Thursday, June 25, 2015

Help Bring U.S. War Dogs Home

More than 2,000 dogs currently serve in the United States Military. These canines have and continue to work to detect bombs, drugs, weaponry and much more, saving the lives of between 150-200 servicemen and women in the course of their career.

Current law allows, but doesn’t require, the Department of Defense to pay for retired war dogs’ transportation back home. Once retired, the dogs are no longer considered part of the military and are often left behind. Handlers and veterans who wish to reunite with their dogs generally have to cover the costs of bringing them back to the United States.

Thanks to hard working individuals, these dogs are one step closer to being guaranteed treatment as the heroes they are as the U.S. Government is working to pass the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. This will require America’s heroic military working dogs to be returned to U.S. soil upon retirement, and that their human handlers and their families will be given first right of adoption.

Sgt. Rowan
While this is great news for the future, you can help bring dogs home from overseas now! The U.S. War Dogs Association, headed by Vietnam Veteran and War Dog handler Ron Aiello, provides care packages, medical care and much more to canine soldiers. Mission K9 Rescue, chapter 6 of the U.S. War Dogs Association, provides monetary, transportation, adoption, and professional assistance for these retired hero dogs.

Now through Labor Day, September 7th, Morris Animal Inn is hosting a donation drive to support active and retired United States Military working dogs. During Operation: War Dogs, Morris Animal Inn will accept donations for non-profits Mission K9 Rescue & United States War Dogs Association. Every donation helps to give these dogs what they deserve.

To learn more about Operation: War Dogs or to donate, please click here.

Want to meet a U.S. Military dog? Sergeant Rowan will visit Morris Animal Inn for a meet and greet on Friday, July 3 from 9:30am to 11:30am. Rowan retired after serving eight years in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he was adopted by his handler's family after coming back to the states. Come and meet this amazing canine and help support Operation: War Dogs to bring other Military dogs like Rowan home from overseas!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Do Dogs Understand Smiles?

Does your dog tend to understand your emotions? If so, they are not the only ones! Recent studies from the Clever Dog Lab in Vienna shows that dogs do in fact know how we're feeling by reading our facial expressions.

Researchers tested dogs in the study using a touchscreen. The scientists trained the dogs to touch either a happy face or an angry face with their nose for a treat. The dogs were presented with either the top half or the bottom half of the faces to ensure they weren't just responding to a smile or the baring of teeth. The research team agreed that if the dogs were truly able to spot an emotion, they should be able to do so regardless of which part of the face they looked at.

Once the dogs were trained, they ran through choice trials, in which the canines had to pick between strange faces with either happy or angry expressions. The researchers presented the pooches with either the top, bottom, or left half of a face. The scientists chose the left half because previous studies found that dogs prefer to look at the left side of a face.

The pets trained to pick out happy expressions could do so when presented with different halves of a face, as well as when presented with faces they had never seen before. The dogs trained to respond to angry faces were also able to pick out angry expressions, however, it took them longer to learn their task than the dogs trained on happy faces.

It is still unclear whether a dog's ability to read a human face is a result of 15,000 years of companionship or a result of learning through experience. All of the dogs used in the study were household pets with owners who doubtlessly used facial expressions on a regular basis. Still, the findings indicate that dogs use their visual sense much more skillfully than experts thought.

Who knows what else we will discover that our four-legged friends are capable of doing. That's one of the joys of being a pet parent, our furry companions continue to amaze us every day!

Source: National Geographic & Dogster

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Learn to Read Your Cat's Ears

Last week we discussed dog's body language, so we think it's the cat's turn! Just like canines, felines use parts of their body to communicate. Pet 360 provides a guide to understand what your cat's ears are trying to tell you.

First, you must know that cat's ears have more than 24 muscles -- used for more than just hearing. Kitty ears also help display how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. Each direction – turning 180 degrees either backward, forward, down, or up – carries a different message.

Relaxed. When a cat is feeling relaxed, their ears will bow slightly out to the sides and tilt slightly forward. This means all is well. Your cat is content and has a sense of well-being. Your cat is not afraid nor feeling aggressive. If your feline is generally happy, their ears will be in this position most of the time.

Curiosity. If a kitty's interest has been captured by something – an insect, bird, sound, toy – they will be on alert with their ears pointing straight up in the air and tilting forward. This position can tell you that your cat wants to play or that they may be on a hunt. If you've been separated for a few hours, your cat may greet you with this ear position.

Unsure. When both ears are in different positions (which your furry feline has amazing ability to do), your cat is feeling hesitant and is not really sure how to respond to the situation. The ears will hold in place as your cat considers the situation and what to do, and then will move them into entirely new positions during and after making the decision. It’s almost like watching your cat think with his or her ears!

Feeling nervous. When your cat is nervous or agitated, their ears will twitch. If you’re a parent to kitty siblings, one’s twitching ears might indicate they feel an attack, playful or otherwise, coming on. By moving their ears this way, your cat is telling you they need reassurance and may appreciate a comforting cuddle. However, if your cat's twitching is persistent and unwarranted, they might have a medical issue and should be checked by their veterinarian.

Riled up. Aggression may occur when you cat's ears change from being forward to pointing backward. When the ears go from upright to completely horizontal, sticking out at right angles to the head, take note and act accordingly. Your cat is telling you that their present emotion – whether it be submissiveness, annoyance, or fear – is on the rise, and they want to be left alone. If your cat’s ears return to this horizontal position on a regular basis with no indication of any feelings behind it, they may have ear mites or an ear infection -- it may a good idea to see your veterinarian.

Ready to fight. When your feline is thinking about starting a scuffle, her ears will be pointed diagonally backward – not quite forward or completely back. When a kitty is ready to strike with claws and teeth, their ears will flatten against their head. Doing so protects the ears from an opponent’s bites and scratches. When the ears move into this scuffle position, do not try to pick them up or touch your cat. If provoked during this phase, you risk being injured.

So the next time you’re wondering what your kitty is trying to tell you or how they are feeling, just identify their ear positions and the accompanying emotion. If you act appropriately according to your cat's emotional state, your cat will feel more closely bonded to you and will appreciate your understanding of feline language!

Source: Pet 360