One dogs contem....contemp....con-tem..pla-tions on daily life........oh, stop rolling your eyes already and give me break, I'm a dog, for Gods sakes...


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Why dogs chase laser beams

When a wiggly little bead of light catches a dog's eye, nothing in the world matters more than capturing it. Unfortunately, "it" is just an ungraspable bundle of massless photons. The lack of closure in laser-beam chasing could be messing with your dog's head.

Dogs (and some cats) instinctively chase these bright-red dots simply because the dots move, said Nicholas Dodman, a professor of animal behavior at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Movement automatically stimulates their innate prey drive , which explains why lower-on-the-food-chain animals such as rodents and rabbits often freeze in place as a survival strategy. Although dogs aren't so discerning when it comes to color , their eyes contain a high preponderance of light-sensitive cells called rods for top-notch motion detection.

A laser beam's incessant movement keys into this predatory system. "They can't help themselves; they are obliged to chase it," Dodman told Life's Little Mysteries.

'They can't help themselves, they're obliged to chase it.'

- Nicholas Dodman, professor of animal behavior

But should you really be stimulating your dog's prey drive when it won't ever lead to triumph — the catching of light? Probably not such a good idea. "They can get so wound up and driven with prey drive that once they start chasing the light they can't stop. It becomes a behavior problem," Dodman said. "I've seen light chasing as a pathology where they will just constantly chase around a light or shadow and pounce upon it. They just spend their whole lives wishing and waiting." [How Did Dogs Get to Be Dogs? ]

Never getting a reward for their vigilance "makes dogs loopy," he explained. Along the same lines, trainers of bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs have found that their dogs become psychologically disturbed if they never find bombs or drugs, so they must occasionally be taken on dummy missions.

For pets who love to chase, more tangible toys pose a solution. Dodman recommends "Talk to Me Treat Ball" products, a line of motion-activated balls that play owner-recorded messages and kick out food treats through slits as the dog plays. "It's about as near to real prey as you can get, other than tipping open a box of mice in your living room," he said.

If you insist on dancing a laser beam across the floor instead, one option is to hide treats in nooks and crannies around the room, and occasionally surprise your pet by landing the light upon them

New Mexico town amends dog leash laws for 'Blue'

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Officials in New Mexico's lakeside town of Elephant Butte on Wednesday changed their leash law to let community icon-turned-national media star Blue the dog continue roaming free, within the confines of a wireless fence.

The vote ended a closely watched, months-long dispute over whether the blue-eyed Australian heeler, who became a fixture in the town after being abandoned more than a decade ago, should be subject to the town's ordinance.

Blue's attorney and caretakers at the Butte General Store & Marine initially sought an exemption for Blue, citing his popularity in the community and friendly demeanor. After city officials refused, they reached a compromise to include wireless fences as an acceptable restraint under the law.

Blue has been hanging around the store for years. He has refused numerous attempts at adoption, so community members have built him an air-conditioned and heated dog house. Store visitors regularly donate cash for his care.

Blue's fight over city demands that he be leashed or confined made national headlines and earned him more than 3,700 Facebook friends.

Janice Conner, who owns the general store with husband Bob Owen, said it's been a long saga, but one that ended well for Blue, the community and dog lovers around the world.

"In his name, people have donated money to people with other dogs in need," she said in a telephone interview. "Dogs have been adopted through his Facebook page. All around, it has been a real positive thing."

At the local level, the ordinance change protects other dog owners from being threatened with the potential loss of a dog, said Albuquerque attorney Hilary Noskin, a lake property owner who took the case pro bono. Under the new ordinance, pet owners must be given warnings before a dog can be picked up by animal control, and any complaints about a dog must be verified before pet owners are cited, she said.

Conner said Blue's troubles began after baseless complaints about his free-wandering ways that followed a fatal pit bull attack in Truth or Consequences, about two miles away.

Conner said Invisible Fence of New Mexico donated a fence that gives Blue about an acre of territory to roam around the store.

"They did a lot of training with him, but it's going to take a while," she said of the system that delivers a shock-like jolt through a dog's collar when it crosses a defined perimeter. "He has gone out one time, and he fought coming back through it."

In Va., dogs and the dead are invited to vote

In Va., dogs and the dead are invited to vote

A group that tries to get “historically underrepresented groups” to the polls has targeted some particularly unlikely voters: dogs and dead Virginians. Early-afternoon voters at Popes Head Precinct in Fairfax in August 2011. Election officer Dave Mitchell, right, shows the Courtney family how to use the voting machine. (Tracy A Woodward - The Washington Post) The Voter Participation Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, also sent voter registration forms to scores of noncitizens, children and other Virginians ineligible to vote, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections, which has received more than 100 complaints.

