Can Dogs Really Understand Simple Math?

dogs count tanakBy Linda Cole

Skidboot was an extraordinary dog that entertained people everywhere he went as the World’s Smartest Dog. A crowd pleasing trick involved Skidboot listening to his owner, David Hartwig, count to three before retrieving a ball, but Hartwig mixed up the counting in an attempt to stump his dog. In the end, Skidboot eagerly focused on the ball and pounced on it when Hartwig said three. People were convinced the dog could count. Jim the Wonder Dog was also famous for his ability to recognize numbers, but can canines really understand simple math?

Quantitative thinking is something most people don’t believe dogs are capable of. It’s the concept of analyzing mathematical data in relation to quantity or number and having the ability to figure out if one thing is larger than another. One early experiment that researchers conducted was to see if dogs understood quantity. They used a large and small ball of hamburger, each on a separate plate, and tested dogs to see which one they would choose. When the plates were set at different distances, the dogs took the one closest to them regardless of its size, but when both plates were of equal distance they always chose the larger ball of meat.

Researchers concluded dogs didn’t understand quantitative thinking and couldn’t determine the difference in size. However, what they failed to account for is the opportunistic nature of canines and seemed to discount the fact that dogs picked the large ball of meat when the two plates were side by side.

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Xoloitzcuintli, One of the Oldest and Rarest Dog Breeds

xolo micyBy Langley Cornwell

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Unusual Cat Breeds. One of the breeds profiled was a hairless cat known as the Ukrainian Levkoy. While unusual, it’s not the only hairless breed in the feline family; there are several others including the Elf Cat, the Bambino, the Peterbald, the Donskoy and the Sphynx.

As unusual looking as hairless cats are, can you imagine what hairless dogs looks like? There is a dog breed called the Xoloitzcuintli, also known as the Mexican hairless that is – you guessed it – hairless. This is one of the oldest and rarest dog breeds in existence.

Background

Many modern dog breeds are the result of crossing two breeds or some other type of manipulation by human interference. Xoloitzcuintlis, on the other hand, are considered an original breed shaped by natural selection.

The word Xoloitzcuintli is a combination of the word Xolotl, the Aztec god of fire and the deity responsible for escorting the dead to the underworld, and itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog. You pronounce Xoloitzcuintli like this: show-low-eats-queen-tlee. The breed is also referred to as the Xolo (show-low).

These unusual looking dogs are thought of as “healing” dogs or “doctor” dogs because people with arthritis or other similar conditions find relief when they cuddle with a Xolo; apparently they give off intense body heat. I’ve even seen Xolo’s referred to as living hot water bottles. They are also said to have the magic of a healing touch, with special abilities to help people with things like rheumatism, asthma and even insomnia. Another otherworldly gift, they are said to have the power to frighten off evil spirits.
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Five Famous Cartoon Dogs

scooby jaredBy Laurie Darroch

Dogs have wended their way into the creative world of television and print cartoons over the decades. Their anthropomorphized personalities give them a connection with the human viewers while still maintaining their canine features. Although there are many, these chosen five have stood the test of time over cartoon history and become beloved dog icons. Their simple humor appeals to children and adults alike.

Scooby-Doo

Scooby-Doo was originally created for Hanna-Barbera productions for a show called Scooby-Doo, Where Are you! in 1969. The television show, written by Ken Spears and Joe Ruby, ran on CBS from 1969 until 1976. It went to ABC from there and ran from 1976 until 1986. It even had a spinoff show that ran for three years called A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. The big, clumsy, lovable cartoon dog managed to stick around through various shows and made his way into movie form in Scooby-Doo in 2002 and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed in 2004.

Cartoons take a while to become the characters we grow to know and love. Starting with a concept, they go through changes until the show goes live for the first time. After an uproar from parent watch groups concerned with the violence of Saturday morning cartoons, the challenge was put out to create cartoons that were child friendly. One of the creations was Scooby-Doo, who was originally going to be a sheepdog named Too Much. The teenaged human characters were based on characters in the television comedy show, The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis. Scooby-Doo’s name was inspired by a line in the Frank Sinatra song, Strangers in the Night.

