April 06, 2022
Major doesn’t have thumbs, but he’ll make life-saving phone calls if he needs to.
Marine veteran Terry McGlade was wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and suffers from seizures and PTSD. Major, his pitbull lab mix, is trained to help with both.
One Spring day in 2014, Terry collapsed in his backyard, and began seizing. Major called an audible, going way outside any formal training he’d received, and pulled McGlade’s phone out of his pocket.
Police dispatch received 10 calls before they sent an ambulance. Do you know how long McGlade must have been seizing for a dispatch to hang up 10 times?
Did you also know a dog stepping on your phone can call 911?
Again, nobody trained Major to use a phone, but he figured it out by watching his owner use it.
When paramedics arrived, Major was waiting to lead them from the curb to the backyard. McGlade is okay, and he has a new phone since his old one has bite marks.
Major now uses the old one to swipe through potential mates on dog dating app Boom Chickahuahua where his profile just says, "Stud."
A dog's instincts go unmatched.
February 10, 2022
Peanut has a sixth sense that was beaten into her.
She was rescued from a situation that led to her broken legs, ribs, and had chosen to eat carpet when she couldn’t find any food.
After months of healing in an animal shelter, a couple took her home and showed her the life she’d deserved to live the whole time. Everything was just right with Peanut’s world until a few months in.
One 32-degree morning at 11:00 am in Michigan, Peanut began barking wildly inside the house. She ran to the windows then to the kitchen to get mom, then out to the garage when mom wouldn’t take the hint.
Peanut’s dad took the hint and let her out. She bolted right away to the nearest ditch and continued barking. Dad followed.
When he came to the ditch, he looked down and immediately called the police. In the ditch lay a naked, 3-year-old girl crumpled into a ball. As it turned out, she’d run away from an abusive home that very morning.
The girl was brought back inside, wrapped in a sweatshirt, where the only word she kept repeating was “doggy.”
It’s unclear whether Peanut saw something suspicious from the window, or whether she just sensed a kindred spirit who was in need of the same help she’d needed months earlier. Either way Peanut is a hero, and the 3-year-old girl is now a healthy 8-year-old.
February 03, 2022
February 03, 2022
Thinking about getting a second dog? Or maybe you have a friend looking for their first puppy. Either way, before signing the papers with the incredible breeder you found based only on the color of the splotch on his left eye, it’s worth mentioning that this type of companionship can last 16 years. Shooting from the hip might not be the best method of picking your next dog.
The Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test is an extensive and comprehensive method by which to test connection and temperament. This series of 10 experiments has been developed since the 1930’s, and has been used since by professionals to choose the pick of the litter. The instructions are long, but these 20-30 minutes could be the difference between 16 years of struggle and 16 years of unadulterated unity.
If you or anyone you know is in the market for a new puppy, use this method to pick it out.
Make sure your scorer is paying close attention to reactions of the puppy as you go. Subtle cues are at the heart of these experiments. Here is your scoring rubric. Print it out before going to see the puppy, or make sure your scorer can access it on their phone.
To evaluate the scores, do not take averages or sums, we’re just looking for “mostly’s.” According to Volhard, this is how to analyze the results of your experiments:
Mostly 1’s -
Strong desire to be pack leader and is not shy about bucking for a promotion. Has a predisposition to be aggressive to people and other dogs and will bite. Should only be placed into a very experienced home where the dog will be trained and worked on a regular basis.Top Dog Tips: Stay away from the puppy with a lot of 1’s or 2’s. It has lots of leadership aspirations and may be difficult to manage. This puppy needs an experienced home. Not good with children.
Mostly 2’s -
Also has leadership aspirations. May be hard to manage and has the capacity to bite. Has lots of self-confidence. Should not be placed into an inexperienced home. Too unruly to be good with children and elderly people, or other animals. Needs a strict schedule, loads of exercise and lots of training. Has the potential to be a great show dog with someone who understands dog behavior.
Mostly 3’s -
Can be a high-energy dog and may need lots of exercise. Good with people and other animals. Can be a bit of a handful to live with. Needs training, does very well at it and learns quickly. Great dog for second time owner.
Mostly 4’s -
The kind of dog that makes the perfect pet. Best choice for the first time owner. Rarely will buck for a promotion in the family. Easy to train, and rather quiet. Good with elderly people, children, although may need protection from the children. Choose this pup, take it to obedience classes, and you’ll be the star, without having to do too much work! Tidbits: The puppy with mostly 3’s and 4’s can be quite a handful, but should be good with children and does well with training. Energy needs to be dispersed with plenty of exercise.
Mostly 5’s -
Fearful, shy and needs special handling. Will run away at the slightest stress in its life. Strange people, strange places, different floor or ground surfaces may upset it. Often afraid of loud noises and terrified of thunder storms. When you greet it upon your return, may submissively urinate. Needs a very special home where the environment doesn’t change too much and where there are no children. Best for a quiet, elderly couple. If cornered and cannot get away, has a tendency to bite.
