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The World's Oldest Dog

Bobi is world’s oldest dog. Yours can live a long, happy life, too.

Worlds oldest dogWalk, eat, play, sleep. Repeat.

That’s how Bobi, recently deemed the world’s oldest living dog by Guinness World Records, spent much of his 30 years on his family’s farm in the village of Conqueiros, Portugal. Unlike the owner of the Rafeiro do Alentejo, the rest of the world hasn’t had the chance to watch their furry friend age three decades with them.

“That really is an unusual thing,” Erik Olstad, an assistant professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, told The Washington Post. “Owners will always ask me, ‘How can I make my dog live the longest life that they can?’ That’s a loaded question because there are so many variants that go into life expectancy.”

A lot of it is genetics. Life expectancy and predisposition for diseases vary by breed, Olstad said. But there are still things dog owners can do to give their pets the opportunity to live a long and happy life, vets told The Post.

“Dogs are very much like people,” said Natasha Olby, a veterinary professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “They need healthy diets, exercise, community, engagement and regular health care.”

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial, experts told The Post. Dog owners should strive to give them quality dog food and avoid overfeeding because, as they age, the extra weight will make it much harder to treat mobility conditions such as arthritis or ruptured ligaments.

“If I see dogs entering senior years overweight, I can always bet money that we are going to have some serious mobility conversations moving on,” Olstad said.

Preventive care is a must. Keep their vaccinations up to date, take them to the dentist and visit the vet once or twice a year for a regular checkup.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to raise a senior dog, you should not conclude that certain behaviors or conditions are just ailments that come with age, said Nicole Ehrhart, director of the Columbine Health Systems Center for Healthy Aging at Colorado State University.

“One thing that we should not assume as a pet slows down is, ‘Well, it’s just getting old,’” Ehrhart said. If you are seeing your dog slowing down, that should be a warning flag for you to seek veterinary assessment.”

Physical and mental exercise are also key. Take your dog on regular walks and runs that stretch out as long as your dog’s breed and age allow.

The five-mile run that works well for your 1-year-old border collie will not be the same workout that your bulldog with arthritis will require. In that case, experts said, you are better off with giving your dog 15-minute walks four times a day, for example. For mental stimulation, hide food and treats inside their toys.

As much as one wants their dog to live a long life like Bobi — who Guinness says is the oldest ever recorded — experts highlighted that the focus should be on giving pets the most quality of life possible. Life expectancy is not a contract, Olstad told The Post.

“My job as a vet is not to get your dog to live as long as possible if it compromises their quality of life,” Olstad said. “Their happiness is much more important to me than the longevity.”

“Try to not focus on that life expectancy, and look at your dog as an individual,” he said. “I have some [clients] that say, ‘Hey, I heard that someone’s Great Dane lived to 15!’” (Great Danes live an average of eight to 10 years.) “That can be a really tough thing if your expectations aren’t managed.”

 


Cat City Film

A New Documentary by Ben Kolak
CAT CITY
Opens in Los Angeles on May 9, 2024!
Los Angeles Premiere – Thursday, May 9 at 7:30pm
at Laemmle's Glendale
Followed by Saturday & Sunday Matinee shows at Laemmle's Royal

Director Ben Kolak will be in attendance opening night at the Glendale and Saturday, May 11 at 1:00 pm at the Royal!

Cat City chronicles Chicago's love/hate relationship with feral cats. It tells the story of Chicago's outdoor cats and the communities who look after them. What is the right way to care for feral cats and who gets to decide? A ground-breaking 2007 ordinance protects feral cats in Chicago that have been trapped, neutered and returned ("TNR") to their neighborhoods. Dubbed community cats, they control rats and provide love and meaning to their caretakers. There are now thousands of cat colonies in Chicago, many with only a single cat, but some with more than 40. These colonies are fed by volunteer caretakers who report on their well-being. Many ferals succumb to the elements, but the most hardy, tough and careful survive many seasons and become legends in their neighborhoods.

Los Angeles Theatrical Premiere Screening – Thursday, May 9 at 7:30pm
at Laemmle's Glendale. Tickets >>
Director Ben Kolak in person!

