Tag Archives: research



The Dog Who Knows 1,000 Words

“For one amazing dog, the words “sit,” “fetch,” and “roll over” aren’t the limits of her language — they’re only the beginning. Six-year-old female border collie Chaser has been trained by her owner to understand more than 1,000 words, along with simple sentences.”

Chaser and Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Chaser’s owner, John Pilley, has spent years training and testing the limits of her intelligence. The 82-year-old psychology professor used children’s toys and other objects to teach Chaser nouns, and she’s still learning new things.”

“The flexibility we see in dogs seems to be very similar to what you see in young children at a very important age in their development,” said animal researcher Brian Hare at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.

“Hare studies primates, including chimps and bonobos, which have shown the ability to learn sign language and solve sophisticated problems. But their learning is slow compared with Chaser’s ability to quickly learn and recall new words.”

Text from ABC: World’s Smartest Dog

See a GREAT video with  Neil deGrasse Tyson on NOVA Science Now


Why Dogs Love Us

Saw this article in PAWS Chicago magazine ( http://www.pawschicago.org/ ) and thought it had a lot of great information.

The author is Robert J. Bliwise and the article originally appeared in DUKE Magazine


Here’s an excerpt and a link to the full article:


“Dogs love us,” Hare says. “They’re obsessed with humans. They’re fascinated with us, and they’ve been bred to be so. It’s a little bit artificial for me to have a social interaction with a chimpanzee and make conclusions about its social cognition. With a dog, the best social stimulus you can have is a human.”

But humans haven’t necessarily been adept at understanding dogs, a phenomenon that presents a scientific opportunity. “Where dogs have been selected to be obsessed with humans, humans have not been selected to be obsessed with dogs,” he says. “When I’m with my dog, he’s watching me constantly. He wants to be in the same room. He wants to know where I’m going, he wants to know what I’m doing, he wants to know what I’m touching. I’m not watching him that way. That means I miss a lot of stuff that he’s doing.”


2010 Mutt Census


How cool is this!? Take a few minutes to visit the 2010 Mutt Census and register your dawgs!

Mars Veterinary, a global company specializing in pet care and canine genetic breed identification, is conducting an inaugural National Mutt Census. The goal is to provide insights into the background of the nation’s estimated 38 million mixed-breed dogs.

The company hopes that a portrait of the makeup of the nation’s mixed-breed dogs will lead to a better understanding of the prevalence of genetic traits and conditions among this population, says Dr. Angela Hughes, veterinary genetics research manager at Mars Veterinary. “Understanding an individual dog’s breed makeup is like understanding its family history – this information can provide an owner with valuable insights that strengthen the pet-owner relationship,” she says.

Mars Veterinary urges dog owners to participate by visitingwww.muttcensus.com, where they can take a five-minute survey that asks questions about the dog’s size and weight, his feeding and exercise habits, whether he was adopted from a shelter – as well as questions about the dog’s health.

The findings will offer the most comprehensive analysis of the nation’s mixed-breed dog population ever conducted, the company said.

The results may also provide researchers a better understanding of the types and frequency of diseases among this group of dogs that may ultimately help determine health risk factors for certain breed mixes.

Dawg House Fall 2009 Newsletter

In this issue:

  • New Dawgs
  • HSSA Adoption Center Grand Opening Party 
  • Can dogs get the H1N1 swine flu?
  • Good Dog, Smart Dog
  • Holiday Dog  Hazards
  • Dawg House Boarding On-and-Off-Site


It’s New Dawgs Time! Let’s hear it for all the wonderful new members of our pack: Rayne (Lab mix), Nova (Great Dane), Pierre (Poodle – Chloe’s new brother!), Paris (mix), Nation (Pit mix), Quincy (Golden Doodle), Uli (mix), Hairy (Jack Russell), Silver (Siberian Husky), Lizzy (Aussie), Khaki and Onyx (Great Danes), Pinto (Aussie), Carter (Pit mix), Izzy (Yorkie / Maltese), Star (Lab mix), Chaco (Lab mix), and Matti (Cockapoo). WOOF! Welcome to the pack!

