Sunday, May 22, 2016

Biscuit After Surgery

Biscuit recovered from Surgery and went on to lead what I think is the best life we could have possibly given him. He had a terrible swish in his hind legs when he walked so we knew that if arthritis kicked in it wouldn't be pretty. No one ever knew for certain how old Biscuit was when he was rescued - the guesstimate was 8 or 9. But who knows? He was up there for sure though he still had loads of life in him. He loved, loved, loved to walk. He would take his leash off the hook and bring it to us. The first 2 years we had him, I lost my job so I was home for during that time trying to make a career of freelance writing. In that time, the bond Biscuit and I had was not something very easy to describe. It was different from Bali and Bella. I suppose a lot of it had to do with the horrible life he had before he got to us. He was fixated on me, definitely my dog. He loved us both but no doubt his loyalty was to me. Given his age, I knew we wouldn't have him for a long time. I tried to imagine life without him (I'm morbid that way) but I couldn't. Can you ever, really? Imagine it, I mean. Turns out we had him for 6 six years in all and the end was something I would rather forget if I could.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


The head of Rosie Animal Adoption told me that when Biscuit was rescued, it was from one of the worst and most notorious puppy mills in Quebec (more on Quebec puppy mills another time). That said, it was a government agency that intervened on the rescue and the case was so hush hush, that no information about Biscuit could be released as it was before the courts. All I was told was that Biscuit was in very bad shape when rescued - he was so fat he could hardly walk (either puppy mills free feed or barely feed at all I was told), he had ear mites, eye infections, his teeth were get the picture. It also seems as though he may have lived in someone's home as he knew all his basic commands for sit, down, stay...upon rescue, he was transported to a vet in the city of Lasalle, where he was cleaned up and neutered. When we picked him up from the couple fostering him and got him home, he attached himself right to me. It was clear he had never been on furniture as when invited up he didn't seem to know what to do. Didn't take him long to figure it out. There was something really weird though: he had a very large testicle that was hanging from his back end. It was never quite explained to us and I couldn't understand it since he had been neutered. We took him into to see our own vet and at the time, he had a student following him around the office. He took him aside to discuss the testicle but left it at that, so we left the vet's office and didn't think anything of it. I woke up Christmas morning to find Biscuit lying in the living room panting. He had also gone to the bathroom in the house - unusual given we were told and saw for ourselves how clean he was. The testicle was also really hot. I called my sister-in-law (hubby was working) to pick me up and take him to the 24 emergency vet. When we got there I called Rosie's and they said no matter what it is, they would pay for it and they would get there as quick as they could. When the vet examined him, I was told he was going into septic shock and that whoever neutered him had botched the job. Rosie's arrived and the vet gave us 2 scenarios: they do surgery and if the infection has moved into his abdomen, they may not be able to save him. If the infection hasn't moved, it would likely be a good outcome. Cost: close to $4000. Rosie's said they are in the business of saving animals so go ahead and do the surgery. I don't know how we would have done it, but we would have found the money even though Biscuit had only been with us 3 days. I was already attached. There was no Go Fund at that time. Biscuit had the best possible outcome: infection hadn't moved and they were able to clean him up and remove that unsightly testicle. No climbing or jumping for a while so I set up a mattress in the living room and slept with him and Bella there. Here is Biscuit after Surgery and with Bella on the mattress - Biscuit is on the mattress and Bella is half on half off lol

