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Pawpourri

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!

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

 


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.

Pet Body Language You Might Be Misreading

According to AARP magazine, there may be some dog and cat behaviors that we may be misreading. You may think you know what that tail wag or cuddle means, but do you? We asked a few experts for guidance.

Dog smiling

Dogs smiling
Getty Images

What you think it means: All is well.

What it really means: That grinning look is not the same for dogs as for humans. “Generally speaking, tension in the mouth is a sign of stress,” Case says. “If the dog is actually feeling happy, their mouth isn’t going to have tension to it. It might be open a little bit with what we call a soft face.”

Dog wagging tail

 
Dog wagging tail
Getty Images

What you think it means: I’m happy.

What else it can mean: “People think just because the tail is wagging, all is well, but that’s not always the case,” says certified applied animal behaviorist Jill Goldman. A good tail wag is side to side or in circles. This often means that the dog is excited to see someone. But a wagging tail that is a “high mast, hooked all the way over,” Goldman says, can signal a heightened emotional state that isn’t necessarily social.

Cat rolling over

Cat rolling over
Getty Images

What you think it means: Rub my belly.

What it really means: Not that. “Most cats do not love belly rubs,” says feline behaviorist Marci L. Koski. “That’s where the Venus cat trap comes into play. You put your hand on the belly and then, whoo, there go the claws.”

Dog panting

Dog Panting
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What you think it means: I’m hot.

 

What else it can mean: “Panting can sometimes mean stress,” says Courtney Case, a trainer at the Granada Hills, California–based J9’s K9s Dog Training. “So if you’re sitting inside and your dog hears a noise and they start panting, it might mean that they’re a little bit stressed, and they’re just trying to get a little bit more oxygen into those lungs.”

Cat rubbing up against you

Cat rubbing up against you
Getty Images

What you think it means: I like you.

What else it can mean: “It’s also as a way to leave their scent behind,” Koski says. “The most common way a cat will rub up against somebody is with their cheek. This deposits those facial pheromones that are often used in marking territory.”

Dog Barking

 
Dog Barking
Getty Images

What you think it means: Someone is invading my space.

What else it can mean: “Barking can be, ‘Oh, I’m so excited to see you,’ ” Goldman says. “But it also can mean, ‘Keep your distance. I’m very territorial. Don’t come any closer.’ 

Dog rolling over

 
Dog rolling over
Getty Images

What you think it means: I’m feeling lazy.

What else it can mean: “If a dog is rolling over and exposing their belly to a person that they’re comfortable with, they’re probably asking for affection,” Case says. It could also be a sign of submission. “If a dog does that to a person they don’t know, I’m going to assume that dog is trying to show me, ‘Look how small I am. Please don’t hurt me.’  ”​


Dog Age Calculator

Happy birthday dogI tend to compute dog age into human age by multiplying the dog's age by seven. But according to Dr Leslie Brooks, an advisor at Betterpet, different breeds require different calculations.

Betterpet has developed a free online tool that is a dog age calculator that allows users to enter a dog's age and see it converted to human years. Even more, the tool provides insights like average life expectancy, weight, and height for over 100 dog breeds. 

Unfortunately, many pet owners don't always know how old their dog actually is and how they should be caring for their furry friend. If pet parents know their dog's exact stage of life, they can make better decisions about their diet, nutrition, exercise, and health. That’s why my team decided to make a resource like this free and accessible to the public. 

Key takeaways about a dog's age

  • The 7:1 ratio is flawed —As it turns out, figuring your dog’s age is more complex than multiplying by seven. That old rule of thumb that one dog year equals seven human years is based on the notion that dogs live about 10 years and humans live to about 70.
  • There isn’t a perfect formula — A dog age calculator is a great way to get a better idea of your dog’s age in human years, but parents of rescue dogs may not know their pet’s birth date. There are other ways to estimate if you don’t know your dog’s age.
  • Small dogs typically live longer than big dogs — Dogs under 40 pounds aren’t as prone to conditions such as hip dysplasia that can limit their mobility and increase their risk for obesity and other health conditions.

