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).
The good news, at face value, is this: if you are looking for proof that having a pet improves your general health, the evidence abounds. For instance, there is plenty about how a bout of pet-stroking can lower your heart rate (and the pet’s), easing your body into a less stressed condition. This seems to apply across the spectrum, from dogs and cats to snakes and goats. And there’s more. There’s evidence from Germany and Australia (sample size: 10,000) that pet-owners make fewer visits to the doctor and, from China, that pet-owners sleep more soundly than those who aren’t. Just last week, the American Heart Association reported that the survival prospects for people who have had heart attacks and strokes are better in dog-owners than in those who are not.
If we were able to put all these pros and cons into a melting pot and come up with a definitive answer to the question of whether or not pets are good for us, what would the answer be? The answer would be … complicated. Because humans and our circumstances are so universally mixed up and complex. The simple truth is that having a pet has good and bad sides, and it may not be for everyone. Which means we have a duty to think carefully before acquiring one. We need to imagine the good times we might have with a pet and to consider the bad times, too: the insecurity, the grumpiness in old age, the infirmity.
Research published by Mayo Clinic has found keeping a pet is associated with better cardiovascular health, especially if that animal is a dog.
The study examined the association of pet ownership with cardiovascular disease risk factors.
‘In general, people who owned any pet were more likely to report more physical activity, better diet and blood sugar at ideal level,’ said researcher Andrea Maugeri. ‘The greatest benefits from having a pet were for those who owned a dog, independent of their age, sex and education level.’
It’s not the Iditarod, but about the 1,000-mile long Yukon Quest.
Elisa Shoenberger, writing in Deadspin:
Today, the Quest winds its way up through the Yukon and Alaskan wilderness, passing villages and remote houses along the way. The middle point is historic Dawson City, the capital of the Klondike Gold Rush, filled with casinos, dance halls, hotels, banks, and luxurious shopping back in the day. It was even once called “The Paris of the North.” The first musher to Dawson City wins a few ounces of gold, a nice nod to the city’s heritage.
The first race was won by Sonny Lindner in 12 days and 5 minutes; the fastest finish was by Allen Moore in 2004 in 8 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes. Aliy Zirkle was the first woman to win the race in 2000. The closest finish was in 2012, when Hugh Neff beat Allen Moore by only 26 seconds.
The Yukon Quest is a smaller and younger race than the Iditarod. The latter is better known and is much more commercialized, bringing bigger sponsors and media attention. There’s also a bigger prize for mushers who win or place high enough. It therefore attracts greater numbers of mushers: the Iditarod had 52 mushers participate this year while the Quest had 30. Some feel that the focus on money in the Iditarod has moved it away from the real stars of the show: the dogs and the mushers themselves.
David Howe tells us how wolves became domesticated dogs.
Since their emergence over 200,000 years ago, modern humans have established communities all over the planet. But they didn’t do it alone. Whatever corner of the globe you find humans in today, you’re likely to find another species as well: dogs. So how did one of our oldest rivals, the wolf, evolve into man’s best friend? David Ian Howe traces the history of humanity’s first domesticated animal. [Directed by Cabong Studios, narrated by Addison Anderson, music by Vadeco Schettini].
Eric, Steve, Dax, Sean, and Nate are over six feet tall yet the dogs they chose and love barely reach their ankles.
In this short CBC documentary we see how much these little dogs mean to these men, and that size really doesn’t matter.
I have welcomed 4 different Labrador Retrievers into my life. Our personalities matched and I had always pictured myself having one. Circumstances recently lead to me adopting a Cairn Terrier. Skye may be small but she has a large personality and I don’t think she’s ever recognized herself in a mirror. I now understand the appeal of smaller dogs.
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