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How to Tell if Your Pet is Irritated with You

pets irritated penny blankenshipBy Linda Cole

When my Siberian Husky Jake wanted to express his irritation, he’d turn his head away from me as if saying, “I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Then he’d follow up with some Woo Woo Woo’s to make it clear he was unhappy. My cat Meryl was quick to bond with me when he was a kitten. As far as he was concerned, I belonged to him, and if I hurt his feelings, he made it clear he was irritated. He sat with his back to me and ignored me for an hour or so. That was apparently how long it took for him to forgive me. Dogs and cats aren’t vindictive, but they do have ways of showing us when they are irritated.

The Cold Shoulder – This is a sure sign you have a dog or cat with hurt feelings, and it’s not hard to picture your pet sitting like an irritated human with his front legs crossed while tapping one of his back paws in disgust waiting for an apology. You can almost hear the “Don’t talk to me.” It’s a good thing dogs and cats don’t have opposable thumbs. You might get the cold shoulder, but you won’t get a door slammed in your face.

The Stiff Paw and Head Turn Rejection – I take this action as the ultimate “I am so irritated and do not want to cuddle, hand out kisses, or even look at you right now” sign. This is when an upset dog or cat holds out a stiffened leg and blocks you with a paw to keep you from getting too close when you try to be affectionate. In addition to the stiff paw, he turns his head away from you and the message is loud and clear: you have an irritated furry friend. One of my dogs, Keikei, will also give me a kick with her back leg just in case I missed the other two signs.
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Let’s Start a New Black Friday Trend!

black friday nikitaBy Julia Williams

For many people, Black Friday is all about shopping. People go a little crazy, even going so far as trampling and pummeling others, all in the name of getting a good deal on this, that or the other. Personally, I steer clear of all retail stores on Black Friday because the whole thing strikes me as madness. Yes, you can get Christmas gifts for a great price…but is it worth it? I guess it’s an individual decision.

In any event, today I am thinking not about Black Friday shopping but about a different black …all of the black cats and black dogs that are in animal shelters, waiting for someone to pick them so they can have the life and home they deserve.

black friday maja dumatHistorically, black pets have the hardest time getting adopted, for a variety of reasons. Some people believe the myth that black cats are bad luck. Others won’t adopt a black dog or cat because he’s not “colorful” enough or they don’t think a black pet has much personality because they can’t see his facial expressions as well as those with lighter colored faces.

I don’t get it. Judging a cat or a dog by the color of his fur? That’s more bizarre to me than the Black Friday shopping mayhem. I have two black cats – Mickey and Rocky – and if I had a negative bias toward black pets, I’d have missed out on being loved by two of the coolest cats I know. Their black fur is not very colorful, but their personalities? Now that’s an entirely different story!

The motto often used by shelters and rescue groups is “adopt, don’t shop!” It doesn’t have anything to do with Black Friday, but can you imagine what would happen black friday beverlyif every person who went out shopping today, went to an animal shelter instead and picked out a black pet for their family? Millions of wonderful animals would be “home” for Christmas, that’s what!

However you spend this day, I hope you stay safe and warm.

Top photo by Nikita/Flickr
Middle photo by Maja Dumat/Flickr
Bottom photo by Beverly Goodwin/Flickr

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Why We’re Thankful for Our Pets

Thanksgiving rochelleBy Julia Williams

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In the spirit of being thankful, CANIDAE has another fun photo contest going on right now. Just share a photo of your pet and why you are thankful for them, and you might win 6 months FREE pet food! For full details see the contest page on Facebook.

A few years back, the other RPO blog writers and I shared some of the reasons why we are thankful for our four legged friends, which you can read here. I personally make a point to verbally give thanks every day for my beloved cats, who are cherished members of my family. I express my gratitude each day that these amazing, loving and delightful beings chose me, and that they are all healthy, happy and safe.

Today, on the day when we gather with family and friends to share a feast and give thanks for our blessings, I wanted to share with you what some of my pet loving friends said when I asked them to fill in the following question: “I’m thankful for my pet because…”

Jeanne: I’m thankful for my pets because they always live in the moment and are wonderful companions.

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