Dogs Love Baby Talk, Study Says

Dear dog moms and dog dads, fret not. When your pup saves people from a house fire, learns a new trick that would make the family proud, or simply behaves like the good boy that he is, you are not delusional to spend a few minutes babying him. You don’t even need to get him a comfy armchair or mouth-watering treats, researchers at York University say that dogs appreciate baby talk or high-pitched “dog speak.”

“Obviously we know that dogs can’t learn to talk, so we wanted to know whether dog-speak also has a function for dogs, or whether it is simply something we tend to use with our pets in a culture where we think of dogs as part of the family, like fur-babies,” lead author Alex Benjamin told HuffPost […]

The researchers wanted to see if the dogs were interested in the high-pitched intonation used for them or if they were responding to the actual words said to them. After conducting speech tests with 69 adult ones, the research team discovered that dogs were most likely to engage with people who mix dog-directed speech (high-pitched tone) and dog-related content (“Who’s a good boy? You’re a good boy!”).

“I was a little surprised that in the second experiment, neither content, nor prosody ― which [is] intonation of the voice ― was driving the dogs’ preference,” she said. “I think it is really interesting that our dogs are able to use both acoustic and content information to determine what speech might be meant for them.”

So next time, when somebody says that you’re just being a crazy dog mom or dad, give them the scientific basis of your adoration. Perhaps using baby talk could help you guys communicate, too.

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Italy Bans Using Animals In Traveling Circus Shows

Animal activists like Peter Lang don’t fight off wildfires for an entire sanctuary only to see its animals sold to circuses. To ensure that no wild or domesticated animal experiences abuse, Italy is banning wildlife shows in circus acts.

Jan Creamer, ADI (Animal Defenders International) President, said: “Traveling from place to place, week after week, using temporary collapsible cages and pens, circuses simply cannot provide for the needs of the animals.”

With over 2,000 animals forced to perform in 100 circuses, the aftermath of the ban will see a huge sigh of relief. Italy hopes to phase out elephants, bears, tigers, and lions (among others) within a year.

“The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a traveling circus – in terms of housing or being able to express normal behavior.”

Italy joins 40 other countries that have prohibited the use of animals in circuses. Perhaps I may be running out on a limb here, but just maybe will we see a vast improvement in wildlife communities.

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U.S. District Officials Ban Poison Traps In Colorado

Since the Chilean government snubbed a billion-dollar mining project to save endangered penguins, other executives have been following suit. To prevent accidental deaths, district officials in Colorado have placed a ban on cyanide traps.

“Today’s agreement is the latest step in ensuring the federal government and the state of Colorado follow the law and the best science in managing wildlife,”

The M-44 device is spring activated, shooting poison at potential farming predators. Though meant primarily for coyotes, the M-44 has injured an Idaho teen, also subsequently killing his dog. Known for its leniency with hunting measures, Colorado isn’t making an impression on activists. The ban marks its first steps towards respecting endangered wildlife populations.

“This agreement represents a sign of good faith moving forward to do the right thing when it comes to Colorado’s wildlife and ecosystems,” [said] Matthew Bishop with the Western Environmental Law Center.

In just 15 states, over 16,500 traps have been deployed. Since raccoon corpses aren’t really my thing (nor do I think they’re anyone else’s) the ban is doing us and nature a favor.

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Mali Brigade Is Protecting African Elephants

People like Lt. Col Faye Cuevas, a war-veteran-turned-conservationist, are exactly what wildlife warriors need. Africa, teeming with poachers and bearing the brunt of climate change, was especially up for change. To make up for Africa’s lack of resources, a Canadian team put up a brigade in Mali to protect its dwindling elephant population.

The brigade combines rangers and army forces, a necessary pairing for protecting wildlife in this hostile territory, regularly crisscrossed by offshoots of Al Qaeda and bandits.

Since launching the brigade in February, there have been no run-ins with poachers. Mali, normally plagued by other traffickers and petty bandits, has come a long way.

“The work,” Sergeant Sangare [of the brigade] said, “it is love.”

The brigade, led by the Wild Foundation and International Conservation Fund of Canada, is the first foreign helping hand Mali has received in some time. With locals expressing their dire need for basic necessities, the groups have also stepped in as community lifelines. It seems to me this act of selflessness is rarer than any ivory on the market.

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Firefighters Rescue Bears In Captivity At Restaurant

While Hollywood VIP Leonardo DiCaprio is looking out for lions, Armenian firefighters have other plans. After years of playing cat-and-mouse, the International Animal Rescue freed two captive bears used for entertainment at a Yerevan restaurant.

“Now the plight of these poor bears has come to light, I know IAR won’t turn its back on them. After years of misery and neglect, an end to the suffering can’t come soon enough.” [said patron Neil Morrissey.]

Bear buddies Dasha and Misha now reside in a mountain sanctuary (hopefully miles from their captors). According to the IAR, there are still some 80 captive and abused bears unaccounted for.

“Some have been living for years in small, barren cages, surviving only on scraps and filthy, stagnant water. Many bang their heads to relieve the boredom. It is ­heartbreaking. We are determined to bring it to an end.” [said IAR chief Alan Knight.]

