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 This Week From The Redbarn Studios

Animal Radio for May 15, 2021  

Pets Make You More Attractive
Dr. Helen Fisher, Kinsey Institute

Dr. Helen FisherDr. Helen Fisher is a Senior Research Fellow at the Kinsey Institute and the Chief Scientific Advisor at She's been studying the correlation between pets and dating. Dr. Fisher says, "Dogs are chick magnets!" Women find men with a dog to be more attractive. But interestingly, or not, this does not work in reverse. In fact, the 'cat lady' has a negative stigma.

Dr. Fisher states that a man with a dog is a very honest signal that they send. Women tend to feel that a man who has a dog is able to follow a schedule, is able to play with an individual and is reliable. If they have a dog, they've got to show up at a certain hour to feed the dog. If they go away for the weekend, they've got to make arrangements for the dog. You've got to take it to the veterinarian when it gets sick, etc. It's a real commitment. So it's a very honest signal fro mate choice that men send to women saying, "Listen, I'm not only here and I'm approachable, you've got an easy way to approach me, just come up and talk to my dog, but also that I'm a caring person, a nurturing person, a person who can take responsibility for a very vital living creature and follow the schedule and give it the love and the care that it needs."

The study was done on the dating and attraction between the sexes, but having a dog is also very useful in other ways like pan handling. Panhandlers that that have a dog with them seem to get more money. This might be because even though the panhandler doesn't have any money, they obviously have enough caring to take care of an animal. Perhaps people who give money to a panhandler hope that they're also giving it to the dog.

If women see a picture of a man with a cat and then a picture of a man with a dog, which is going to be the most appealing to them? Dr. Fisher states definitely the dog. She says that cats are not anywhere near as likely to be used as what is called the "social tool." This is because they don't always come when you call and they don't chase after a ball. You don't take them to the park and play with them. They're nowhere near as willing to be man's best friend. If you have a dog, you can take them to the park, you can play games with them, you can really show them off in all kinds of places. If you have a cat, you need to bring someone to your house, whereas you don't have to bring people to the house to show them a dog. You can walk the dog in many places and meet people on the street as you're walking along. So a dog is a much more efficient social tool for the pickup.

Dr. fisher states that it is very important to watch how somebody responds to your pet, because your pet is part of the family and if a new family member can't get along with your animals, there is going to be a problem.

Guy with a DogWhile it's been proven people with animals are more attractive to other people, is there anything that shows where you get your dog from makes a difference? For example, if you adopt instead of a going to a breeder, does that make you more attractive? Dr. Fisher explains that she hasn't studied that, but as an anthropologist, she thinks that the more altruistic signal you can send, the more effective the signal will be. So if you adopt an animal from the pound, it gives you some extra mate value.

So should you get a mutt or a purebred? Dr. Fisher tells us that some people are going to want a purebred, because they're in the business of showing animals. However, there are going to be different kinds of pet owners. There are going to be some that want to show them off and some that are going to want to save stray animals.

One thing that's very interesting is that when you interact with the dog, apparently it escalates an oxytocin activity in the brain and oxytocin is linked with feelings of attachment and calm. So the person who gets a dog or even a cat who's probably constantly stroking that animal, is going to probably also have a sort of a global feeling of calm.

An interesting fact that they found in their study at, was that men with a dog really attract women. But, women with a dog don't get quite the same response from men. Dr. Fisher thinks the reason for this is that for millions of years, women have really looked for a partner to help them raise their babies. A man with a dog is really a signal that he can take care of something that is more helpless and needs their care, whereas men, for millions of years, really needed a woman who could bare them healthy babies. They can do that by just looking at a woman and talking to a woman. They don't really need to see her with a dog. So dogs are much more effective as chick bait for men than for women.

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Dr. Debbie WhiteDizzy Old Dogs - Diagnosing Idiopathic Vestibular Disease -Dr. Debbie

I came running when I heard the crashing paw steps of my 12 year old Labrador, Magnum as he flopped and tumbled in a nervous frenzy. With head crooked to the right, Magnum's dizzy, wobbly movements resembled a carnival lover's exit from the tilt-a-whirl ride. His eyes darted back in forth in an uncontrollable movement. Many might assume Magnum suffered a stroke, and figured it was time to put the old guy to sleep. But fortunately there was hope - Magnum developed a typical case of Idiopathic Vestibular Disease.

What is Idiopathic Vestibular Disease?
Idiopathic Vestibular Disease, also known as Old Dog Vestibular Disease, is a condition commonly diagnosed in senior dogs, but also seen in cats. The term idiopathic basically means the cause is unknown. This condition affects the vestibular system and the pet's sense of balance, typically with a rapid onset of symptoms. In Magnum's case he literally was fine at the start of a television program, and was wobbly just one hour later.

Symptoms of Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome include a wobbly gait, head tilt, anxiety, panting, and an abnormal eye movement called nystagmus, a condition in which the eyes dart rapidly back-and-forth or up-and-down. In addition to mobility problems, the topsy-turvy sensation leads to nausea, vomiting, and an inability to eat or drink. Thankfully my sturdy stomached Labrador barely missed a meal during his bout.

