News Bites: A Klepto, A Bummer, A Guess, & A Snitch

The Klepto

Dusty the cat has a thing for strangers’ bathing suits, and their shoes, and their gloves, and their toys, and their towels. This determined little dude has stolen about 600 things from neighbors over 3 years.  Watch the video to the end to see nighttime video of Dusty hauling in his loot.

The Bummer

Some depressing results from a recent poll of pet owners on their views on declawing cats and debarking dogs. The findings raise the question do we view cats & dogs differently when it comes to “nuisance-corrective surgeries?

  • 59% pet owners think declawing is ok
  • 55% cat owners think declawing is ok
  • 36% pet owners think declawing is wrong
  • 32% cat owners have had declawing done
  • 24% cat owners support a ban on declawing
  • 90% pet owners think debarking is wrong
  • 47% pet owners support a ban on debarking
  • 1% dog owners have had a dog debarked

Find out more about what really happens when a cat is declawed. And find out how a dog is debarked.

A Guess

The mind reels.  Stacey Champion, a woman in Minnesota, got her son in Georgia a puppy for his birthday.  So she put the puppy in a box, taped it up, and dropped the puppy off at the post office to go by Priority Mail. She told workers not to worry if the box made noises, it contained a toy robot.  Fortunately, robots don’t pant—when the box moved & fell off a counter, workers heard panting coming from the box & opened it to find Guess, the puppy.  So, a little boy in Georgia was saved from opening a present of a dead puppy.  Besides not having food, water, or air, Guess would have been put on a unpressurized cargo plane where he would have died in the -40F temperatures.  The cherry on top of this whole story, the woman wanted her money refunded and the dog back after he was discovered.

A Snitch

If you hide your drugs in a sock, don’t teach your dog to play tug of war with a sock. Joel Dobrin found this out the hard way.  When Dobrin realized he was going to be pulled over by police, he tried to hide the sock where he kept his stash.  Unfortunately for him, his dog interpreted this as an invitation to play.  The dog grabbed the sock, won the game of tug-of-war, and then he threw the sock out the window of the truck, where it was found by the police officer.  Woops!

A Look At Pill-Popping Pets

Here’s a great article on the complexities and ethics of diagnosing and treating psychological problems like separation anxiety, canine compulsive disorder, phobias, and rage in our pets. This isn’t light reading, but wow, is it interesting!

How have we gotten to the place that so many dogs are on medication for psychological issues? Probably because so many people want a dog that doesn’t act like a dog. Dogs bark, they’re social beings and miss their families, they get bored without something to do. Also, the unhealthy environment we live in full of stress, not enough time with loved ones, and short on inspiration is the same one our pets inhabit.

The experts interviewed in the article agree that there is no magic pill and that any medication will work better combined with behavior modification and training. Ian Dunbar, the well respected vet, animal behaviorist, & writer, thinks drugs should only be used in the absolute worst cases. He proposes that almost any problem can be solved with behavior modification through training and the underlying tenet of that training is to ignore the bad behavior and reward the good behavior. (Read more about this approach.) In fact, Dunbar is working on an interactive treat dispenser that will monitor behavior in dogs home alone and reward calm behavior, but will withhold treats when the dog is barking, for example.

The article also looks at the sticky questions of consciousness and emotion in animals. And what it means to diagnose and medicate animals whose reality we can’t really fully understand. It’s true, diagnosing psychological problems in humans is different than diagnosing our pets.

The article isn’t anti-drug and it does a good job of looking at the questions around this issue. It’s definitely worth checking out.