The mailings have revived talk of voter fraud in Virginia, a crucial swing state where President Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney are deadlocked in a recent poll. And it has prompted the Romney campaign to call for a criminal investigation.

“This presents a very significant risk to the proper administration of the upcoming general election,” Kathryn Biber, the campaign’s general counsel, said in a letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and the State Board of Elections.

The center said it used a commercial mailing list to target unregistered voters, and that it never meant to send forms to anyone ineligible to vote. It said the errant mailings, first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, represent just a fraction of the nearly 200,000 it sent out across Virginia.

“The state forms are official applications, they are not registration cards,” the center said in a written statement issued Wednesday. “Furthermore, they were approved by the State Board of Elections before we sent them out and are the same applications that anyone can access at a local government office or on the Internet. Our process is legal and working.15,000 Virginians have submitted these registration applications and been added to the rolls by government officials - a start at whittling down the state’s 2 million unregistered [voters].”

But for some, the mailings have reignited fears that Virginia is vulnerable to voter fraud, a claim that was bitterly debated in the General Assembly this year. Citing concerns about the integrity of elections, the GOP-controlled General Assembly closed a loophole that had allowed voters to cast ballots without showing identification. Democrats charged that the voter ID law, while more moderate than those Republicans have recently pushed in other states, was intended to make it harder for minorities and other Democratic-leaning groups to vote.

State Sen. Thomas Garrett (R-Louisa), a Louisa County prosecutor who successfully tried two felons who registered to vote in 2009, said one of the two registered after receiving a form by mail from the Voter Participation Center.

“Clearly they haven’t gotten the message,” Garrett said.

Page Gardner, the center’s president, said the center was only trying to encourage eligible voters to exercise their franchise. She said the group tries to make its mailing list “as perfect as possible.”

“We have nothing to do with that issue, voter fraud. We send people applications to fill out in the mail,” Gardner said. “It’s up to them to fill out the form and obey all the state laws and federal laws.”

The dead can wind up on a mailing list because it is compiled from things such as magazine subscriptions, which often are not updated with a new name when a spouse dies. Some people have subscriptions in the names of their pets for reasons that Gardner, who described herself as “a non-pet owner,” said she did not understand.

The focus on the errant mailings is a “man-bites-dog story” in Gardner’s view, one that she says misses the bigger picture — that nearly 2 million eligible Virginians are not registered to vote.

“It’s fun to write about Mozart and other pets getting these voter registration applications,” Gardner said, referring to a dead dog who was sent a form from her group. “[But] at some point, we have to look at ourselves and say, ‘Really, what’s the story here?’ ”

In her letter, Biber contends that the center’s mass mailing may have violated state laws, including those that prohibit falsifying a registration application and communicating false information to voters about their registration status.

“The conduct of the Voter Participation Center likely violates at least one and maybe several Virginia laws aimed at ensuring a fair election,” the letter says. “The Center’s conduct is all the more troubling because the Center’s materials affirmatively tell mailing recipients that ‘records show that you are eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election.’ ”

Biber also contends that the center violated the law by “pre-populating” the registration forms, meaning it filled in the names on applications. She contends that only voters, not a third party registering them, may fill out the application.

Biber also asks the State Board of Elections to review the eligibility of everyone registered to vote in the past two months.

“This is the only way for voters and other interested parties to regain confidence in the voter registration and electoral process that has been abused by the Voter Participation Center,” she wrote.

State elections officials and Cuccinelli’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Dogs

