Commentaries

Holism Declines, Ecology Ascends

When those interested in animal health began talking about taking a more holistic approach, initially I was quite excited. I felt this way because I expected their approach to be, well, holistic. But…

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The Most Highly Contagious Disease

Suppose I told you that a disease so contagious existed that it could spread with remarkable speed from one person or animal to a thousand or more in a matter of minutes. Some humans can transmit it to some animals and some animals can transmit it to some people Even more frightening, this neuro-pathogen typically enters through the eye and disrupts retinal cells to gain access to the most ancient part of brain. Once there, it disrupts the autonomic nervous system which controls all those vital functions necessary for life. Symptoms associated with the disease include increased sweating or

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High-Tech Companion Animals

As our pets’ lives have become more high-tech, does this shift indicate a more intimate or a more remote relationship with them?

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Service Dog Devaluation

With each passing decade, the respect with which US society views service dogs and their handlers sadly steadily declines. This poses increased problems for these animals and their handlers and those around them.

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Waterboarding and the Bond

Waterboarding: a torture technique whereby individuals are treated in a manner that makes them believe they are going to drown. Surely, you may be thinking, this is not a suitable subject for the post-holiday season! Emotionally, I agree. On the other hand, you may be as surprised as I was to discover how many behavioral/training concepts directly or indirectly relate to water. This connection popped into my mind because two of these tend to raise their heads during the pre-holiday season and often linger into January, fueled by a human desire for quick results when animals have problems. First

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Endangered Holiday Gifts

Endangered Holiday Gifts No, this isn’t a commentary about gifts made from the hides or other body parts of endangered animals, or decorations, culinary delicacies, or cure-alls made from endangered plants. It’s about giving yourself and your loved ones of all species two gifts—or maybe just a taste of two gifts—far more endangered than that. Can you guess what they are? Some additional clues: December through mid-January people worldwide from diverse backgrounds will celebrate multiple holidays. As we have become a more global community traditions from one religion or group of people become incorporated into others to the enrichment

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Internal Clocks and the Diurnal Human-Animal Bond

We may tell ourselves that technology enables us to ignore our internal clocks and those of our diurnal animal companions. But as the cost of doing so mounts up, could becoming more in sync with those clocks be the better option?

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The Ethology of the Bond

This month I want to explore the ethology of the human-animal bond. In my pre-ethology days, I’m the first to admit that my views of the bond were shaped more by the media than science…

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The Importance of Ethology

As often happens, I stumbled upon material I wrote almost a decade ago while looking for something else. When I  stumbled on this, couldn’t help noticing how little has changed. One welcomes exception is that increasing numbers trainers and behavioral consultants recognize the difference between the animal behavior as traditionally perceived by psychologists that dominates training, and that perceived by those in the biological sciences. Although Konrad Lorenz suggested the  word ethology to reflect the study of the animals within their normal environments more than a half century ago, it didn’t enter the mainstream training/behavioral lexicon until relatively recently.

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Catching the Feline Drift

I saved cats for last in this series on instinctive drift in companion animals because they occupy a unique niche in the domesticated species line-up. That unique niche, in turn, owes its existence to behaviors that make cats anything but little dogs or fur-covered humanoids. Add that they’re the most recent addition to the self-domesticated/domesticated population and it’s no surprise that cats may drift more readily toward their deeply entrenched behaviors, some or many of which may confound any humans, canines, or members of other domestic species with whom the cats interact.

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