Weekend Matinee Screenings – Saturday & Sunday, May 11-12
at Laemmle's Royal. Tickets >>
Director Ben Kolak in person at Saturday's 1pm Show

More Cities Coming Soon!

Monk parakeets have “voiceprints” just like humans

A very interesting discovery as reported by Salon:

Previously, it was thought that these birds introduced themselves to other monk parakeets with a sort of "catchphrase" that distinguished their identity. However, after running the vocalizations collected in this study through the program, a team led by Simeon Smeele, a doctoral student at Aarhus University in Denmark, found that the birds actually had "voiceprints" like humans that identify themselves in the group. Read more.

 


Parrots Taught to Video Call Each Other Become Less Lonely

Parrot on tabletThis interesting article from The Guardian makes a lot of sense!

Pet parrots that are allowed to make video calls to other birds show signs of feeling less isolated, according to scientists.

The study, which involved giving the birds a tablet that they could use to make video calls, found that they began to engage in more social behaviour including preening, singing and play. The birds were given a choice of which “friend” to call on a touchscreen tablet and the study revealed that the parrots that called other birds most often were the most popular choices.

Dr Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, of the University of Glasgow and a co-author of the research, said that video calls had helped many people feel less isolated in the pandemic. She added: “There are 20 million parrots living in people’s homes in the USA, and we wanted to explore whether those birds might benefit from video calling too. If we gave them the opportunity to call other parrots, would they choose to do so, and would the experience benefit the parrots and their caregivers?”

Their analysis, based on more than 1,000 hours of footage of 18 pet parrots, suggested that there were, indeed, benefits for the birds. In the wild, many species of parrots live in large flocks, but as pets tend to be kept alone or in a small group. Isolation and boredom can cause birds to develop psychological problems, which can manifest as rocking, pacing back and forth, or self-harming behaviours such as feather-plucking.

Video calling could reproduce some of the social benefits of living in a flock, the scientists suggested.

The parrots were recruited from users of Parrot Kindergarten, an online coaching and educational programme for parrots and their owners. The birds first learned to ring a bell and then touch a photo of another bird on the screen of a tablet device to trigger a call to that bird, with the assistance of their owners. In total the birds made 147 deliberate calls to each other during the study, while owners took detailed notes on the birds’ behaviour and the researchers later reviewed the video footage.

Dr Jennifer Cunha, of Northeastern University and co-founder of Parrot Kindergarten, said that the parrots “seemed to grasp” that they were engaging with other birds because their behaviour mirrored that seen during real-life interactions. “All the participants in the study said they valued the experience, and would want to continue using the system with their parrots in the future,” she said.

“I was quite surprised at the range of different behaviours,” said Hirskyj-Douglas. “Some would sing, some would play around and go upside down, others would want to show another bird their toys.”

The team’s paper is published in Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.


Street Cat Bob

Bob the catMost of the 1,100 monuments scattered around London are dedicated to individuals who carried out heroic deeds in the service of the Crown. Others applaud the achievements of persons in the fields of arts or sciences. However, there is one unorthodox statue dedicated to a furry, famous Londoner who once walked on four legs.

In the south-east corner of a park in the borough of Islington, lies a life-size bronze of a cat named Bob, who rests perched on a stack of books. This feline was immortalized in a series of novels written by his adopted owner, James Bowen. These two individuals were able to look after one another, and in turn, their lives became the stuff of legend.

Read more here on Atlas Obscura

 


Tracking Your Dog's Fitness With a Smart Collar

News about the ability to track your dog's fitness was announced at this years Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. A French company called Invoxia announced a "smart" dog collar that can measure and tracks a dog's health through sensors and other tech. It can not only monitor health, it also keeps track of their whereabouts and warns of any potential health issues that come up. This is done by measuring respiratory and heart rate. It also has WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth to track the physical location of your pet.