 If we forgot you, please let us know!


hssa logoThe Humane Society of Southern Arizona has been rescuing, protecting, and saving pets in Tucson for over 65 years. Now, for the first time ever, HSSA has expanded with a new satellite location. We are proud to introduce our new Adoption Center and pet merchandise store at Park Place Mall with a grand opening celebration Saturday Nov. 21st.
Please join us in celebrating our new location, where fashion and shopping meets furry friendships, at Park Place Mall in the South East corner near Sears. The celebration starts at 11:00 a.m. and continues until 5:00 p.m. 

Dawg House will have a booth at this event, so come down, support the HSSA and say hi! We’ll see you there.



H1N1 and Dogs

So far, there are documented cases of ferrets, turkeys, pigs and a cat who have contracted the H1N1 (‘Swine Flu’) virus from humans. The cat recovered; there was one reported ferret death. There have been, however, no reported cases of dogs with H1N1 yet.

sick dog2That doesn’t mean they might not get it, eventually, so normal precautions should be taken if you have any sort of illness in your home. Viruses compromise immune systems in all living organisms, so you want to be careful when sypmtoms arise in you or your pets. Many of the sites we visited for research on this topic recommend that at home you should be washing your hands, covering your face when you sneeze and cough, and if you are ill, you should try to keep your pets from sleeping in your room or on your bed (if that’s possible!)

From the American Veterinary Medical Association Website:

So far, there haven’t been any reports of dogs infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. Based on what’s been reported, ferrets and one cat – and probably dogs, if they can become infected with the virus – have shown signs of respiratory illness. These signs can include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing, coughing, or changes in breathing (including difficulty breathing).

Keep in mind that dogs currently have their own flu virus, the H3N8 influenza (canine influenza) virus, going around. So far, this flu virus has only been spread from dog to dog. Dogs infected with the canine influenza virus show the same symptoms as dogs with kennel cough – fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, and maybe a runny nose.


Similar information is posted on the ASPCA website:


Here’s a link to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) post regarding dogs and H1N1:


And several others:






dog reading illo

illustration by Ross Macdonald

 A recent article in the New York Times caught our attention. Good Dog, Smart Dog” by Sarah Kershaw presents a ton of great insight in a short article about service dogs, dog intelligence, and research focused on a deeper understanding of how dogs perceive the world.

“By giving dogs language learning and other tests devised for infants and toddlers, Dr. Coren has come up with an intelligence ranking of 100 breeds, with border collies at No. 1. He says the most intelligent breeds (poodles, retrievers, Labradors and shepherds) can learn as many as 250 words, signs and signals, while the others can learn 165. The average dog is about as intellectually advanced as a 2- to 2-and-a-half-year-old child, he has concluded, with an ability to understand some abstract concepts. For example, the animal can get ”the idea of being a dog” by differentiating photographs with dogs in them from photographs without dogs.”

It’s no secret that dogs have certain senses and abilities that we as humans do not. They see the world in a completely different way than we do, and yet we often judge their intelligence on how it compares to our own. We put very little effort into interpreting the world as dogs perceive it, but how much effort do we make to comminucate with dogs on their terms? How mute we must seem to them sometimes, when we don’t smell what they smell, hear what they hear, or show them the patience in all things that they show us. Dogs are smart, but they are also wise.

More on this article and subject in a recent post from one of our fave blogs:


The original NYT article:



Holiday Hazards for Dawgs

dog dinner partyEach year we try to outline some of the holiday-related toxins that dawgs should stay away from. It’s tempting to give our pets lots of treats (especially when we’re getting so many!), but the fact is, certain people foods (and other holiday items) can be hazardous to their health! 

 The usual dog-toxin suspects we list each year include: 

  • Bones (no Turkey bones, Ham bones, Chicken bones etc.)  They can lacerate or obstruct your pets insides–use them for making stock, not as a treat for your pet.
  • Animal Fat (undigestable); plus too many fatty, rich or new types of food can give your pet pancreatitis or gastroenteritis; two medical conditions that can be painful and even life threatening.
  • Gravy / Butter / Dairy (a little turkey broth is OK!)
  • Chocolate / Nuts
  •  Garbage / Tin Foil / Plastic Bags (always tasty but toxic)–they can also cause a bowel obstruction.
  • Poinsettas, Holly, Mistletoe, Cedar (trees) – all toxic
  • Alcohol / Coffee
  • Onions/Onion Powder (often found in stuffings, will destroy red blood cells and cause anemia 
  • Raisins / Grapes contain a toxin that can cause kidney problems in both cats and dogs.
  • Also make sure your pet has a quiet retreat during the hectic festivities that may be overwhelming–give him/her a break if they appear stressed.