Dogs and humans have been living side-by-side for about 15,000 years, so you might think we know each other pretty well. But there's more to dogs than fetching and playing dead. Here are some little-known facts about man's best friend.
Humans and canines aren't so different after all, at least regarding what makes us sick. About 6 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer each year, and dogs get canine versions of rare human disorders like the brain-wasting neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosisthat leads to the inability to walk or control their muscles. While illness is sad for humans and pets alike, sharing diseases benefits both species. Clinical trials are easier to run on pets, giving doctors an animal model of human disease -- and Fido a chance for a cure.
If you have cancer, diabetes, or epilepsy, your dog might be the first to know. Studies have shown that dogs can be trained to sniff out cancersof the lung, breast, skin, bladder and prostate. Researchers suspect the canines are picking up on extraordinarily faint scents given off by the abnormal cells.
Dogs are also being increasingly used as service animals for people with diabetes, whose health can be harmed when their blood sugar peaks or drops. Specially trained dogs can detect the scent of these fluctuations (sweet for high blood sugar, acidic for low) and alert their owners before they even feel symptoms.
Most mysterious of all are scattered reports that dogs can predict an epileptic seizure 45 minutes before it begins. No one knows what the dogs might be picking up on, but theories range from an unknown smell to subtle behavioral changes.
Dogs can be as smart as 2-year-old children, according to research presented in 2009 at a meeting of the American Psychological Association. Border collies are the top dogs in the intelligence category, with some in the breed capable of understanding up to 200 words. Poodles, German shepherds, Golden retrievers and Dobermans round out the top five smartest breeds. (The most popular breed in America, the Labrador retriever, comes in at number seven.)
Older breeds like hound dogs, bulldogs and beagles are among the slow learners of the doggie world, the researchers reported. Unlike newer dog breeds, which are designed for companionship and sociability, old breeds were bred to sniff and hunt, perhaps giving them more brawn than brain.
We've all heard the canard that dogs' mouths are cleaner than humans (they're not), but in reality, dogs can carry pathogens that harm humans. Rabies, a fatal neurological disease, is the most famous (remember Old Yeller?), though vaccines, mandated by law in most states, can stop the spread. In a few cases, dog food has been known to cause food poisoning in humans, thanks to contamination by Salmonella bacteria. Perhaps creepiest of all is a 2003 study published in The Veterinary Record, which found that humans could contract the parasitic roundworm Toxocara canisjust be stroking an infected dogs' fur. The roundworm, which grows in dogs' intestines, can grow in the back of the eye in humans, causing blindness. They also sometimes take up residence in human livers and lungs.
Roundworm infections in humans are rare, and proper veterinary care can ensure that dogs stay worm-free. Still, British veterinarian and study co-author told New Scientist magazine in 2003, hygiene is important for dog owners. "Wash your hands before meals," he told the magazine, "and after a good cuddle."
We've all heard the canard that dogs' mouths are cleaner than humans (they're not), but in reality, dogs can carry pathogens that harm humans. Rabies, a fatal neurological disease, is the most famous (remember Old Yeller?), though vaccines, mandated by law in most states, can stop the spread. In a few cases, dog food has been known to cause food poisoning in humans, thanks to contamination by Salmonella bacteria. Perhaps creepiest of all is a 2003 study published in The Veterinary Record, which found that humans could contract the parasitic roundworm Toxocara canisjust be stroking an infected dogs' fur. The roundworm, which grows in dogs' intestines, can grow in the back of the eye in humans, causing blindness. They also sometimes take up residence in human livers and lungs.
Roundworm infections in humans are rare, and proper veterinary care can ensure that dogs stay worm-free. Still, British veterinarian and study co-author told New Scientist magazine in 2003, hygiene is important for dog owners. "Wash your hands before meals," he told the magazine, "and after a good cuddle."
Those puppy-dog eyes Fido gives you when you scold him over knocking over the garbage can for the umpteenth time aren’t a sign of guilt, researchers say. He's just responding to your rebuke.
When dog owners thought their dogs had eaten a forbidden treat and reprimanded them, the pooches looked just as "guilty" regardless of whether or not they had actually eaten the treat. In fact, dogs who were wrongly accused of snack-snatching often looked more guilty than dogs who had really eaten the treat. Turns out those soulful eyes don't reflect any soul-searching, after all.
On the other hand, if your dog stays out of the garbage, it may be in for a longer life. Obedient, docile dog breeds live longer, according to research published in June 2010 in The American Naturalist. The study compared the energy use, personalities, growth rates and life spans of 56 dog breeds. After controlling for factors like body size, the researchers found that bold, aggressive breeds lived fast and died young. They grew faster than obedient, eager-to-please breeds, and also had higher energy needs. The findings suggest that in selectively breeding for personality, humans inadvertently tapped into linked traits like metabolism and longevity.
From the droopy Bassett hound to the sleek-and-slim Weimaraner, dogs show an amazing diversity in body shape. A study published in The American Naturalist in 2010 found that the differences between dog breeds' skullsare as pronounced as the differences between completely separate mammal species. A Collie skull, for example, is as different from a Pekingese skull as a cat's skull is from a walrus's.
All of this diversity makes dogs a great species for studying how genes work, allowing researchers to link genes to certain traits -- like what makes Shar-Peis wrinkly and dachshunds so stubby.
In ancient times, people saw dogs as more than useful animals; dogs also had a spiritual role. The three-headed hound called Cerberus guarded the underworld in Greek myth, while the ancient Egyptian embalmers took Anubis, the jackel-headed god, as their patron. In Mayan folklore, dogs were believed to lead the dead to the afterlife. In Nepal, the autumn festival of Tihar sets aside a day to honor dogs with flower garlands and food.
Nowadays, dogs are more likely to be seen as pets than religious figures, but people are still crazy about canines. According to a 2009-2010 survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 39 percent of American households have at least one dog for a total of over 77 million pet dogs hunkered down in American homes. In one recent survey, 80 percent of dog owners reported interacting with their dogs for more than two hours a day. Many reported viewing their pets as their children.
Man's best friend may even net you more human friends. A 2000 study published in journal of The British Psychological Society found that walking with a dog at least tripled the number of social interactions a person had. Unfashionable pet owners take heart: The dogs elicited positive social contact even when the animal looked fierce or the owner dressed in shabby clothes.