So enjoy every moment with your fur baby and celebrate!


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!


Dog Portraits from a Long Time Ago

I never realized how often pets, especially dogs, are included in old family photographs from the early days of photography. Examples seen here in the Washington Post, add new meaning to how families lived in the early 19th century.

Anthony Cavo, a collector of of photographs just published a book called Immortal Love which  reminds us of the amazing traits that dogs possess that have made them such an important part of our history. These photographs give us a glimpse not only into the special relationships these people might have had with their dogs but also into what life might have been like with them at the time. Dogs worked hard for them, sometimes saved them but, more important, provided them with companionship and unconditional love.

Dog 1910

 

 


Dogs Can Smell Your Stress, Study Finds

As any dog owner will attest, dogs can seem eerily attuned to human behavior. When humans yell or pick a fight, dogs often respond with anger and fear. Similarly, people with sedentary lifestyle may have seemingly sedentary pets: a 2021 study found a correlation between dog obesity and human obesity.

Now, a new study sheds light on the peculiar ways that dogs seem to be able to pick up on human vibes. Specifically, researchers found that when you are stressed, your body produces a distinct odor — and our canine friends can smell it. Read the rest from Matthew Rozsa.


The Secret to Cat Longevity Revealed

A fascinating article from Atlas Obscura reveals some secrets of cat longevity.

Jake Perry is a cat man. Standing about 5-foot-7 and often clad in workman’s clothes, the 85-year-old Austin, Texas, plumber is also a father and husband. But anyone who’s met Perry will tell you—first and foremost, he’s a cat man.

Perry’s cats broke the Guinness World Record for oldest cat. Twice, actually: The first record, from 1998, was for a part Sphynx, part Devon Rex named Granpa Rexs Allen who made it to age 34; the second, from 2005, is for a mixed tabby named Creme Puff who lived to age 38. Since the 1980s, Perry has adopted and re-homed hundreds of cats, at his peak raising four dozen at once, showcasing the best and brightest in cat shows. According to Perry, it’s not just Granpa and Creme Puff who had unusually long lives: About a third of his cats, he says, lived to be at least 30 years old—about twice the average feline life span.

Jerry told me about his own cats, and what he believed were the keys to their unbelievably long lives.

First, there was their daily diet: on top of dry commercial cat food, a home-cooked breakfast of eggs, turkey bacon, broccoli, coffee with cream, and—every two days—about an eyedropper full of red wine to “circulate the arteries.” Then there was his effort to ensure the cats were sufficiently stimulated: a garage he’d converted into a home movie theater, with a working reel-to-reel projector and actual movie theater seats, where Perry screens nature documentaries exclusively for the cats (with previews, he added). Last, and perhaps most important, he swore that love and close, personal relationships helped his cats live longer. Perry adored his cats so much, he remembered each of their birthdays. (Bill Clinton was invited to Granpa’s 34th; the president sent a card with his regrets.)

The average life expectancy of pet cats in general increased from 11 years in 2002 to 12 years in 2012, according to records from Banfield Pet Hospital, a chain of more than 900 veterinary hospitals. Some of that change is associated with more people getting their pets spayed and neutered, says Lefebvre.

Neutering and the lowered testosterone levels that result from it have also been linked to increased life span in some species of birds, and even humans. (Some scientists believe that lower testosterone levels are the key reason women live longer than men.)

Of course, neutering can only increase cat longevity by so much. More than nine out of every 10 house cats in the United States are neutered, reports the ASPCA, and only a small portion of cats make it anywhere close to age 30. Using a human life span equivalency formula on the Cornell Feline Health Center’s website, 30 cat years translates to about 133 human years. By those measures, if 34-year-old Granpa were an actual human grandpa, he would have passed away at 149. Creme Puff, for the record, kept chugging until human-age 165. Surely, there must be something else at work here.