How Dogs React to Magic Tricks

dog magic darkuncleBy Linda Cole

“Object permanence” is a term created by Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget. It’s the ability to understand that an object continues to exist even if it disappears. It may be gone from view, but we know it still exits even though we can’t see, touch, smell or hear it. This concept is an important development of awareness that human babies learn at around 18-24 months.

Researchers have discovered that dogs also understand the concept of object permanence, and it occurs earlier in canines than it does in humans. Puppies can understand the concept as early as 5 weeks.  It’s easiest to see when you watch how dogs react to magic tricks.

Object permanence is not an ability that humans or dogs are born with. It’s a learned perception of awareness that comes from processing the existence of a stimulus while it is present. One summer a chipmunk set up an underground home inside my dog pen. I wasn’t aware of it, but noticed that my dog, Dozer, kept nosing around in one corner of the pen. It was obvious a smell had his interest, but he acted more curious than anything else. That is, until he caught sight of the chipmunk scurrying into his hole. Once he saw the critter disappear into the hole, his terrier heritage kicked in. Even though he couldn’t see the chipmunk, he knew it was in that hole. I’m sure it was Dozer’s persistent digging that caused the chipmunk to move his home to a safer location.

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What Do Dreams about Cats Mean?

dreams_torbakhopper revBy Julia Williams

I’ve long been fascinated by dreams, and even underwent a serious attempt at dream analysis years ago. I read countless books on dream interpretation and dream symbols. Each morning, I recorded what I could recall of my dreams, not an easy feat considering that most dreams evaporate quickly upon waking. (A tape recorder saves valuable time and is less jarring than reaching for a pen and paper and turning on the light to write).

What I eventually realized is that I could spend my entire life studying these nocturnal visions, and still not understand what they were trying to tell me. Do I believe that my dreams are an attempt to transfer valuable information from my subconscious to my conscious mind? Yes. Would understanding the messages help in my waking life? Yes again…but decoding the messages is the hard part.

The biggest problem with dream analysis is that it’s so subjective. There is no “one size fits all” interpretation, unfortunately. Dream symbols can mean different things to men versus women; symbols can also mean different things depending upon how you personally feel about them in your waking life. Adding to the difficulty is that dream symbols can have multiple supposed meanings. Whose interpretation is correct? It’s impossible to say. Nevertheless, I will offer here some interpretations about cats in dreams, mostly for your entertainment.

Cat Symbolism in Dreams

Some say that cats in dreams are a symbol for your intuition, and that the health of the cat indicates whether you are heeding or ignoring your intuition. A dream about a sick cat, then, might mean that you need to listen to your intuition more and rely less on intellect.

Other interpretations claim that cats in dreams symbolize femininity, softness, an independent spirit, creativity, power, misfortune, vulnerability, bad luck, deceit and falseness (see what I mean about multiple supposed meanings?).

dream_denise_chan revAn aggressive cat might suggest difficulty with the feminine aspect of yourself. Being afraid of the dream cat implies there is some fear associated with your femininity. A dream feline may be a symbol for someone in your life who is “catty” or malicious. Being scratched by a cat in a dream suggests that you feel threatened.

Dreaming that you cannot find your cat is a metaphor for your independent spirit, and that you feel someone or something is holding you back from being free. Saving a dream cat’s life suggests that you are reclaiming your independence and power.

To see a frisky cat playing in your dream suggests a need to be more carefree and playful in your own life. Cats in your dream can reflect your need to feel loved, or your fear that you’re being untrue to others so they will love you. A house full of cats in a dream represents excessive illusions or things that you believe to be untrue.

Dreams about a wild cat may indicate that a neighbor could be dangerous or that you will have some sort of dispute with them. Dreaming about fighting with a cat could be a warning that you’ll be robbed or cheated in some way, whereas cuddling with a cat in a dream suggests that your enemies can be “tamed.” A cat biting you in a dream symbolizes the loss of something, typically relating to those closest to you.

Dreams about Kittens

Although adult cats are usually associated with independence and self-reliance, kittens are seen as helpless beings. Dreaming about kittens, then, could indicate that you are feeling vulnerable, scared or need help.

dreams_Lucie revWomen Dreaming of Cats

When women dream about cats, the felines are thought to be a symbol of how she views herself. This includes not only her physical body but also her intuition, independence, creativity and her relationships with men.

Men Dreaming of Cats

When a man dreams about cats, the felines are said to symbolize his attitude towards women, or how he thinks women perceive him. A purring cat means the man thinks women find him attractive and he feels comfortable around women. A hissing cat suggests that he feels rejected by women or that there are problems in his relationship.

Have you had any intriguing dreams about cats lately? Now that you know a little something about the symbolism of cats in dreams, you can start to analyze what wisdom these wise felines might be trying to impart.