While The Jungle Book may have us thinking bears are as friendly as the affectionate Baloo, they aren’t. Entertaining or not, these fascinating beasts belong only to one place — the wild.

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Women And Dogs Survive Five Months In Open Water

Without a doubt, dogs are resilient animals. Whether they have been lost for 9 months or trapped in a drain for 3 years, they will often persist. Now, dogs Zeus and Valentine may have set the record for surviving out at sea. Along with their humans Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, the team remained on their damaged sailboat for nearly five months.

“When I saw the gray boat on the edge of the horizon, my heart leapt because I knew we were about to be saved,” [said Appel.] “Because I honestly believed we were going to die within the next 24 hours.”

On a trip from Hawaii to Tahiti, the pair encountered a storm, which flooded their engine and destroyed their mast. Communication lines also took a hit, and distress signals went unnoticed. Moreover, the four sustained two shark attacks. After 98 days, the US Navy came to their rescue.

“I’m grateful for their service to our country,” Appel said in a Navy statement. “They saved our lives. The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the US Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.”

Who says only cats have nine lives?

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Massive Carnivorous Dinosaur Discovered In Africa

The latter half of 2017 has been all about milestones for our Jurassic ancestors. Casual hikers discovered a Stegomastodon fossil, while the world’s largest dinosaur finally earned its nickname. If you thought things couldn’t get more exciting, you might want to take a trip down to southern Africa. Scientists have just unearthed evidence of an enormous meat-eating dinosaur — and it’s almost the size of T-Rex.

Several three-toed footprints left by the two-legged “megatheropod”… were found near the site of a prehistoric watering hole or river bank in the kingdom of Lesotho.

Experts calculated that the creature would have been around nine metres (30ft) long and stood almost three metres (9.8ft) tall at the hip.

Theropods from the Jurassic period were relatively small — roughly the length of a crocodile — making Kayentapus ambrokholohali quite the celebrity. Thrilled paleontologists also located other footprints, making this discovery one of the greatest of the century.

“This makes it a significant find. Globally, these large tracks are very rare. There is only one other known site similar in age and sized tracks, which is in Poland.”

While it’s good to know such fascinating animals existed, I’m not too upset they’re extinct.

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Family Dog Protects Owners From Rattlesnake

Without words to express themselves, dogs rely on actions to demonstrate loyalty to their humans. A London dog rescued his entire family from a house fire and was awarded a PSDA Gold Medal. While there are no official honors for Nala the Boxer, she is still a hero to her family, whom she protected from a rattlesnake.

“She waited until we were safe. She stood her ground. She didn’t like whimper or anything when she got bit,” [said 10-year-old owner] Cole [Lewis.]

The perpetrating snake was a Mojave green, a highly poisonous reptile. Thanks to Lewis’ stepdad, the Boxer made it to the nearest veterinary clinic in time to fully recover. Nala’s skyrocketing medical bill did little to faze the family, who are eternally grateful for her sacrifice.

“She saved my life, and I just want to hang out with her now because she’s my hero,” Cole said.

Dogs and snakebites are nothing new, but it’s Fido’s continued heroism that never fails to warm my heart.

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Fashion Giant Gucci Imposing Fur Ban On All Products

“Trashion”, or trash fashion, is taking over as one of the biggest trends of the year. It isn’t only unique — it’s inspiring many to build sustainable closets. Taking the lead from smaller brands, fashion giants are beginning to shrink their carbon footprints. Italian fashion house Gucci promises to go fur-free by 2018.

[Marco] Bizzarri said: “Being socially responsible is one of Gucci’s core values, and we will continue to strive to do better for the environment and animals.”

The ban will eliminate the use of mink, coyote, raccoon, fox, and rabbit fur. The brand’s remaining fur items will be auctioned off. Proceeds will be donated to animal rights groups.

Gucci will become part of the Fur Free Alliance – an international group of organizations which campaigns on animal welfare and promotes alternatives to fur in the fashion industry.

Imaginably, leaders of the global fur trade are appalled by the decision, claiming that “fur is the most natural fashion item.” Unfortunately for them, Gucci is realizing that being sustainable is a tad more vogue.

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Therapy Dogs Are Helping Kids Learn To Read

Over the past few years, therapy dogs have improved the lives of the handicapped. They’ve eased the pain of those suffering from PTSD and even helped baby cheetahs improve their social skills. In another attempt to aid those in need, dogs from Tail Waggin’ Tutors are helping children with anxiety learn to read.

The new “dog-friendly” atmosphere makes use of the same principles used with therapy dogs… It relaxes the child and allows them to focus on reading instead of waiting for… feedback. Patting or petting the attentive dog also helps put the child at ease.

If cute puppy videos are helping the entire population of Facebook get over Monday blues, these dogs must be doing wonders. Fortunately, the dogs cater to children anywhere in the world, as the program is international. And for the most part, it seems to be working.

“When [people] ask why the kids read to a dog, I say, because a dog is not going to correct them,” said Shilo Perlman, a library assistant in youth services. “We’ve heard from many parents who will say, ‘You know, my child will not read at home, won’t pick up a book. She’s afraid she’s going to make mistakes. But she will read to the dog.’”

Looks like man’s best friend may also be man’s top educator!

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