Happiness in Animals?

Callie & Jenny

Of course! It seems like a simple question, but as is often the case, our big, complicated brains allow us to add nuance to the answer. I've gone on record as arguing that yes indeed, mammals like dogs and horses can be happy, how could they not be? Feeling good is a way for the body to tell the brain (as if they were separate, forgive me for this simplistic duality) that it is in an environment that is safe and healthy. The neuro-hormones associated with happiness, like dopamine and oxytocin are shared by all mammals, and expressive mammals like dogs have the same facial expressions as we do when we are happy ourselves. I write about this in the book For the Love of a Dog and show examples in the DVD of the same name. However, I was reminded that the question has more depth than "can a Read More

MeMe Gets Skunked; Kitten Update

Gingers

Here's an interesting case for you: A good friend has a lab cross, MeMe, who was badly skunked a few nights ago. This appeared to be a direct hit to the eyes, the poor dog was rolling desperately on the ground, gagging repeatedly and batting at her eyes. MeMe got medical care and appears to have recovered, but here's her owner's question: When Debby found her, she cringed and cowered, "belly nearly scraping the ground, eyes averted and tail down." Debby said she looked like she was afraid she was about to be hit, although that has never, ever happened. (Okay, it's not like I live inside the dog's collar, but I know Debby, and believe me, she'd no more hit a dog than I would.) Debby was not scolding MeMe in anyway, but MeMe still had her head and tail down in the positions that people Read More

Helping Feral Kittens

OJ w: Scott

  Happy Day! The first kitten just went to her new home. OJ, the little orange and white female, is going to a good friend and yoga coach, Scott Anderson and his wife Collette. They both adore cats and have moved heaven and earth for them if the need arises (think the feline version of Willie's surgery and year long rehab). I am still all oxytocin-y about the whole thing. Here's Scott and the little girl right before they went home:   In hopes it is helpful to others, here are some things I've done (so far anyway, this adventure is far from over) and some things I've learned along the way: CAPTURING: It was clear early on that taming the kittens so that they let me catch them in the barn was not going to happen. If you want to start socializing kittens when they Read More

The Cycle of Life: Cats at Redstart Farm

calico 6-27

There's good news, and there's bad news. But the bad news is good news. Sort of. And the good news, well... it remains to be seen how it will be cataloged when the chapter is completed. I'll get the first news out of the way now, because its hard for me to write about. Those of you who know me well know that I love cats. I've had at least one cat ever since I've been an almost adult, for over 46 years. One of the best cats I've ever had is Sushi, the cat I got 11 years ago at the Dane County Humane Society. Sushi is fine, don't worry, I'm not working up to tell you that she's died. As a matter of fact, she's never been happier. She's just not at Redstart Farm. Long story short: I'm allergic to cats. A lot. So much so that when I went to the humane society to look for a cat I held Read More