Dog dodges death with role in 'Annie'

NEW YORK — Broadway's newest Little Orphan Annie has found her Sandy.
The award-winning animal trainer William Berloni on Thursday unveiled the pooch who is slated to star in the Broadway revival of the Tony Award-winning musical "Annie" — Sunny, a 2-year-old female terrier mix rescued from a city pound in Houston.
"The most talented animals are right there under your nose," said Berloni, who makes it a point of using shelter dogs in all his projects. "The message is: Animals in shelters are not damaged, just unfortunate."
Sunny was only 24 hours away from being euthanized four months ago when Berloni spotted her photo online while conducting a nationwide search for Sandy. She had been mislabeled as male and given the name Bruno. Touched, he forwarded her photo to one of the show's producers, Arielle Tepper Madover, who wrote back, "Save her. I don't care what it costs."
"So I adopted her sight-unseen," said Berloni. "I didn't think she was a candidate for Sandy. Her description was so sweet and she looked very much like the original Sandy that we were just saving her to find her a home."
Sunny was shipped to New York and came muzzle-to-face with Berloni. "I met her and went, 'Wow, she could really be a candidate,'" he said. "She's going to be fantastic."
"Annie," starring 11-year-old Lilla Crawford in the title role and Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan, will begin previews on Oct. 3 at the Palace Theatre and will open on Nov. 8.
Berloni, whose extensive Broadway credits include training animals for "Legally Blonde," ''Joe Turner's Come and Gone," ''Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," ''Awake and Sing" and "The Wizard of Oz," began working as an animal trainer when he plucked the original Sandy in "Annie" from a shelter in 1976 for $7 the day before it was to be euthanized.
He chuckles that his career has come full circle with the new "Annie" revival. "You hear of people ... being remembered for having a signature song?" he asks. "Well, I think I'm the only guy who has a signature dog."
The original Sandy, also a terrier mix, went on to play almost all 2,377 performances of "Annie" and Berloni supplied shelter dogs for all four national tours of the show, as well as the 10th, 20th and 30th anniversary productions. Sunny's understudy, Casey, was rescued from a shelter in Nashville, Tenn.
The revival of the musical, which features music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin and book by Thomas Meehan, will be directed by three-time Tony winner James Lapine and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler. Its hit songs include "It's the Hard-Knock Life" and "Tomorrow."
Lapine has yet to plan out exactly what he wants Sunny to do, other than not what any other Sandys have done in the past. Berloni is preparing a list of tricks, and has been told that creators may want the dog to dance. "I have to say, it's the first time I've ever put a dog in a dance number," he said. "That's going to be new and interesting."
The dog food company Pedigree has make the unprecedented step of partnering with the new Broadway production and will donate $2 for every ticket sold through Dec. 31, 2013 — up to $1 million — to a nonprofit dedicated to helping dogs find homes. All proceeds from co-branded merchandise will go to the effort.
Pedigree Senior Brand Manager Lisa Campbell hopes the initiative will put a spotlight on the plight of homeless dogs. "Shelter dogs aren't broken — they just haven't been given the chance," she said. "What a great vehicle to show people that you can find a star in a shelter. A dog that is now a Broadway star very easily could have been euthanized."
The journeys of Sunny and Casey from life in shelters to the bright lights of Times Square will be documented in a 30-minute TV special, "Annie's Search for Sandy," set to air on NBC in October.
Though Berloni concentrates mostly on dogs, he's also trained cats, birds and rodents. He coached a cat in "The Lieutenant of Inishmore," a rat in "The Woman in White" and 23 lambs for Bernadette Peters' run in "Gypsy."
He won a special 2011 Tony Award for his contribution to the theater and is a behavior consultant to the Humane Society of New York. After Berloni's animals retire, they often spend their final years at his Connecticut farm.
"I always say anybody could have gone into a shelter and adopted any one of the animals that I've turned into Broadway stars the day before I did," he said. "And they would have been great dogs in someone's home. I just get the opportunity to show that they're great dogs onstage."
To get Sunny used to Broadway, her diet will be carefully monitored, her routine formalized and she'll get used to all the actors in the "Annie" revival to ensure everyone is comfortable. She'll also be brought to current Broadway shows to get familiar with the roar of the crowd.
"The hardest thing for her is to get used to the audience's response. We can mimic every other aspect of it — sets, movements, people, lights and sounds. But there aren't many opportunities for me to bring her to a show and have her hear applause."

