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Nobody like subjecting her dog to surgery – especially for a second time, as was the case with my dog! And there’s always the occasional piece of anecdotal evidence suggesting that dogs with cryptorchidism can live to a ripe old age without surgical intervention or complications. For me, however, the combination of my vet’s recommendation to re-neuter Saber by age four, the gnawing fear of cancer, and some unwanted, hormonally driven behavior (insatiable sniffing), solidified my decision to pursue the second surgery – which was successful. (And, I’m pleased to report the excess sniffing stopped almost immediately; I wouldn’t have believed it could happen so quickly, had I not witnessed the remarkable change.)
Regular exercise helps reduce stress, another lifestyle factor in the development of cancer. Uncontrolled stress has been shown to exacerbate tumor growth in humans. Signs of stress in your dog vary from obvious (digestive upset or lack of appetite) to subtle (persistent licking with no other cause, yawning, scratching for no obvious reason, dropped tail, drooling, low/back ears). Feed a good-quality food in appropriate amounts to keep your dog fit and slender. Be sure your dog gets plenty of exercise, and address stress issues by incorporating the help of a trainer or your veterinarian to isolate and eliminate the source.
Prior to the development of DNA testing, the only method available for identifying the breed of a dog whose heritage was unknown was visual assessment. A shelter worker, veterinarian, or animal control officer examines the dog and assigns a breed designation based upon physical appearance and conformation. Even with widespread availability of DNA tests, most shelters and rescue groups continue to rely upon visual identification to assign breed labels to the dogs in their care. Given the life or death import of these decisions for some dogs, it is odd that the question of the reliability of these evaluations has not been questioned.
Without a doubt, gaze and eye contact are highly important to dogs. They use eye contact in various forms to communicate with us and with other animals. We know that many dogs naturally follow our gaze to distant objects (i.e., as a form of pointing) and that dogs will seek our eye contact when looking for a bit of help. And now we know that dogs, like humans and several other social species, can be aware of what a person may or may not be able to see and, on some level, are capable of taking that person’s perspective into consideration.
Being approached by loose dogs, especially when my dogs are on leash, is my least-favorite experience as a dog owner. When we’re walking in a public place, such as a beach or park, I can usually identify the owner and ask that he please wrangle his dog. Of course, this request may be met with varying responses, ranging from appropriately apologetic for their dog having invaded our space, to accusatory, suggesting I am the problem for not allowing my dogs to roam free and socialize. But as uncomfortable as it may be to deal with unpleasant dog owners, it can be even worse to deal with a loose dog whose owner is nowhere in sight!
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