The Smallest Working Dog
The Guinness Book of World Records has awarded the official title of “World’s Smallest Working Dog” to Lucy, a 2 1/2 pound mini Yorkshire Terrier. She is a therapy dog with the Leashes of Love program in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and goes to visit rehabilitation centers, children with autism, and nursing homes. Lucy was headed for the shelter when she was rescued by her owner. She takes the title over from the previous record holder, an eight year old Chihuahua named Momo who is a search and rescue dog in Japan.
“DogCam” Gives New Vision to Search and Rescue
While dogs have long worked alongside search and rescue teams they will now be able to provide a unique vantage point. A British firm has developed a light weight camera and specially adapted harness known as “PAWS” which stands for Portable All-terrain Wireless System. The dogcams are meant to be used in rescue situations, to help find people trapped in collapsed buildings or to enter a space where their lighter weight will let them go where humans cannot. The technology has been developed by UK firm Wood & Douglas, and is being put into action by the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team which has attended disasters all over the world, including the aftermath of both the Japanese and New Zealand earthquakes.
Court Ruling Breaks New Ground in Moving Dogs Beyond “Property” Status
A Texas appellate court has ruled that state law entitles the family of a wrongfully euthanized dog to recover “sentimental” or “intrinsic” damages from a defendant for the loss of their pet. The law has traditionally valued pets only for their market value like furniture or a car, not as important to their owners’ lives in many ways. The lawsuit stems from a tragic situation where an escaped dog, picked up by animal control, was euthanized ahead of schedule despite instructions to hold him for the owner’s return. The ruling said “Dogs are unconditionally devoted to their owners. Today, we interpret timeworn supreme court law in light of subsequent court law to acknowledge that the special value of ‘man’s best friend’ should be protected.” But while this seems to be a move dog lovers can celebrate, many top pet-industry companies and associations are fighting this ruling. The American Veterinary Medical Association, American Kennel Club, and other groups say they fear that the liability from claims under this broader interpretation would open the door to lawsuits & escalating prices for pet service fees and veterinary care.
Study Shows Dogs Picking Up Human Intentions
A new report confirms what many dog lovers already know: your dog understands you. Published online in Current Biology, the study found that dogs who were spoken to or who had direct eye contact with a person were more likely to follow that person’s gaze as it moved across a room. “These results support the notion that dogs are sensitive to the cues signaling humans’ communicative intent in a way that is analogous to preverbal human infants,” said study author Jozsef Topal. Another recent study found that dogs were more likely to beg from someone who made eye contact compared to someone who did not. Dogs have the developmental abilities of a two-year-old child, with the average dog capable of learning the meanings of 165 words, according to the findings of canine-intelligence expert Stanley Coren. Eye-tracking techniques are also likely to be useful in studying other aspects of dogs’ cognitive processing, such as memory skills and reasoning abilities. “The [dog’s] gaze was only triggered when preceded by communicating intent. It does seem to be that dogs do look at humans and follow gestures,” said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton, MA. “This is intuitive to anyone who owns a dog, that dogs seem to be more in tune with us than some scientists believe.”