Listen to the podcast here, thanks to USAToday:


15 of NYC’s Most Famous Animals

This fun article in Untapped NY lists some of NYC's favorite animals. Some you may want to track down and others ... maybe not so much! Some are long gone and others you can still see today. Here is the list:

1. Jim, Harry, and Phil, the Peacocks of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

2. Cats of the Algonquin Hotel

3. The Mandarin Duck of Central Park

4. Staten Island Chuck

5. Pizza Rat

6. The Monk Parrots of Green-Wood Cemetery

7. Pattycake the Gorilla

8. Topsy the Elephant

9. Little Rockefeller the Christmas Tree Owl

10. Gus the Polar Bear

11. Pale Male, the Red-Tailed Hawk

12. Hattie the Elephant

13. The Snowy Owl of Central Park

14. The Ghost Dog of Prospect Park

15. The Famous Bridge Falcons

 

 

 

 


The Joy of Pets

20220902_171032Humans are naturally drawn to companionship, and the bond between people and their pets has developed and strengthened throughout time. Studies have shown that owning a pet has a range of positive effects on mental health, like decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms, boosting self-esteem, and giving people a sense of purpose.

And so I wanted to share this well-researched guide, Joy of Pets: How they are Helpful for Mental Health

Here are a few of the many researched facts regarding pets and companionship:

  • 84% of pet owners attest that owning a pet improves their mental health, according to the PDSA Animal Well-being (PAW) Report.
  • 76% of the surveyed respondents in research, agree that interactions between pets and humans address social isolation.

Turtles Talk to Each Other

Get this from Salon - A new study reveals that, in their own special way, turtles chat with each other!

"It was a great surprise to discover they not only vocalize but also do so very often, producing very funny sounds" Turtle

University of Zurich's Gabriel Jorgewich-Cohen is part of a team of international researchers who produced a landmark new study for the journal Nature Communications. Seeking to learn about the evolutionary origins of acoustic communication in vertebrates, the scientists recorded 53 species from four major clades — turtles, tuatara, caecilians and lungfish — to analyze what they heard. In the process, they learned that there are turtles, tuataras, and caecilians that engage in vocal communication, even though those clades had previously been perceived as non-vocal.

"When put in perspective, these findings show that vocal behavior is an evolutionary innovation that first appeared in the common ancestor of tetrapods (amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) and lungfish," Jorgewich-Cohen explained.

To be clear, this vocal behavior does not resemble anything as magnificent as a wolf howling or a bird tweeting. The Cayenne caecilian, in this journalist's opinion, produced sounds a bit like exaggerated yet strangely half-hearted armpit farts, while the mata mata turtle almost came across like a purring cat. Yet despite these seemingly alien vocalizations, the new study reveals that these creatures have much more in common with human beings than we had previously assumed. Rather than making these animals more exotic when compared to us, the new study discloses the extent to which we are part of the same family tree.


Secret Pet Memorial Christmas Tree in Central Park

As reported in Untapped Cities, there is a secret Christmas tree for departed pets in New York's Central Park.

Central-park-2022-secret-pet-memorial-christmas-tree-robyn-untapped-new-york4-768x1024Deep within the woods of Central Park’s Ramble, those in the know gather every December at a secret spot to pay their respects to long-lost pets. Untapped New York first heard rumors of a pet memorial in Central Park in 2013. Since we first set out to find the secret Christmas tree years ago, the tradition has become more and more popular and media coverage has increased. Still, the exact location of the quiet spot remains a lovingly guarded secret, shared only with those who wish to honor their dearly departed furry friends.

The branches of the secret Christmas tree in Central Park are filled with handmade memorials dedicated to lost pets, be they a dog or cat, or other beloved creature. The occasional bauble or pet toy can be found among many laminated photos tied to the tree with festive ribbons and bows. The photos on the ornaments often feature the pet’s name and a message of appreciation for their companionship.

It’s unclear how long this tradition has been going on and who first started it. The earliest coverage we found was dated 2010. Each year, the mysterious caretakers carefully remove all of the ornaments and then bring them back next year. An Untapped New York Insider, who makes a pilgrimage to the tree every year to honor her family’s cats, found a thank you note from a pair of dog owners who left a photo of their pooch on the tree one year and were surprised to return the next year to see that their memorial had been saved and put up once again.

A visit to this Christmas tree pet memorial in Central Park is bittersweet. While it’s sad to think about losing a pet, it is touching to see the outpouring of love and appreciation pet owners share. We hope this special tradition continues for many years to come!