Mostly 6’s -
So independent that he doesn’t need you or other people. Doesn’t care if he is trained or not - he is his own person Unlikely to bond to you, since he doesn’t need you. A great guard dog for gas stations! Do not take this puppy and think you can change him into a lovable bundle - you can’t, so leave well enough alone.
You’ll walk into a litter of puppies, one of them will run up to you and start licking you, and you will think, “This has to be it.” As powerful as these emotions are, today, use logic. There are years and years ahead of you bound to be full of positive emotions like these if you pick the right puppy for you.
February 03, 2022
If you’ve ever run a mountain trail - or let’s face it - even let your dog off-leash during a walk, she probably makes you look like Newman from Seinfeld racing Usain Bolt.
I once strapped my GPS watch to Luna’s collar during an 8-mile run. By the time I’d finished, she’d clocked a little over 13 miles, AND all at the pace she uses to chase deer (fast). I thought it was cool until I saw bloody paw marks on the floor, and watched her nap much longer than she had before. I was proud of her, but felt like a big dummy myself.
Dogs have twice as many legs as we do, but that doesn’t mean they’re meant to go twice as hard all the time - some will if you let them. Luna woke up with a limp the next morning, and still wanted to join me on my run. Instincts and love are stronger than pain for these creatures.
So how can you tell when your four-legged companion might need a recovery day?
Stiffness or Limping
Ignore the meatheads. Your dog does not need to be hobbling around in a cut-off tanktop to show she got in a good #legday. If she is hobbling, that’s a clear sign she went too hard during her last outing. Pay close attention to her. Is she pausing before jumping up into the car when she normally doesn’t hesitate? Is she walking more slowly up the stairs? Does she not want to bend all the way down to her food bowl? Give her a massage, and a few days of short, easy walks. She’s earned it. And try to avoid the same length of that particular activity again.
If your dog’s tail normally shoots to the ceiling when you say “walk,” and she instead comes begrudgingly to have her leash attached without enthusiasm, that’s your sign. If she isn’t giving the mailman quite as much hell as she normally does, that’s your sign. One day like this might just be a sign of a great, long day in the mountains, but let it happen too often and you’ll be dancing with injuries, vet bills, and a sad pup.
Torn Paw Pads
One bleeding paw pad, and your dog can still get around. Two, and she’ll be pretty hard-pressed to move without being in a good amount of pain. Cutting or wearing through the paw pad is like you walking on a ruptured blister, only you can find ways of getting off your feet and still be productive. Luna isn’t so lucky. If the paw pad is cut or worn through, you may notice your dog licking her feet more than usual. If you’ve been running with her on cement (like fine-grit sandpaper to paw pads), transition to grass, then dirt for a week or two.
All in all, you want your best friend to join you on your escapades as much as possible. And she wants the same! Spread your exercise out. Don’t try to fit all your workouts into a couple days just because you have work off. Keep an eye on how she reacts after different exercise types and intervals, and keep track of the times when she goes over the top. Lastly, take breaks and days off when you notice any of the above. Your dog is tough, and she is wild, but it’s your job to make sure she stays that way.
February 03, 2022
You’re in the mountains, far away from home. Buck runs ahead on the trail, following his wild instincts to catch a moose. The trail winds, then splits. By the time you’re around the bend, Buck has chosen one path, and you have no idea which. Panic?
Did you know Buck has a GPS even without an Elon-Musk-type microchip? Dogs are imbued with two keen senses of direction: smell and ability to read magnetic fields. Whaaaat?!
In a test of dogs’ ability, cameras and GPS collars were strapped to 27 dogs from 10 different breeds. In Czech Republic forests, the dogs were set free after walking without a leash through the forest with their owners until they found prey. When the dogs ran, the owners stayed put. This was performed 622 times total with these 27 dogs. They were tracked, and filmed. Unsurprisingly, 60% of dogs used scent to find their way back to their owner.
But a third of them did something strange. They ran 65 feet in a line, always along the north/south axis, then ran back on a completely new route back to their owners. In other words, they didn’t use scent at all. Incredibly, they also returned to their owners significantly more quickly than the scenting dogs.
Researchers deemed these 65-foot lines “compass runs,” and guessed that those dogs were somehow able to orient themselves using the magnetic fields of the earth.
This isn't woowoo energy crystal stuff. In fact, it's not even that unique. Lobsters, eels, stingrays, honey bees, mole rats, newts, birds, fish like tuna and salmon, dolphins, and whales, even mud snails, and perhaps your mother-in-law use magnetic fields to find their way around the earth.
The next time Buck gets lost, stay put. He'll come back. He always does.
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