Never Underestimate the Power of Furry Friends

I have been an animal lover all my life. As a child I brought home a whole menagerie of animals through the years. From baby rabbits to stray dogs, no creature was too small, too wild or too dirty for me to rescue. So when I came across this story on the web about a woman and her husband who rescue an orphaned baby rat from the alley behind their apartment, it really spoke to me.

It is clear that the author and her husband didn’t expect any thing from this baby rat, they just didn’t want to leave the little guy to die alone in the cold. When he survived, they expected to return him to the wild to live his life with his own kind. What they didn’t expect was how easily the little furry creature would insinuate himself into their lives, or that one little alley rat would change their lifestyle and teach them about empathy and altruism.

As a child though, my motives were not wholly altruistic. In fact they were down right selfish. I liked how being with the animals made me feel. Continue reading

Another Application for DNA Testing: Getting the Scoop on Dog Poop

Guilty beagleAs a society, we love our pets. In many cases, cats and dogs are our surrogate children. We spoil them with treats, toys and plenty of attention. They reward us with unconditional love (or as some cats seem to think, simply with their presence). However, in addition to the many joys of animal companionship, there are unpleasant effects and responsibilities associated with pet ownership. Cat or dog hair covers our furniture, our favorite sweater and every other possession, whether or not these items come into direct contact with our hairy friend. Some dogs have uncontrollable urges to chase cars or bark incessantly; cats often dispense fur balls randomly around the house or become a pest every time we use the can opener. One of the worst responsibilities, in my opinion, is cleaning up after them. Cats have litter boxes, which must be cleaned periodically, and dogs generate piles of yesterday’s dog food, which must be picked up. A responsible dog owner even carries plastic bags during walks to collect piles that Fido leaves along the way. However, not all pet owners are responsible enough to pick up the offending material, and this is causing problems in many communities. Some property owners are now implementing a high-tech solution to this unsightly problem: DNA testing.
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Cats Rule? Maybe. Maybe Not

Ah, that age-old question: which is the better pet, cats or dogs?  The good folks at the New Scientist ran some tests to try to answer the question once and for all.

Personally, I like everything with fur and four legs, so neither outcome would be disappointing. For those of you who feel strongly, read on at your own risk.

And the winner is?

Dogs vs cats: The great pet showdown