More detailed info can be found online:






sm dh logo framedDawg House Boarding

It appears that Dawg House is FINALLY ready to offer onsite boarding, starting at the beginning of December.  We will continue to offer in home boarding as well, but even our onsite boarding will be pretty cushy. We will limit the boarding to no more than 10 dogs, which gives each dog a lot of specialized attention.

Dogs that are being boarded onsite at Dawg House (we have a WHOLE section of the building that most of you haven’t even seen!) will include the dogs being in daycare during the day, and will stay in a Great Dane sized crate overnight, which should be perfect for them to collapse into after they’ve played all day!

This gives our clients comfort, knowing that they can check in on them during the day on our webcam, and knowing that they won’t be locked up in a run for extended periods of time.

We also will continue to require that you supply food from home, so your pup won’t have any gastroenterological disruption (bad tummy!).  Plus, you are always welcome to supply whatever else you would want your pup to have while he/she is away from you—their favorite teddy bear, their bed, a kong.

We also, of course, will give (or apply) any medications that the dogs will need during their stay free of charge.

The pricing structure for our boarding will be as follows:

For our in home boarding: The price will remain at $35 per 24 hour period, and that includes daycare.  We will continue to only board dogs that we know well (regular daycare clients), and also will continue to limit the number to ensure their happiness and to ensure that we have enough room in our house! 

For on site boarding: The cost for will be: $30.We will board dogs that aren’t regular daycare clients, but because they will be in daycare all day long with our regulars, they will have to pass a temperament evaluation, be spayed/neutered by 6 months of age, and provide full vaccination records. 

If the dogs are picked up before 9:00am on they day they are going home, no daycare rate will apply. After the 9:00am pickup time, the charge will be either half or a whole day of daycare on top of the boarding charge.

We’re really excited about getting this started and we look forward to offering this extension of our services to you all.


“If you would understand this secret, you must first understand the distinction between training an animal and educating one. Trained animals are relatively easy to turn out. All that is required is a book of instructions, a certain amount of bluff and bluster, something to use for threatening and punishing purposes, and of course the animal. Educating an animal, on the other hand, demands keen intelligence, integrity, imagination, and the gentle touch, mentally, vocally, and physically.”

J. Allen Boone, Kinship with All Life


Thanks for reading – send your suggestions for future newsletters and posts!

Your friends,

Erica, Christopher, Benjamin and Finnegan


More Dog Books and Articles!

We recently ran across a good book and an article about dog behavior and of course we thought of you. ♥

Inside-of-a-Dog-coverInside of a Dog was featured in the NYT Book Review last week and we really liked the way it approaches dog behavior through science, and uses that information to try and describe to us the way a dog experiences the world.

Not only are we not always smelling, but when we do notice a smell it is usually because it is a good smell, or a bad one: it’s rarely just a source of information. We find most odors either alluring or repulsive; few have the neutral character that visual perceptions do. We savor or avoid them. My current world seems relatively odorless. But it is most decidedly not free of smell. Our own weak olfactory sense has, no doubt, limited our curiosity about what the world smells like. A growing coalition of scientists is working to change that–and what they have found about olfactory animals, dogs included, is enough to make us envy those nose-creatures. As we see the world, the dog smells it. The dog’s universe is a stratum of complex odors. The world of scents is at least as rich as the world of sight.

 Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz:



Brian Hare and GreyhoundIn Time Magazine,  Brian Hare, assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University is featured in “The Secrets Inside Your Dog’s Mind,” a fascinating look at how we have co-evolved with dogs:

Once dogs became comfortable in our company, humans began to speed up dogs’ social evolution. They may have started by giving extra food to helpful dogs–ones that barked to warn of danger, say. Dogs that paid close attention to humans got more rewards and eventually became partners with humans, helping with hunts or herding other animals. Along the way, the dogs’ social intelligence became eerily like ours, and not just in their ability to follow a pointed finger. Indeed, they even started to make very human mistakes.

This is a terrific overview of that field of study, and on the website there are lots of great videos and links to other dog articles: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1921614-1,00.html

Good stuff for your brain!