Dog Park Crazies

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dog-park

If you have ever been to a dog park, chances are you have met one … weirdos at the dog park.

Well the folks at Portlandia on the IFC made a hilarious spoof about them.

Watch their comedic interpretation of them here:

 

There are no crazy dogs; Just crazy dog people. 

Butt Sniffing 101

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“Hello! Do I know you? Have we met before?”

“Hey there! Do I know you?? Lemme smell to find out…”

Butt Sniffing.  It’s gross to most humans, but it’s very important to our canine comrades.

Derriere sniffing is just one of the many fascinating forms of chemical communication in the animal kingdom.  Animals all around the world use chemical communication to communicate.  Pheromones are the source of this communication!

Pheromones are chemicals released by living organisms that send information to other organisms of the same species via scent.  They’re used to scent mark, attract mates, claim territory, find prey, and identify other animals.  Pheromones can be released as alarms, food trails, sex lures, and much more.  Plants, vertebrates, and insects communicate in this chemosensory way.

Our dogs are just as sensitive to these pheromones, and they decipher them using a very cool method!  Like many reptiles and other mammals, dogs have a “scent collector “in the roof of their mouth that’s called a Jacobson’s Organ, or a vomeronasal organ. (Which, by the way, is absolutely one of the coolest tools in the animal kingdom.)  This organ is used by many species to send chemical scents directly to the brain.

Snakes use their Jacobson's Organ to detect pheromones in their environment, similarly to how dogs do!

Snakes, like many animals, use their Jacobson’s Organ to detect pheromones in their environment! Snakes are actually tasting the air when they stick out their tongues.

 

The Jacobson’s organ is useful in the process of communicating chemical messages between members of the same species. The organ helps snakes hunt and track their prey. Much evidence suggests that this organ may also be involved in the detection of chemical signals related to aggression and territoriality in some species.

 

Fun Fact:  Elephants touch the tips of their trunks to the Jacobson’s Organ (inside the roof of their mouth) to engage their chemosensory perception of things in their environment.  Lions use it for sensing sex hormones.

A great view of an elephant's Jacobson's Organ.  I have had the pleasure of an Asian elephant named Gene, letting me feel hers. They are so cool!

A great view of an elephant’s Jacobson’s Organ.  Elephants touch the tip of their trunk to this organ to discern scents in their environment.  I have had the pleasure being able to feel one of these organs, thanks to a very special Asian elephant named Gene.

 

This same organ recognizes chemicals as they enter a dog’s nose, via circular sniffs through each nostril. This organ then interprets the pheromones collected. It’s sensitive enough to not confuse fecal matter scent with pheromones.

Underside view of a dog's Jacobson's Organ

Underside view of a dog’s Jacobson’s Organ

 

According to the American Chemical Society, when dogs get their derriere sniffing on, it’s really all about one dog literally sniffing out important information about the other.  Find out why “Bacon is to people, as butt sniffing is to dogs” in the video below:


Fido Fact: An average dog’s nose is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s.


Our pooches have pouches called anal sacs.  These sacs are a pair of small, kidney-shaped structures on each side of the anus.  These sacs hold glands that secrete chemicals.  Every dog has a unique scent “signature” created by the secretions of its anal sacs.  This unique scent not only distinguishes one dog from another, but it also reveals the dog’s sex. Genetics and the state of their immune system can influence the aroma of these sacs.

All predators, whether they are canines or felines in the wild or skunks in your backyard, have anal glands. They just use them differently. . In dogs and cats, every time a stool is passed, it should put enough pressure on the anal glands that some of the secretion is deposited on the surface of the stool. Other dogs and cats are then able to tell who has been in the neighborhood, just by sniffing the stools they find. Additionally, dogs and cats recognize each other by smelling each other in the general area of the anus, since each animal's anal glands produce a unique scent.

When an animal passes a stool, it should put enough pressure on the anal glands so that some of the secretion is deposited on the surface of the stool. Other dogs are able to tell who has been in the ‘hood, just by sniffing the stools they find. Dogs can smell these anal sac scents when they are nose-to-rear as well.


Dogs (and cats) recognize each other by smelling one another in the general area of the anus, since each animal’s anal glands produce a unique scent.

Sniffing Butt

“oooh, what do you have going on?! Let me get a good whiff and find out!”

Sniffing another dog’s derriere is just another form of chemical communication. Think of this behavior as “speaking with chemicals”.  It’s how dogs learn about another dog’s diet, gender, and even their emotional state!

So the next time you see your dog getting a good whiff of another dog’s derriere, or another dog’s doody, let him/her get their sniff on.  It’s not gross; its purely instinctual and it’s a very effective form of communication between canines! Your dog will thank you for letting him/her Be a Dog.

 


 

References:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/286/5440/716

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK55973/

http://physrev.physiology.org/content/89/3/921

Life, Love, Death

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Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way. ~John Muir


In 2001 Robin Williams and Koko the Gorilla met each other. Koko instantly connected with Robin.

 


Koko, like us, can sense a person’s nature and in this case, she was quickly drawn to Robin’s warm heart. Robin made Koko smile — something she hadn’t done for over six months, ever since her childhood gorilla companion, Michael, passed away. – Dr. Penny Patterson, president of The Gorilla Foundation

Only Koko and Robin know what was discussed and felt during their brief time together, but we can see in the video that their time together was meaningful and poignant for each of them.

Not only did Robin cheer up Koko, the effect was mutual, and Robin seemed transformed — from a high-energy entertainer, into a mellow, sensitive, empathetic guy, who also happened to be really funny.

Just today, the Gorilla Foundation – where Koko lives – released a statement explaining that when Koko was informed of Robin William’s death, she remembered her friend and displayed sadness.  Robin and Koko may have had a brief encounter, but they clearly formed a friendship that touched Koko.  I’d like to believe that Koko touched his heart as well.

My wish is that you have these kind of powerful, unforgettable moments with the animals in your home during the many stages of life, love, and death.

Now people all around the world are mourning the death of Robin Williams in their own way.  Many have been deeply saddened by his sudden passing.  But no matter how you feel about the circumstances, we need to honor that we all suffer at times in life.  We understand what it means to hurt, and we understand what it feels like to want the pain to end.

My prayer is that Robin has found the peace he so longed for and deserved.  May he no longer feel pain, sadness, or despair.  May he be as joyful and as lighthearted as we see him in this video with Koko.  May his soul be at rest.  May he now know the joy, laughter, and Light that he brought to so many people all around the world through his work.

May we all continue to see him as happy and as carefree as he is in this video.  May we all remember that our animal companions can help to bring us back to our true state of being, which is love, joy, peace, and happiness.  May peace be with you and yours.

Robin, thank you for being a fearless and fabulous human.  Thank you for helping us to laugh, and thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.  You will be missed by many.  Namaste.

 You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to. – Robin Williams 

Inspirational quotes

We salute a beloved man today. A Genie, a teacher, a boy that never grew up, a nanny, an artist who could hug you with that warm smile and make you laugh till you cried.  He voiced many characters and was a voice for those who could not speak.  A family lost a loved one. Wherever he is, we hope he is at peace and free, just like the Genie he immortalized.  We will miss his sweet laugh and be grateful for all the joy he brought us.  Oh Captain, My Captain.  We will never forget you.  We salute you Robin Williams.    ~ Photo Lab Pet Photography