Death of your Dog

If you're anything like me when it comes to dogs you have had that have died, you think that when they do go, there can never possibly be another that you will feel as close to or love more than you did the one before. I have had 3 dogs and I know that that's what I thought every time one of them died. Bali and Bella were the first. They were a male and female black and blonde Lab respectively. They died about 6 months apart. They were both 14 years old. I had never intended to have to go through that so close together, but when you rescue a dog, their age is their age. As it turns out, Bella, the rescued one, was only 6 months younger than Bali. It's going on about 7 years now since they both went to Rainbow Bridge. What a wonderful notion that is, the Bridge. A place where all dogs go after they die, where they are free of any and all pain they may have suffered. Where they can run free to their heart's content. Where the saying goes, that they will meet you there too one day. I don't know what I believe in after death...I want to believe there's something. I wish I could know for sure...if it Rainbow Bridge, or something like it, well, what more is there to say?
After Bali and Bella, came our blond Lab Biscuit. I remember the first time the vet saw him, he said, wow, he's about a 1000 biscuits! He was a big boy, no doubt. Biggest Lab I ever saw. Close to 100 pounds when we got him. Outside of the SPCA, I didn't know much about dog rescue. I mean, I guess I knew that these organizations existed but I just never paid much attention. Rosie Animal Adoption came to me not long after Bali's death. We still had Bella but while she was still with us, her age had caught up to her and she was a shell of her old self. I guess with Bali being my first dog, having had him from the time he was 8 weeks old and having been with me through so many heart aches and difficulties, it only deepened the grief I felt when he died. I started looking online for another male Lab, maybe a week into Bali's death. I don't know what it was I was looking for just that I felt like I needed another dog as quickly as possible. I wasn't trying to erase Bali's memory or replace him (or maybe I was) but I was so distraught I felt like if I had the distraction of another dog to care for, the pain might not be so bad. I came upon Biscuit's picture and told my husband that this was the one. He said how can you know that, you never even met him. I said I just know. I placed a call to Rosie's and after they vetted me, I was told I could go and pick Biscuit up. I remember being a little surprised there was no meet and greet with the dog first but at that time, if you were the right adopter in their eyes, the dog was yours. And so it was that Biscuit became ours just 3 days before Christmas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chimps and Mid-Life Crisis

NEW YORK (AP) — Chimpanzees going through a midlife crisis? It sounds like a setup for a joke. But there it is, in the title of a report published Monday in a scientific journal: "Evidence for a midlife crisis in great apes." So what do these apes do? Buy red Ferraris? Leave their mates for some cute young bonobos? Uh, no. "I believe no ape has ever purchased a sports car," said Andrew Oswald, an author of the study. But researchers report that captive chimps and orangutans do show the same low ebb in emotional well-being at midlife that some studies find in people. That suggests the human tendency toward midlife discontent may have been passed on through evolution, rather than resulting simply from the hassles of modern life, said Oswald, a professor of economics at the University of Warwick in England who presented his work Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A second study in the journal looks at a younger age group and finds that happiness in youth can lead to higher income a few years down the road. More on that later. Let's get back to those apes. Several studies have concluded that happiness in human adults tends to follow a certain course between ages 20 and 70: It starts high and declines over the years to reach a low point in the late 40s, then turns around and rises to another peak at 70. On a graph, that's a U-shaped pattern. Some researchers question whether that trend is real, but to Oswald the mystery is what causes it. "This is one of the great patterns of human life. We're all going to slide along this U for good or ill," he said. "So what explains it?" When he learned that others had been measuring well-being in apes, "it just seemed worth pursuing the hunch that the U might be more general than in humans," he said. He and co-authors assembled data on 508 great apes from zoos and research centers in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Singapore and Japan. Caretakers and other observers had filled out a four-item questionnaire to assess well-being in the apes. The questions asked such things as the degree to which each animal was in a positive or negative mood, how much pleasure it got from social situations, and how successful it was in achieving goals. The raters were even asked how happy they would be if they were the animal for a week. Sounds wacky? Oswald and his co-authors say research suggests it's a valid approach. And they found that the survey results produced that familiar U-shaped curve, adjusted to an ape's shorter lifespan. "We find it for these creatures that don't have a mortgage and don't have to go to work and don't have marriage and all the other stuff," Oswald said. "It's as though the U shape is deep in the biology of humans" rather than a result of uniquely human experiences. Yes, apes do have social lives, so "it could still be something human-like that we share with our social cousins," he said. "But our result does seem to push away the likelihood that it's dominantly something to do with human life." Oswald said it's not clear what the evolutionary payoff might be from such discontent. Maybe it prods parents to be restless, "to help find new worlds for the next generation to breed," he said. Frans de Waal, an authority in primate behavior at Emory University, cautioned that when people judge the happiness of apes, there may be a "human bias." But in an email he called the results "intuitively correct" and said the notion of biological influence over the human pattern is "an intriguing possibility." Even happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California, Riverside, who thinks the U-shaped pattern in people is a statistical mirage, says she can't write off the ape result the same way. "I'm not really sure what it means," she said. "I am finding this very intriguing." Maybe it will spur more thinking about what's going on in both apes and humans, she said. Oswald is also an author of a second report in the journal that finds new evidence that being happy can help young people earn more money later on. Prior research had also reached that conclusion, but Lyubomirsky and University of Virginia psychology professor Shige Oishi called the new work the best evidence yet. "Wow," Oishi said in an email. "This is a very strong paper" in its approach. Researchers drew on data from a huge sample of young Americans who were surveyed repeatedly. They were asked to rate their positive feelings such as happiness and hopefulness at age 16 and again at 18, and their satisfaction with life at 22. Researchers then compared their ratings with their income around age 29. The data came from nearly 15,000 participants at age 16, and at least 11,000 at the latter two ages. Higher income at age 29 was consistently linked to greater happiness at the earlier ages. The least happy 16-year-olds, for example, went on to average about $10,000 a year less than the happiest. That disparity shrank by about half when the researchers statistically removed the effect of other influences such as ethnicity, health and education. A happiness effect even appeared between siblings within their own families. What's going on? Most likely, happiness raises productivity and helps a person work effectively with others, factors that promote success in the workplace, Oswald said. The study found that happier people were more likely to get a college degree and get hired and promoted. Ed Diener, an authority on happiness research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said optimism probably plays a role because it helps people persist in their efforts and take on difficult goals. Since several studies, including his own, have now linked happiness to later income, that idea seems reliable, he said. Parents should recognize that "the psychological well-being of their children is important in how well the kids will do in simple dollar terms later on," Oswald said. And unhappy people should realize that they might have to strive harder than others to focus on work and promotion rather than their unhappiness, he said. By: Malcolm Ritter