NYC Dog Wedding Sets a New World Record

In one extravagant, over-the-top affair held in New York City on Thursday night two dogs said “I do” (sort of) and simultaneously broke the Guinness World Record for the most expensive pet wedding in history.
The pooches – Baby Hope Diamond, a teacup-sized Coton de Tulear, and Chilly Pasternak, a tie-dyed poodle – were united in holy matrimony by Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, with help from Robert Smigel, beneath a floral chuppah and in front of nearly 300 guests at the ritzy Jumeirah Essex House hotel across from Central Park.
Standing at Baby Hope’s side as the Maid of Honor was Wendy Diamond, Baby Hope’s owner, who orchestrated the $270,000 affair (all donated) to raise money and awareness for the Humane Society of New York.
“This was the sweetest and most beautiful animal benefit in history,” Diamond, a TV personality and pets rights activist, told
A $6,000 custom-made wedding dress for the bride, $30,000 worth of flowers, a $5,000 sushi spread and a $15,000 seven-piece orchestra were among the extravagances that made the wedding one for the record books.
“I am happy to announce that this is the most expensive pet wedding in history,” said Guinness World Records adjudicator Sara Wilcox, confirming it blew well past the previous record, a $16,421 ceremony for two cats in Thailand.
To celebrate, the pups dug into a buffet of Halo all-natural dog treats donated by talk show host Ellen Degeneres while their owners and guests dug into a five-tiered wedding cake topped by a model bisou fries made by the Hoboken, N.J., bakery made famous by TLC’s reality show “Cake Boss.”
Because the vendors-to-the-stars tapped by Diamond to orchestrate the event all donated their time and services, the $50,000 raised last night will all benefit the Lucky Diamond Critical Care Ward at the Humane Society of New York.
The ward is named for Diamond’s beloved Maltese who died of cancer last month. When Diamond learned that 15-year-old Lucky was near death, she began an online contest to find a new face for Animal Fair, the charity she founded after adopting Lucky in 1999.
Click HERE to see photos of Lucky.
Last night’s wedding was intended to be a last hurrah for Lucky, but instead became a chance for Hope Diamond to say “I do” to Chilly Pasternak, the Virginia poodle that won the online vote.
“Baby Hope, do you take this pooch to love, not spend the night with, and advocate for animal welfare as long as you both shall live? If so, breathe heavily,” Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, said during the vows.
“And do you, Chilly, take this purse jockey to be your wife? Katie Holmes is back on the market, and I don’t think it would be any weirder than her first marriage! If so, sweat through your tongue.”
“I now pronounce you dog and bitch,” he said.
The Guinness World Record that those vows sealed is not the first world record held by Diamond and her dogs.
As the face of Animal Fair for more than a decade, Lucky earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the Animal Most Photographed with Celebrities, with more than 360 photos of everyone from Betty White to Barbara Walters, all cataloged in the ” Who Got Lucky?” column on the charity’s website.

Dog pics

Twitter used to reunite lost dog with its owner in Ireland

A Jack Russell has been reunited with its owner in Ireland over Twitter.

Patch was discovered unaccompanied on a train shortly after it left Kilcock station in County Kildare early on Wednesday morning (July 4), and was handed over to Irish Rail (Iarnr√≥d √Čireann) staff when the service arrived at its destination in Dublin.

 Irish Rail used its Twitter account to post a photograph of the dog along with the message: "Lost dog! Boarded at Kilcock at 06.49 this morning, currently being looked after in Pearse Stn. Please retweet."

Patch's owner Deirdre Anglin contacted Irish Rail half an hour later, following almost 500 retweets of the original message. The dog had gone missing from her home on Tuesday afternoon (July 3).

Anglin told the Irish Sun: "When I saw Irish Rail's tweet, I was absolutely delighted and so pleased they thought of using Twitter."

An Irish Rail spokesperson told BBC News: "We are delighted to have played a part in reuniting Deirdre and Patch. Patch seemed to enjoy his adventure, and was a very friendly dog.

"We also want to thank our customers on the train, and our Twitter followers - it was a great team effort, and testament to the power of Twitter."