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Archive for August 2009

Pets Eye View!

Have you ever wondered what your furry little friend gets up to while you're out of the room or at work? Well now you can find out with the Pet's Eye View Camera. Just clip the lightweight digital camera to your pet's collar and you'll be able to take up to 40 photos to document their shenanigans. The camera has an auto interval mode that can be set to snap pictures at 1, 5 or 15 minute intervals. At 640 x 480 resolution the quality isn't too shabby either. All that's left for you to do is hook up the camera to your PC or Mac and check out what sort of mischief Rover and Tiddles have been getting up to in your absence. Small and light enough for most cats and dogs (not too effective on goldfish who haven't got anywhere to go anyway). The Pet's Eye View Camera lets you explore the secret life of your pet.

Study: Dogs can dig through human deception
Man's best friend or food-grubbing flatterer? Dogs are no dummies either way, suggests a study showing how canines respond to deception.

Fido always seems to know which hand hides the treat, even without sniffing, and researchers and pet owners alike have long wondered whether pooches imagine what we are thinking or whether they simply read body language.

PAW PRINT POST: A dog may be your best workout buddy

"Dogs evolved with humans, and a number of studies have suggested they are particularly sensitive to human cues," says psychologist William Roberts of Canada's Dalhousie University. Sentimental pet owners might even say their dogs know what they are thinking.

To test how well dogs have people figured out, Roberts and colleagues performed three experiments reported in the current Behaviour Process journal. The team recruiting pet owners and tested 16 dogs in a park near London, Ontario.

First, the researchers presented the dogs with two covered buckets, one empty, one loaded with treats. In some trials, the same tester would always signal to the dogs the empty bucket. In other trials, another tester would signal the full bucket.

The dogs started out running to the bucket indicated by testers in both trials, but within five attempts, the dogs figured out a little less than half the time to run to the bucket not indicated by the "deceptive" tester.

Similar tests were done decades ago in chimps, notes psychologist Clive Wynne of the University of Florida-Gainesville, editor of the journal. "One interesting thing is that the dogs are wiping the floor with the chimps in how often, statistically, they figure out the deception," he says.

To see whether the human testers mattered, the team replaced the testers with white or black boxes, placed behind buckets, one empty and one holding hot dog pieces. "It appears that dogs learned rather quickly to approach the (full) box and to avoid the (empty) box," the study says.

"They are just as good at it when no humans are involved," Wynne says. The study suggests, he adds, that "sometimes for your dog, you are just a stimulus machine that provides food" rather than a thinking creature whose intentions need to be read.

But Alexandra Horowitz of Columbia University says the experiments can't tell us too much. "In the deceiver case, they were torn — this person had deceived them, but on the other hand, it is still a person, and people often have information about where food or a toy is hidden." 

China pet shops offer 'lucky' tattooed fish

Full Story AFP News

BEIJING — Pet shops in a city in southwest China are offering fish tattooed with patterns and lucky characters intended to bring their owners good fortune and happiness.

 The Qingshiqiao pet market in Chengdu sells a variety of ornamental "fortune fish" decorated with flowers, rainbows and characters, the Huaxi Metropolis Daily reported Thursday.

Tropical parrot fish are usually used for tattooing, often with the Chinese characters meaning "May your business boom," the regional newspaper said on its website.

A dealer said lasers were used to tattoo the fish.

An ordinary parrot fish sells for just 10 yuan (1.5 dollars) while a tattooed one goes for at least 25 yuan.

A set of four fish tattooed with the characters for "Good Fortune," "Luck," "Long Life," and "Happiness" can cost 120 yuan, the paper said.

Tattooed fish first appeared on the market in 2005 but only became popular in the past year or two.

While some shoppers interviewed by the paper said the idea of tattooed fish was novel, others thought it was cruel.

Fisheries expert Zhang Zhicheng said no one had studied how the tattoos would affect the fish.

"To use a laser to tattoo will surely affect the fish. It's like tattooing a human being's body, it breaks the physiological balance of the fish and damages the skin's protective surface," Zhang was quoted as saying.

Pets have become more popular in China in recent years with the country's increasing prosperity.


Pets may help people quit smoking

Full Article here

Not to pat ourselves on the back too hard, but it turns out the kind of information we provided in a January article about the effects of secondhand smoke on pets may save some human lives, too.

A study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association today found that pet owners who are informed about the burden their smoking poses for their pets are more likely to quit. The study, conducted by theHenry Ford Health System's Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, surveyed 3,293 adult pet owners.

Within that survey group, 21 percent currently smoked and 27 percent lived with a smoker.

Presented with the facts about secondhand smoke and pets, many of the pet owners said they were ready to change their habits:

• 28 percent of smokers said they would try to quit.
• 8.7 percent of smokers would ask other smokers in their house to quit.
• 16.4 percent of non-smokers who live with a smoker would ask their housemate to quit and 24.2 percent would ask them to only smoke outdoors.
• 40 percent of smokers said they wanted to receive information on quitting and the effects of secondhand smoke.

Maybe living with an animal has even more health benefits than we already knew about.`

-- Jacques Von Lunen; [email protected]


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