Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit

PFL Toolkit CoverThe Pets for Life Community Outreach Toolkit is an interactive manual created by the HSUS’sPets for Life program, funded by PetSmart Charities.

The first of its kind, it’s designed to guide organizations through the process of developing and implementing a community outreach program tailored to connect under-served communities with the animal welfare resources, services and information they need.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

What Dogs Think

Is your dog really excited to see you? Or is the panting and tail wagging simply a sign that he’s anticipating a treat?

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta are trying to answer this question and others by using MRI scans. In a new study, scientists report that they have for the first time successfully trained dogs to lie awake and still in an MRI machine for 10 to 15 seconds, long enough to complete a scan.

“We can actually capture brain images and see what parts of the brain are activating when we have hand signals or when we talk to [the dog] or when we point this way or that way. Now we can really begin to understand what a dog is thinking.” Gregory Berns, Professor of Neuroeconomics (Emory University)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Ozzie - Cane Toad Detection Dog

Cane Toad Detection Dog

Ozzie the cane toad detection dog hard at work on Groote Eylandt in Northern Australia. Ozzie is the world's second cane toad detection dog trained by Gary Jackson from Multi-National K9 www.dogtrainingtips.net.au

Source: Eukanuba Extraordinary Dogs - Cane Toad Detection Dog

Friday, 25 May 2012

2012 Assistance Dogs International Conference

The next Assistance Dogs International (ADI) Conference is being held in Barcelona (Spain) 27-29 July, 2012.

The conference will be held back-to-back with the Canine Science Forum (CSF) www.csf2012.com. There will be a joint session on the 27, enabling delegates to share ideas and good practice and to network.  

  • Joint session with Canine Science Forum - presentations & discussions
  • David Nieto Macein - Current thinking in commonality and differences between wolves and dogs
  • World expert Nick Allan on fundraising through electronic media
  • Puppies in Flight - A program to support assistance dog organisations
  • Assessing and maximising the effectiveness of assistance dogs

  • Preparing children with autism for assistance dogs
  • Access issues - panel discussion on what is happening around the world and the key challenges
  • Undertaking the whole assistance dog training programme in prisons
  • Canine Neonatology - increasing survival rates
  • The challenges of working with people with PTSD
  • Making the most of social media - can it add value?
  • Measuring Impact - how do dogs make a difference to the lives of people with disabilities?
  • Hip Dysplasia - new genetic studies
  • Plans for a new organisation called Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII)
  • Assessing effectiveness of new services - how to carry out effective but low-cost research
  • Using technology to support the work of assistance dogs
  • Teaching service dog signals for clients with limited mobility or who are non-verbal

For further information, visit: www.assistancedogsinternational.org

Dogs Help Australia’s Elderly

Research into the effects of canine companions on residents in aged care facilities looks like having a major impact on the way dementia patients are treated. 

What place do dogs have in reducing the effects of this debilitating disease? 

With a rapidly ageing population, dementia is predicted to be the leading cause of disability in Australia within 8 years, resulting in many people living with memory and attention loss. As well, there will be a corresponding decline in language skills, and increased feelings of insecurity and vulnerability. 

The benefits of having a pet are well-documented. Jackie Perkins, PhD student at the Centre for Companion Animals Health, UQ, wanted to help dementia patients. Jackie’s research, generously funded by the Wicking Trust, is examining ‘how dogs can have a therapeutic effect on dementia sufferers’. She has developed questionnaires to better understand the relationship between people in aged care facilities and therapy dogs. 

One person declared “While I had Golly on my lap, I didn’t feel the pain in my hip” and another, “While I was stroking Lady I felt the pain in my leg go”. Even those whose previous experience with dogs had not been positive showed signs of overcoming their reluctance - asking to be included in the trials to play with and pat the dogs. The dogs, Golly, Lady and Rinnie, responded with the warmth characteristic of these adoring pets. The residents also formed close relationships with other members in their trial group. In this way, they regained some of their lost communication skills. 

Current medical treatment for dementia is largely ineffective. The success of this project would mean that dogs could become part of accepted therapy in the palliative care of elderly Australians and contribute to improving their quality of life.

Source: Centre for Companion Animal Health, University of Queensland

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Catalyst: Left Paw Right Paw - ABC TV Science

Pawedness in Dogs - is your dog a left-paw or a right-paw? And if so, what does it mean? 

Not only would being a leftie shape your dog's personality, it has a massive influence on whether a puppy will pass or fail Guide Dog School. Recent research by Guide Dogs NSW has indicated that dogs who are right-pawed more likely to graduate Guide Dog School than south paws!

It's all to do with what's called brain lateralisation. That's where different hemispheres of the brain do different jobs. So the right brain is largely in charge of the fight-flight response - fear, anxiety. Whereas the left brain is largely in charge of jobs like eating. And because the nerves cross over, right-pawed means left brain biased, whereas left-pawed means right brain biased. 

Decades of research in other species shows that right-handed animals tend to be more bold and inquisitive, while left-handed animals tend to be more fearful and cautious. So perhaps it's not surprising the more anxious lefties did worse.

Basically Guide Dogs are trained to work on the left side of their handler, and the vision in their right eye is often partially obscured. So I think that may have influenced the left-biased dogs in being more successful.

However, one of the best guides to Guide Dog success, believe it or not, it's about which direction dog’s hair whorls in... Pioneering work in cattle found that the position and direction of the hair whorl had a large bearing on how anxious or bold cattle were. 

No-one is sure exactly why, but it's something to do with skin and brain development in the embryo, and it's independent of paw preference. And it turned out that counter-clockwise dogs were twice as likely to graduate as the clockwise. Which astonished NSW’s Guide Dog School... 

catalyst_s13_ep03_LeftPaw-3_small.jpgSo the perfect candidate for Guide Dog School should in theory be right-pawed, left-eyed with an anti-clockwise whorl... 

View this intriguing video by ABC Catalyst Team:
Left Paw Right Paw

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Canine Chiropractor Helps Heal Hounds

Healing Hands of Old George

At 94, canine chiropractor George Schofield OAM continues to help dogs in pain. The WWII veteran works six days a week from a shed on his property in Yuroke, 30km north of Melbourne.

‘‘These days I usually treat between 6-12 dogs a day, which is great because it gives me company. People have brought their dogs to me from as far as NZ and Darwin. Just last week a lady drove down from Canberra so I could treat her dogs.’’

Schofield, a self-taught practitioner, first made a name for himself as a greyhound chiropractor.

For decades trainers would bring about 30 race dogs to him each day so he could use manipulation and massage to detect and treat injuries and to ensure their dogs were ready for their next race.

Schofield has helped many champion greyhounds, including Bold Trease, Temlee and Shans View. In the 1990s he expanded his business to treat domestic dogs.

‘‘I started helping other breeds as well as greyhounds because all dogs deserve to live pain-free,’’ Schofield said, a member of Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Hall of Fame.

After starting out treating dogs for a silver coin donation, the cost has risen to $10 a dog. Such is his passion for the greyhound breed Schofield refuses to accept payment for treating a retired race dog. (Herald Sun 25 April 2012)

‘‘Greyhounds are my favourite type of dog because they have such a placid nature.’’

George has also worked with the Victorian Police Dog Squad, the Australian Customs Drug Detector Dog Unit, the Office of Corrections Dog Squad and with Dogs from the Security and Emergency Services Group.

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