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Category: Animals

Due to an unusually warmer winter, bears are emerging from hibernation earlier this year

The Guardian »

There have been multiple sightings of bears emerging from hibernation in February and early March in Russia, Finland and the US, a situation apparently triggered by the mild winter experienced in many countries.

This winter was the warmest ever recorded in Europe “by far”, according to scientists, with the US just experiencing its hottest December and January on record.

Moscow Zoo has been preparing to deal with the emergence of two Himalayan bears a month early, while a grizzly bear sighting was reported on 3 March in Banff national park in Canada, the earliest such sighting in a decade.

The joy of (good) dogs

Most good people love dogs because dogs are naturally happy, they are lovable, and, well, because most good dogs love us.

David E. Cooper, in a book review for the Times Literary Supplement »

The joyousness of dogs, or at any rate their great affability, must have been a significant factor in their induction into human communities. The usual utilitarian view that dogs were first put to practical uses – hunting, guarding, pulling – and only later became inserted into family life as pets is implausible. In several modern-day hunter-gatherer tribes, whose form of life is thought to resemble that of our Palaeolithic ancestors, dogs are companions first and workers second. This shouldn’t be surprising. Dogs could never have been properly trained in the intelligent skills required to, say, assist hunters except by people whose empathy with them was acquired through living with these animals. Konrad Lorenz was right to speculate that the appeal which playful puppies have for children, and indeed their parents, was crucial to their adoption into our ancestors’ communities. Nor should one ignore the emotional service that dogs – their geniality and affection increasingly selected for over the centuries – have rendered to humankind, in addition to their contributions as herders, hunters, guides and much else. As John Bradshaw, a leading authority on the lives of dogs, remarks, companion animals “allow us to have experiences and express behaviours once crucial to our survival”, to obey “Pleistocene instincts embedded in our genes”.

Most dogs are ridden with angst, and their owners are partly to blame

Jim Daley, Scientific American »

For many dog owners, thunderstorms are a source of angst, a walk to the dog park can be a fraught experience, and New Year’s celebrations are particularly stressful. According to a new study of thousands of pet dogs, anxiety and fear-related behavior problems are widespread. Certain breeds are particularly sensitive to loud noises or being left alone. Other breeds may engage in compulsive behaviors such as biting themselves or urinating, suggesting a genetic component to the activity.

James Serpell, an ethologist at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study, says that the problem stems from owners failing to properly socialize their dogs. Many canines rescued from shelters may have been inadequately trained when they were young, and the problem is compounded when new owners are overly cautious with them. “It’s a sort of helicopter-parenting concept applied to dogs,” he says. “Animals are not getting enough exposure to normal social interactions, play behavior and roughhousing with other dogs. That’s asking for trouble.

As a fellow dog owner, I strongly suggest you read the rest of this article, if you own a dog yourself.

Dogs prefer to poop on a north-south axis, in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field

PBS »

Dogs use the Earth’s magnetic field when they’re relieving themselves. Not only that, but canines choose to do so in a north-south axis, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Zoology says.

The study suggests that dogs are sensitive to small variations in Earth’s magnetic field. After examining 70 dogs — made up of 37 breeds — over two years, 1,893 defecations and 5,582 urinations, researchers found that under “calm magnetic field conditions,” dogs preferred to “excrete with the body being aligned along the north-south axis,” avoiding east-west altogether. Dogs were observed in a free-roaming environment, meaning they were not leashed and not influenced by walls or roads that would influence linear movement.

Why do the dogs prefer the north-south axis and avoid east-west? That was unclear, according to the study:

It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it “consciously” (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial perceived (the dogs “see”, “hear” or “smell” the compass direction or perceive it as a haptic stimulus) or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they “feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable” in a certain direction).

Something to chew on » New Zealand man sets up ‘stick library’ for his local dog park

The Guardian »

A New Zealand man has created a “stick library” for his local dog park as a way to recycle branches from tree pruning.

Andrew Taylor, of north Canterbury in the South Island, cut a dozen tree branches down to “stick” size for the community’s four-legged friends, and smoothed away the rough edges using tools he had around the house.

Taylor then built a box to hold the sticks and engraved the words “Stick Library” on it and the words “please return”.

Read the whole article in The Guardian »

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