• How Dogs Strengthen Their Owners’ Immune Systems

    Guest Author: Lola Lipson writes on Canine-American topics.

    She has published two articles in her own name in the Chicago Tribune, her favorite paper.

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    “Are Pets the New Probiotic?,” asks the New York Times.

    Yes, they answer.

    Their basic point:

    Dogs expose their owners to all kinds of germs and yucky stuff, and, in the process, force our immune systems to bulk up to deal with them.

    That can be very good for kids.

    Scientists are paying increasing attention to the “indoor microbiome,” the billions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that we share our homes and offices with. But not all those micro-organisms are bad for us, experts note. And exposure to a rich array of indoor germs may actually be salutary, helping stave off a variety of illnesses.

    So there is growing concern that, in our anxiety to banish bacteria from our indoor world, we have become too clean for our own good. We run the risk of scrubbing, disinfecting, vacuuming and filtering out the fortifying mix of microscopic creatures that our immune system needs to develop properly. –New York Times

    Enter the dog.

    There are suggestive results from “natural experiments,” comparing different groups of children–some exposed to animals, others not.

    Pets, and dogs especially, add a lot to the diversity of the indoor microbiome. Research has shown that dog ownership raised the levels of 56 different classes of bacterial species in the indoor environment, while naturally more fastidious cats boosted only 24 categories. –New York Times

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    Comment: This finding should not be surprising.

    One of the basic insights of recent macro-histories is that Europeans and Asians developed resistance to diseases because of their exposure to horses, cattle, oxen and other large, domesticated animals. Latin Americans, whose only large animals were llamas, lacked such resistance.

    Presumably, Europeans and Asians not only developed some disease resistance during an individual’s lifetime, their populations evolved over generations to favor those with better resistance, who could live to reproduce (Darwinian selection effects).

    The suggestion of these studies–and it is still not proven–is that we can also degrade these resistance systems by living in “clean bubbles,” especially when young.

    These health effects are just a bonus, though. The main thing, as all us dogs know, is that every kid deserves one.

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    • The opinions in this post are those of the guest author. She and ZipDialog welcome your response.
    • She wishes to thank her owner, Charles Lipson, for assistance with typing. Also with food, water, and treats.

     

  • Talking to your dog is “a sign of intelligence”

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    Prof. Nicholas Epley of the U. of Chicago says naming your boat, talking to your plants, or singing to your pet hamster is a sign of human intelligence.

    According to the Epley

    Historically, anthropomorphizing [giving human qualities to objects and animals] has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet.  . . .

    This is just the byproduct of having an active, intelligent social cognition—of having a brain that is programmed to see and perceive minds.–Nicholas Epley in Quartz

    Comment: Epley cut short the interview to text his cat.

  • What happens when you can read a dog’s mind? SNL offers a VERY funny answer

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    Saturday Night Live has been more political this year and relentlessly anti-Trump, sometimes funny, sometimes not.

    He’s such an easy target to parody.

    In my opinion, though, they feed at the same trough too often, always from the same perspective. That gets stale.

    Not this time.

    This is a totally different take, with more than a touch of self-directed humor: The Dog’s Mind Translator

     

    Thanks to Sam Stubbs for sending.

  • Headline of the Day: “Pit bull named Scarface attacks Florida woman after she tried to put Christmas sweater on pet”

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    You never expect a Pit Bull named Scarface to do anything but cuddle.

    And what dog, living in the frozen wasteland of Tampa, Florida, doesn’t yearn to wear a cheery Christmas sweater?

    Hey, most dogs want to add a Sherlock Holmes hat and a pipe to complete the distinguished look.

    I simply don’t understand what could have gone wrong here.

    The New York Daily News has the story. The dog owner’s granddaughter

    told the Daily News that [her grandmother] underwent surgery Friday and is recovering from her wounds at Tampa General Hospital.

    “She’s doing much better because she can finally move and talk.” –New York Daily News

    Meanwhile, Scarface has been approached by several rap-music producers.