The cause of idiopathic vestibular vestibular syndrome isn't completely known, but fortunately most dogs recovery from symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks. In some cases dogs may suffer from future bouts months to years later. Some dogs may retain a slight head tilt or unsteadiness at times.

What Can Be Done?
A veterinary examination is important to identify suspected cases of vestibular disease. Other possible causes of these symptoms could include an infectious or inflammatory condition, inner ear infection, cancer, or a brain vascular episode - a stroke-like episode. In order to rule out these potential causes, more detailed testing is needed and may include tests like a CT, MRI, and CSF tap.

Magnum With Head TiltThere isn't a cure for a vestibular episode, and some pets recover without any treatment. But other animals require supportive care including anti-nausea medications, intravenous fluid therapy, hand feeding, and physical assistance to walk and protect from household hazards.

Caring for a frightened, disoriented, wobbly, nauseated dog can be difficult. My 80 pound Labrador needed physical support to get up, walk outside and required hand feeding at times. He couldn't be left home alone without risk of injury. And because of all the hoisting, blocking collisions with furniture, and guiding away from the depths of the pool, I injured my back during his rehab time. The reality is that home care of a small or toy breed with vestibular disease is much easier than the physical demands of a assisting a large or giant breed dog.

Lessons Learned
I have seen many a patient come to my veterinary office for euthanasia after developing similar vestibular symptoms. Some pet owners assume that the severe symptoms and rapid onset mean that there is no hope and euthanasia is the only choice. I'll admit that vestibular symptoms are scary and affected pets are tough to care for at home, but if given the tincture of time, many senior dogs will eventually improve. Perhaps Magnum's story will help other pet owner's opt to pursue treatment or testing, and give time a chance to heal.

Four weeks later and Magnum is back to playing with toys and energetically bounding on walks. He still retains a slight head tilt to the right, his badge of courage as I see it. I'm thankful for his recovery and adore his charming, lovable tilted perspective of the world.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearMajor Pet Store Raided After Whistle Blower
Police and Animal Care and Control officers in Bellevue, Tennessee raided a national pet store chain location after getting a tip and photos concerning animal cruelty. That tip, along with the pictures, came from an employee at the store. After stopping by the PetSmart for a look, they took away six rodents including hamsters, mice and a guinea pig. The city's Animal Control Director said, "These small animals, whether they're reptiles, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, they suffer the same as do dogs and cats." The district attorney's office will decide whether any charges should be filed. PetSmart has released a statement saying, "We are always committed to putting the needs of the pets in our care first. We empower our store associates to do what's right for all pets, which includes instruction to have any sick animal immediately seen by a veterinarian if needed. There is no adverse effect on a store team that takes every step possible to care for pets."

Man Wearing Shirt with Dog's PictureWearable Pet Portraits
For pet lovers who have the cash to spare, they're spending a lot of money at a New York City Soho boutique to have their pet's likeness embroidered on shirts, sweaters, bags, hoodies, anything that allows them to have a unique wearable pet portrait. The designs start at $500 and can cost upward of $1,000, depending on the size and extra embellishments. First, the artists make an illustration on a computer based on several photos of the pet. Then using embroidery software, they create a pattern. The whole process takes one to two weeks. When they're done, the customer also gets the sample embroidery that they can hang on their wall.

Canada Has Shortage of Pet Rentals
If you don't own a home and you have a pet, you know that finding a home to rent that accepts pet can be difficult. There's a poll of Canadians that's been done on that subject, because in Canada there's a housing shortage and it is notoriously difficult just to find a home, let alone one that allows pets. According to this poll, 64-percent of British Columbia respondents felt landlords should have the right to refuse to rent to pet owners compared to 36-percent who felt landlords should not be able to deny a tenant's pets. Of course opinions varied between homeowners and tenants. The majority of support comes from those who already own property, be it homeowners or landlords themselves. Seventy-six percent of landlords support their right to refuse to rent to pet owners and 70-percent of homeowners agree. However, it's not all bad for pet lovers who rent in Canada. Ontario is only province that doesn't allow landlords to prohibit renters from getting a pet once they've already moved in.

Museum For Weiner Dogs
A museum dedicated to the Dachshund, Germany's short-legged, long-bodied "Weiner Dog," is open in Bavaria, where locals are obsessed with the little dogs. The museum has more than 2,000 exhibits. Two proud doxie owners and former florists gave up their jobs to open the museum in Bavaria, which they say is the world's first. They built it from nothing in just three months. In the U.S. we tend to call them "weiner dogs," but in Germany they're known as "sausage dogs." It's one of Germany's oldest breeds and sausage dogs, or doxen's can be long, short or wire-haired and are one of the country's most popular dogs.

HawkAttack Raptor
Police in Connecticut have warned people to be on the lookout for an aggressive hawk that has attacked the back of at least one person's head. It happened in the Connecticut town of Fairfield. The state’s Department of Wildlife issued a warning saying they recommend that if you're going outside with small pets or children and you see a hawk, that you bring them inside so that they don't get attacked. This whole ordeal began when a woman was in her yard and the hawk approached her from behind and attacked her head. Police have also interviewed the woman’s neighbors, who said they have heard of other similar incidents in the area.

EarListen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1119)

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