held out seeking medical attention until her appointment that Monday, July 2, with her oncologist.

The married nursing student, who also has a business degree, changed careers after she successfully battled Hodgkin's lymphoma three times. The cancer first appeared when she was 18, Johnson said.

After the cancer re-appeared for the third time when she was she was in her mid-20s, Rinehart had a stem-cell transplant from her brother that has so far been successful, her father said.

Rinehart left the hospital seven years ago in July, hoping she'd only be back as a nurse.

But on July 2, on the recommendation of her oncologist, she was wheeled into Northside Hospital in Atlanta with a high fever. That evening, her father said, she went into septic shock.

"Her blood pressure was low and her kidneys and lungs were weakened," he said.

Doctors sent a sample of the bacteria attacking Rinehart's body to the Mayo Clinic, where it was identified as capnocytophaga, a common bacteria found in dog saliva that rarely harms the health of humans.

There's no way to directly tie the infection to Rinehart's 1-year-old puppy, her father said, but the family has its theories.

"Hannah would throw the ball for the dog and it would mouth her hand and forearm and she'd get scratches," Johnson said. "What we suppose is the fact she has had two bone-marrow transplants, her immune system is probably not that strong as a regular adult."

The infection continued to cut off circulation to Rinehart's extremities, leaving her parents and husband Mark a difficult decision to make.

"To not respond to the situation as it stands now would not be a display of faith, but rather a crude act of negligence," Mark Rinehart wrote on his wife's Facebook page before the surgery.

On July 26, doctors amputated Hannah Rinehart's hands and feet. "It was very obvious it needed to be done at that point," her father said. "We had been praying and just watching it get worse."

Rinehart has been sedated since the surgery, but has continued to make improvements.

Her 103.7-degree fever went down to 98.6 degrees Tuesday night, Mark Rinehart said.

And despite having another health obstacle thrown in her path, Rinehart and her family, who are devout Christians, are confident she'll be able to live a normal life.

"She is very strong. I don't even really remember her complaining about [the cancer] at all," her father said.

"We get the news and then you'd find out what to do and she kind of plugged away and kept going. After this, she'll be able to carry on and have a great life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dogs, Cats May Help Kids Avoid Respiratory Illnesses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Having dogs or cats during infancy may actually protect children from respiratory illnesses during the first year of life, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests.

Finnish researchers followed 397 children from the time their mothers were pregnant through age 1.  They found that those who were exposed to dogs at home had fewer respiratory illnesses or symptoms compared with children who didn't have dogs.  Children with dogs also had less-frequent ear infections and needed antibiotics less often than children never exposed to dogs.

Cats offered similar protective benefits, but to a lesser degree.

The findings, wrote the authors, suggest that early contact with dogs or cats may ramp up infants' immune systems.

"We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections," they wrote.

The amount of time a dog spends inside the home also has an impact on children's respiratory health.  Children who live in houses where dogs are inside less than six hours a day are at lowest risk for respiratory problems.  The authors believe it could be because dogs that are inside track less dirt.  More exposure to dirt leads to more exposure to different types of bacteria, which can help strengthen the immune system.

Other studies also suggest that pets can lower children's risk of certain illnesses.  Research out of the University of California, San Francisco published in June found that dust in homes where there are dogs may protect children against respiratory syncytial virus, a common cause of potentially severe cold-like illnesses.

But the Finnish study didn't include parents with allergies to dogs or cats.  Parents with these allergies are more likely to have children with the same allergies, and having pets around very young children who are allergic may be unsafe.

"If an infant has an allergic predisposition, their reaction will be more pronounced than an older child's," said Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital, meaning that if an allergic infant is exposed to a dog or cat, it can potentially be dangerous.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio