Posts filed under ‘dogs’

An End to Animal Testing May Be In Sight

Very promising news just came across my desk. University of California at Berkeley researchers have just announced the invention of a new biochip that may signal the beginning of the end of animal testing for chemicals and cosmetics.

The chip is a suspension of more than a thousand human cell cultures in a three-dimensional gel on a standard microscope slide. Each cell culture is capable of assessing the toxicity of a different chemical, according to the researchers. Organ cells, such as from the lungs and heart, may also be added, so that the chip could test for any part of the body, potentially, and not just the skin. That suggests future drugs, shampoos, and all sorts of other products may qualify for biochip testing instead of trials on animals, which still take place.

Over the years I’ve heard both sides of the animal testing argument. Some chemists argue that “natural” chemicals are just as dangerous as man-made ones, so untested natural products pose risks too. Animal researchers also point to human benefits from their work, and often explain that they must follow rigid guidelines when they conduct their chemical trials. There is no question in my mind, however, that animals feel pain and stress in ways that are akin to human suffering. More and more studies are providing proof, such as by demonstrating that chemicals associated with stress in humans show up in non-human animals too. The biochip could put an end to the entire debate.

A tremendous added bonus is that, in future, you would be able to donate your own cells (presumably through a blood test or minimally invasive procedure) for a biochip of your own. That way you’d know exactly which types of medicines or products to avoid, or to use. You would be your own guinea pig, and be none the worse for wear.

In the meantime, for a list of companies that do not conduct animal testing, please click on the appropriate link below to download a list!!!

Companies That Do/That Don’t Test on Animals

Companies That Don’t Test on Animals (PDF Format | Word Format)

Companies That Do Test on Animals (PDF Format | Word Format)

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December 28, 2007 at 1:32 am 1 comment

Clever Animals How and Why

Homing PigeonHoming Pigeons

Homing pigeons owe their name to the ability to return home from distant, unfamiliar release points — in some cases, even if they’ve been transported, anaesthetised and deprived of all information about the journey. They were used to carry messages in both ancient Greece and China, and by the 16th century were being used in formal postal services. In 1860, Paul Reuter employed a fleet of 45 to deliver news and stock prices between Brussels and Aachen. Only in 2002 did India’s police force retire its pigeon messenger service, when it was made redundant by e-mail. Homing pigeons have proved especially useful during times of war. One bird, “Cher Ami”, was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his heroic service during the First World War in delivering 12 important messages, despite sustaining a bullet wound. Equally amazing, but for different reasons, is the unfortunate bird that set off from Pembrokeshire in June 1953. It returned, dead, in a box postmarked “Brazil”, 11 years later.

DolphinDolphins

Viewers of Flipper do not need to be told that dolphins are cleverer than most inhabitants of the sea. Whether he was upholding the law, or embarking on a daring sea rescue, the iconic TV hero’s brainpower never failed to amaze. Even without television trickery, dolphins are smart. The latest evidence of intelligence came this week, when researchers published the results of a study in the Brazilian Amazon which showed male members of pods carrying “gifts” in the form of sticks, or, most endearingly, makeshift bouquets made from seaweed, to attract mates. DNA tests revealed that the males who carried the most gifts proved the most successful fathers. Research in Australia showed bottlenose dolphins use bits of marine sponge to protect their noses while they probe the seabed. Scientists say the behaviour is evidence that they show signs of culture learned from their forebears, rather than passed down in genes.

Honey BeeBees

While they may not yet have developed the power of speech, as exhibited in the upcoming Jerry Seinfeld film, Bee Movie, and are all too easily snared by beer traps in summer, bees are unexpectedly clever insects. As early as 330BC, Aristotle described the remarkable “waggle dance” bees use to communicate with members of the hive. It was originally thought the dance was designed simply to attract attention, but in 1947, Karl von Frisch, who was later awarded a Nobel Prize for his work, deduced that the apparently random runs and turns of the dance, which bees perform in groups, correlates directly to the position of the sun in relation to the location of food. If a bee runs from the six to 12 o’clock positions, it means food is in the direction of the sun. The number of waggles dictates how far away the food lies.

smart dogDogs

Most dog owners will claim their pooch is the smartest in the park. But retrieving sticks or barking at postmen, while impressive when compared with the skills of, say, a jellyfish, is hardly rocket science. However, new research suggests mutts are capable of much more: in an experiment at the University of Vienna, two border collies, an Australian shepherd and a mongrel were presented with images on a touch screen. The pairs of photos offered the choice of a landscape or a dog. When the dogs used their nose to push against the dog image, they got a treat. If they plumped for the landscape, they were forced to wait a few seconds before the next round. The training stage complete, the dogs were shown landscape and dog photos, and continued to correctly pick out the dogs. In the final phase, the dogs were shown an unfamiliar dog superimposed on a landscape they had seen in training. Even then, the animals were able to pick out the dog. Scientists say the results show that dogs can use abstract concept, a skill which had been attributed only to birds and primates.

leatherback turtleLeatherback turtle

The 65 million-year-old leatherback turtle has witnessed the fall of the dinosaurs and the rise of humanity. But the giant sea creature is most extraordinary for its ability to travel huge distances, from the cold waters in which it feeds to the tropical and subtropical beaches where it hatches its eggs. Female turtles originally tagged in French Guiana off the coast of South America have been recaptured on the other side of the ocean in Morocco and Spain. In 2006, the so-called “Dingle turtle” made headlines after being tagged off the west coast of Ireland and embarking on an astonishing 5,000-mile journey to the Cape Verde islands, off West Africa. Leatherbacks are found from Alaska to New Zealand.

ham the chimpChimps

Everyone knows man’s closest living relative is the sharpest tool in the animal box. After all, what other animal can brew up a cup of PG Tips while wearing a bowler hat? This week, however, the publication Current Biology has shed new light on the brain power of chimpanzees, revealing them to have photographic memories far superior to our own. Until now, it was not thought chimps could match humans in mental tests. But researchers in Kyoto discovered that chimps could recall a sequence of numbers displayed to them (for a fraction of a second), outperforming students who took the same test. The research suggests that short-term memory may have been more important to earlier humans, possibly because of our modern reliance on language-based memory skills.

humpback whaleHumpback whales

Whale song, which is associated in particular with the humpback, is something of a mystery to scientists. Male humpbacks sing mainly during the mating season, but it is not known whether the song is used to attract females or to ward off other males. The song itself is complex. At any one moment, all the males in a population sing the same song. Over time the song slowly evolves into something new, with all the whales making exactly the same changes to their pattern of singing. Studies suggest that, once a population of whales has moved on from a particular pattern, it will never again return. Other whales such as the sperm and beluga also make songs but none are as complex as that of the humpback.

elephantElephants

The old adage that elephants never forget was proved to have a basis in scientific fact in 2001, when research showed that matriarchs, who lead the herd, have an uncanny ability to remember faces. This enables them to know when alert their brood to menacing interlopers. Now, scientists at the University of St Andrews have shown that pachyderms are even smarter than that: a study of 36 family groups in Kenya suggests that elephants can build a mental map of where herd members are by combining their memory with a keen sense of smell. Researchers lay urine samples from wild elephants in the path of a herd. When the leader encountered the scent, it reacted with surprise because its memory told it the animal was walking behind, and could not have been able to lay its scent ahead.

artic ternThe Arctic tern

Even more prone to wander than the leatherback turtle, the Arctic tern takes the longest regular migration of any known animal, from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back again every year. On this journey of about 22,000 miles, the seabird enjoys two summers and more daylight than any other creature on the planet. One chick demonstrated its flying ability by setting out from Labrador, Canada, in July 1928 to arrive in South Africa four months later. Another unfledged chick tagged on the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, in 1982 flew 14,000 miles to Melbourne, Australia, in just three months. Over its life, the Arctic tern will travel about 500,000 miles.
Ants

They might be famous for their brawn — ants can carry up to 20 times their body weight, the equivalent of a woman strapping a hippo to her back — but ants are not renowned for brains. When it comes to delegation, however, they’re smart. Males cannot claim much credit for this — they spend their days wandering around accepting food until they mate, when they promptly die — but worker ants, who are generally sterile females, are clever. They perform tasks such as foraging, defending, preparing food, construction and attending to the queen. The most dangerous task is foraging, so older, more expendable ants are given the job, while the younger ones wait on the queen.

crowsNew Caledonian Crows

The ability to fashion tools has always been held as uniquely primate, distinguishing us from (apparently) less intelligent creatures. But humans and apes are not alone in having tool-making skills. Crows amazed the science community in October when footage — recorded using tiny “crow-cams” on the tails of New Caledonian crows — showed the birds creating advanced implements. One crow was observed whittling twigs and leaves with its beak to fashion grabbers designed to retrieve grubs from the ground. The New Caledonian crows are the only known non-primate to create and use new tools.

orangutanOrang-utan

Chimps might be able to outwit Japanese university students in a test of photographic memory, and are traditionally considered to be second only to humans in the intelligence stakes, but research published earlier this year suggested that orang-utans were the smartest swingers in the ape world. Scientists from Harvard University studied orang-utans in Borneo and found them capable of tasks that chimps could only dream of, such as using leaves to make waterproof hats and roofs. They also gathered evidence that the orange-haired apes have developed a culture in which adults teach the young how to make tools. Viewers of David Attenborough’s documentaries will remember the astonishing film of an orang-utan climbing into a canoe and using a paddle.

excerpt from:
Animals Do the Cleverest Things
By Steve Connor, Independent UK
Posted on December 8, 2007, Printed on December 9, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/69933/

December 9, 2007 at 9:40 pm 27 comments

The Perfect Pooch for You

The Perfect Pooch for You

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

Sept. 26, 2007 — It may have been shocking to some when New York billionaire Leona Helmsley recently left a fortune to her Maltese dog, but the act is less surprising in light of new findings about the importance of the human/dog bond.

Relationships between people and their pets can be so strong, in fact, that in some cases they work better than partnerships between two people.

The new study — one of the first to apply methods used to analyze human relationships to human/dog pairs — also reveals clues as to what makes the best pooch-to-person match.

One surprising find is that a dog’s personality helps shape the relationship more than the person’s does.

Lead author Lisa Cavanaugh explained to Discovery News that “unlike human relationships, the partner’s personality — in our case the canine personality — contributes measurably to relationship satisfaction” while the person’s character seems to take a backseat.

Cavanaugh, a researcher at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, and her colleagues recruited dog owners from northeastern, southeastern and western parts of the United States to complete detailed questionnaires about themselves, their dogs, and their relationships with their dogs. The researchers then contacted recommended friends of participants to obtain their assessments.

The findings have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Business Research.

Two dog qualities usually predicted a successful match.

“A canine’s openness to new experience and agreeableness are the strongest predictors of relationship satisfaction,” explained Cavanaugh, who was surprised by that finding, since other studies suggest openness has little effect on satisfaction in close relationships.

She and her team suspect that “dogs’ generally trusting, non-judgmental, empathetic and curious nature enables them to blend into their owners’ family and home, and bring comfort and enjoyment into their lives.”

Another, somewhat surprising, find is that while people tend to dislike neuroticism in other people, they frequently like that quality in their dogs.

For example, co-author Hillary Leanord related a story about a prominent woman who recently dined with a U.S. senator. She brought along her dog, whom others commented was “crazy and somewhat anti-social.” The woman proudly called her dog “a true New Englander” who was not “insincerely nice” like someone from other parts of the country.

“In this case, the human owner seems to use the dog’s neuroticism to justify her own feelings and behavior,” Cavanaugh said. “Perhaps accepting and even celebrating the dog’s neuroticism is a way of accepting and celebrating herself.”

The researchers also noted that while human relationships often falter over time, thereby contributing less to a person’s overall well-being, human/dog bonds frequently strengthen over time.

Morris Holbrook, a professor of marketing at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, told Discovery News that the new research “is a very nice piece of work.”

“We ordinarily don’t think of personality assessments being applied in this manner,” he said.

Both Cavanaugh and Holbrook even suggest that some people might be more satisfied with their dog friendships than with their human ones.

“Dogs provide unconditional love,” explained Holbrook. “You could be the worst scoundrel in the world and everyone else may hate you, but a loyal dog will always love you.”

September 27, 2007 at 12:35 am 1 comment

Dogs sniff out puppy in bin bag

 

Brandy

Brandy’s leg was slightly injured from being tied up

A puppy is recovering after being found tied up in a bin bag under some bushes. The tan and white cross-breed was found by a member of the public walking their dogs in Branston Water Park, Lichfield Road, Burton, Staffordshire.

The pets began sniffing in some bushes and it was only when their owner investigated that the 12-14 week old puppy, now called Brandy, was found.

His back and front legs were tied together but RSPCA staff has described him as a “little fighter”.

Brandy was taken to a vets and is now in the care of the RSPCA at Burton Animal Centre.

‘Strong character’

He appeared to have a deformed leg but after resting he has totally recovered, the RSPCA said. Yvonne Asker, from the centre said: “Thank goodness that the dogs sniffed out Brandy when they did.

“He has such a strong character, he is not shy, nor is he underweight and I believe all these factors helped save him.

“He really is a little fighter. I believe a weaker dog, such as the runt of a litter, would not have survived.” The RSPCA is appealing for information about the incident.

August 17, 2007 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

Two nosed hound

Double-nosed dog not to be sniffed at

Xingu the double-nosed Andean Tiger Hound

Xingu is said to be intelligent and fond of salty biscuits


Explorer’s tale

Explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell has had close encounters with vampire bats and angry bees, but his latest brush has been with a rather odd dog. He spotted a rare breed of Double-Nosed Andean tiger hound, which has two noses, on a recent trip to Bolivia.The chairman of the Scientific Exploration Society said the dog, named Xingu, was “not terribly handsome”. He said: “This breed could be used for sniffing out mines or narcotics because they have an enhanced sense of smell.”

Colonel Blashford-Snell first encountered a Double-Nosed Andean tiger hound called Bella in 2005 when he was carrying out reconnaissance for this year’s expedition in the area near Ojaki. He told Radio 4’s Today programme: “While we were there, sitting by the fire one night, I saw an extraordinary-looking dog that appeared to have two noses.

“I was sober at the time, and then I remembered the story that the legendary explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett came back with in 1913 of seeing such strange dogs in the Amazon jungle.  “Nobody believed him, they laughed him out of court.”

He’s very intelligent and with a wonderful sense of smell, as you might think

John Blashford-Snel

The dog seen two years ago was Bella, and on a second trip to the area, which began in May and has just ended, the explorer discovered her son Xingu in the village of Ojaki. He had just produced a litter of puppies with a bitch that had a single nose. Two of their offspring had double noses, and two had the normal quantity, but the double-nosed pups died after three days. A veterinary expert with the group examined Xingu to see if he had a cleft palate, but this was not the case.

“There is a chance that these dogs came from a breed with double noses that’s known in Spain as Pachon Navarro, which were hunting dogs at the time of the Conquistadors,” said Colonel Blashford-Snell.

“I think it’s highly likely some of these were taken to South America and they continued to breed. They’re good hunting dogs.”

Bella the double-nosed Andean Tiger Hound

Bella is Xingu’s mother and was spotted on an expedition in 200

He added that Xingu was “quite an aggressive little chap” who stood about 16 inches in height and loved salt biscuits but “wasn’t a terribly handsome dog”. Xingu’s best friend is apparently a wild pig called Gregory, and the two animals “rule the roost” in their village. Other dogs snarl at Xingu, because they can sense he’s different. He’s the smallest dog there but he sees the other dogs off,” Colonel Blashford-Snell said.

“He’s very intelligent and with a wonderful sense of smell, as you might think.

“The Bolivian Army came and took DNA samples because they’re interested in the breed. He’s not the only dog like this, there are others in the area.”

The Scientific Exploration Society was in Bolivia to investigate a shallow crater about five miles in width.

According to Colonel Blashford-Snell, he has now found evidence that this was caused by a giant meteorite, which struck the Bolivian Amazon Basin up to 30,000 years ago.

He says he has found evidence of human habitation within 50 miles of the blast zone, and believes these people were wiped out as a result of the meteor’s impact.

The explorers also carried with them a church organ from Dorset as a gift to local Bolivians in order to secure their help with finding the meteorite.

August 17, 2007 at 6:28 pm Leave a comment


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