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New monkey species discovered; only second such find in 28 years

Scientists in the Democratic Republic of Congo claim they have discovered a new species of monkey, making it only the second such discovery in nearly 30 years. The claim is published in the journal Plos One, in which the team of U.S. scientists have named the find Cercopithecus Lomamiensis. The team says the monkey, which locals call the Lesula, has been known among inhabitants of the Congo's Lomami forest basin for years but had never been seen by the outside world until now. "We never expected to find a new species there," said the project's lead scientist, John Hart. "But the Lomami basin is a very large block that has had very little exploration by biologists." The Lesula has large yellow eyes, a long narrow nose and a pink-colored face under its golden fur. It is reportedly very shy, requiring Hart's team to set up remote monitoring devices to detect the animals in their natural habitat. Interestingly, the team first made its apparent discovery when scientists came across an unidentified monkey tethered to a post and belonging to the daughter of a local schoolteacher. "Right away I saw that this was something different," Hart said. "It looked a bit like a monkey from much further east, but the coloring was so different and the range was so different." For three years, Hart worked with geneticists and anthropologists as he labored to determine whether the monkey actually belonged to a previously unclassified species. "I knew it was important to have a collaborative team of experts," he said. Eventually an ancient, common genetic ancestry was linked between the Lesula and the Owl Face monkey. Scientists at New York University and Florida Atlantic University say they believe the species' split may have occurred after a series of rivers broke apart the animal's natural habitat. Hart is working with Congolese authorities to establish a national park in the basin that will help protect the Lesula and other animals that reside there. "The challenge now is to make the Lesula an iconic species that carries the message for conservation of all of DR Congo's endangered fauna," Hart said. By Eric Pfeiffer, Yahoo! News