You’ve Got a Friend?


If you've been following last week's blog and the comments, you know that there's been an active discussion about whether dogs can (or can't) form "true" friendships. This was motivated by an article in Time Magazine by Carl Zimmer that discussed the evidence of friendship in several species of mammals, including dolphins, baboons and horses. In spite of the irony of a cover photo that includes two dogs (and the photographer saying: "I actually had to make sure that the dogs coming in were actually friends."), the article states "... most scientists think they [relationships between dogs] fall well short of true friendship." I'm curious who the 'most' scientists are... I suggested to the author that he might want to talk to scientists who study dogs like Barbara Smuts & Camille Read More

Do Dogs Form “Real” Friendships?

I had an entirely different blog written and about to be posted, but there's a swirl of discussion going on right now about an article that came out in Time Magazine by Carl Zimmer about "friendships" in animals. He has lots of good information from researchers who argue that true friendships are formed in many social species, including horses, dolphins, and baboons. I was a tad irritated at suggestions that "we" (scientists) haven't accepted that friendships can be found in other animals until just recently..." look at the writings of Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal for example for exceptions to that...  but in general it's a truly good article. But imagine my surprise when he writes that evidence of true friendships can not be found in dogs.  He says: ".. most scientists think Read More


Tootsie head 2 small

Here's TOOTSIE! Also known as: Little Bit, Mini Me and my favorite, Mop of the Woods. There's a new kid on the block, or at the farm I should say. Meet Tootsie, a 7 year old King Charles Cavalier who was rescued by Lucky Star Cavalier Rescue from an Amish Puppy Mill, after the owners had used her up. Her mouth and ears were horribly infected; she had twenty teeth extracted.  She also was fat as a tick, so you couldn't say she was starving. She weighed 22 lbs (now she weighs 15 and is still a bit overweight). And what, you might ask, is a Cavalier doing at Redstart Farm? Doesn't every farm need a Cavalier? (What, you think we farmers don't have laps?)  Seriously, there is logic to all this. Here's a brief version of the back story:  If you have been following the blog for Read More

Hi from the Madison Seminar

madison audience 2011

Wow. What an amazing experience for me, and I hope for the 250 participants in the Madison Seminar. We spent the weekend immersed in hot-off-the-press research on canine behavior, (I was worried it would be too wonky but apparently I'm not the only one starved for intellectual stimulation about dog behavior!), and Ken Ramirez's inspiring wisdom about training, well illustrated by compelling videos and stories. You just can't listen to this man talk and not be a better trainer for it. We were even honored by the presence of David Wroblewski, the author of the deservedly best-selling and instant American Classic, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I'm basically brain dead today, able only to mumble monosyllabic nonsense, but I'm looking forward to lots of posts inspired by the weekend, from Read More

Expectations: Adults versus Puppies

leaping lamb

Karen London and I are working on our edits to the new booklet on adopting adolescent and older dogs, and something hit me as I was writing that I thought was worth talking about. After considering my own experiences bringing "non-puppies" into my home, talking with folks in rescues and shelters, and working with clients for so many years, it strikes me that one of the biggest problems people have when they adopt an "older" dog (not old, but not puppy either) relate to unrealistic expectations. I don't mean that in the usual sense, say, for example, expecting a dog to behave perfectly on day one, but more in the sense that we have certain expectations of adults that we don't have with puppies. Take house training, for example. Everyone expects puppies to have "accidents" in the house Read More