Top photo by torbakhopper/Flickr
Middle photo by Denise Chan/Flickr
Bottom photo by Lucie Provencher/Flickr

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The Five Most Common Injuries in Dogs

dog_injuries_siniBy Linda Cole

Dogs love chasing each other, playing fetch or racing around at full speed, twisting and turning as they run. Play is a good way for dogs to get rid of excess energy, but it’s also how they can pick up an injury. Some of the most common injuries can sideline your pet, or at least slow him down a bit.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissues are the tendons, muscles and ligaments. Common soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains. Dogs can slip on snow or ice or step in a hole while running. Quick turns or stops, leaping or jumping off or over something can pull a muscle, stretch a tendon or tear a ligament. Just jumping off the couch or bed can cause an injury. We may think of dogs as being athletic and surefooted, but accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Whenever your dog is racing around the yard chasing a ball or another dog, or training for a dog sport, there’s always the potential for a soft tissue injury.

If you notice your pet limping, that’s a sure sign something is wrong. It could be nothing more than a rock caught between his toes or paw pads, but it could also be a soft tissue injury. If you’ve checked his feet and don’t find any cuts or anything else that could be causing him to limp, it’s best to have your vet check him out. Many strains and sprains are minor and can be cared for by limiting his activity, but some can be serious and require medical attention.

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What it Means When a Dog Has “That Guilty Look”

guilty iconoclast resizedBy Langley Cornwell

Most people who share their lives with dogs know what I mean when I say “that guilty look.” It’s the look your pet takes on when you come home to a tipped over kitchen garbage can, with the inedible remains of last night’s dinner scattered all over the floor.

When you arrive, your dog will likely greet you at the door with his head hanging low, his ears pinned back, and his eyes wide open, looking up at you. His tail may be low and wagging slowly or tucked under his behind. He may even be crouching slightly. This posture is different from his usual enthusiastic, jovial greeting that involves slobbery kisses from him and CANIDAE Pure Heaven Biscuits from you. You know, just by looking at your dog, that he feels guilty for digging through the trash, even though you know you should have wrapped up those chicken bones before throwing them into the garbage can.

Well, here’s a news flash: “that guilty look” is not what you think it is. In fact, your dog does not know he’s done anything wrong, especially if you didn’t catch him in the act, so as far as he’s concerned he doesn’t have anything to feel guilty about. And it’s time to clear up another common assumption people mistakenly make about dog behavior: dogs never do anything bad to “get back” at their owner. Your dog did not dig through the garbage because he was mad at you for leaving him at home.

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Baily, the Baja Horse Ranch Dog

Baily 3By Laurie Darroch

Baily the Baja Horse Ranch Dog was born in a home in Brentwood, California, a suburb of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a far cry from her current residence on a growing desert horse ranch near the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

When my friend Lynn adopted Baily as a small puppy, it was obvious this Australian Shepherd/Queensland Heeler mix was a different kind of dog, meant for a very special active life. She was meant to be a working dog. Beginning at six weeks old, her owner began training the energetic dog.

Baily is not a dog who likes solitude. She needs to be with her people and her animals. From the beginning she went to work with her human companions and was rarely left alone. The high energy and highly intelligent dog needs something to do to keep all that energy focused in a productive, healthy way.

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How to Use Environmental Enrichment to Benefit Your Pet

enviro-enrich-kona-gallagherBy Linda Cole

The best way to create behavioral problems is to keep an animal caged up inside a home or at a zoo with nothing exciting to occupy their time. Environmental enrichment grew from a need to give zoo animals a more interesting and stimulating place to live that would improve their mental attitude as well as their physical wellbeing. It’s a concept that can easily be used to benefit bored dogs and cats.

A regular routine is important for pets. They like knowing “what’s next.” However, adding different things into the mix periodically gives them something new to look forward to. We take vacations, go to the movies, entertain guests, read, listen to music, and find other activities to break up our normal routine. While many dog owners include their pet on getaways where dogs are allowed, cats are usually left at home. Enriching your pet’s environment is not that difficult to do, and well worth the time and effort when your pet is stimulated by new discoveries. Even dogs and cats like to do something different once in awhile.

I ran across a video of a dog listening to his owner playing a guitar. His tongue was hanging out of his mouth and he was grinning as he listened. But he was also bobbing his head to the music. As soon as the music stopped, the dog closed his mouth, stopped moving his head, and gave a look that said, “Why did you stop?” As soon as his owner began strumming, the dog bobbed his head and grinned to show his appreciation. Most pets enjoy listening to music, as long as it isn’t too loud. Some dogs and cats like to listen to the radio, which can enrich their environment.

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