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REVIEW: Super-intelligent, dog-detecting robot lawn mower

<p>I was recently invited to an onsite demonstration of a brand new line of lawn mowers that were pitched as being not just a lawn mower, but a furry-friend dodging, grass-grooming marvel of modern technology.</p> <p>According to the specs, the <a href="https://au.worx.com/vision-technology/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WORX LANDROID® Vision</a> is the world’s first advanced AI, "unbox &amp; mow" robot lawn mower. "No wire. No satellite. No beacons. No time between unboxing and mowing."</p> <p>Using a combination of HRD camera, the latest AI smarts and a deeply trained neural network to identify grass to mow and obstacles to avoid, it features the innovative "Cut-to-Edge" function, multi-zone management and adaptive auto-scheduling. Plus an<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;"> optional LED headlight safe night-mowing (apparently, unlike conventional robots, Vision sees nocturnal animals and stays away from them).</span></p> <p>But the real test for me was always going to be: how would something like the Vision get along with my dog, Rosie? I was offered the chance to try out one of the mowers for a few weeks, and so I jumped at it.</p> <p>But let's talk about Rosie for a moment. Now, this little ball of fur thinks she's the queen of the backyard. She zooms around like a tiny tornado, and honestly I think she believes the grass is her personal chew toy. So, when I introduced the LANDROID into the mix, I was half expecting chaos and half hoping for a miracle.</p> <p>Lo and behold, this mower is not just a lawn whisperer; it's a puppy ninja. The WORX LANDROID has some sort of superpower in its sensors, allowing it to detect my pup's presence and skilfully manoeuvre around her. It was like watching a graceful dance between technology and canine curiosity.</p> <p>For the duration of the test, Rosie basically appointed herself as the official supervisor of lawn maintenance, proudly watching from a safe distance (and sometimes not so safe) as the LANDROID worked its magic.</p> <p>But let's not forget about the real star of the show: the lawn itself. The LANDROID doesn't just dodge around obstacles; it trims with precision, leaving my yard looking like a freshly coiffed celebrity. It's like having a personal stylist for my grass – one that never sleeps. </p> <p>And the best part? I get to sit back, relax and sip my lemonade while the LANDROID does all the heavy lifting (or should I say, mowing). It's like having a reliable little garden gnome, except this one runs on electricity and has impeccable dodging skills.</p> <p>So if you want a lawn mower that's not only efficient but also entertaining, look no further than the <a href="https://au.worx.com/vision-technology/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">WORX LANDROID Vision</a>. It's the perfect blend of technology, pet sensitivity and grass-grooming prowess. Plus, it's the only mower I know that can outmanoeuvre a puppy – and that is definitely something to bark about.</p> <p><em>Images: Alex Cracknell</em></p>

Home & Garden

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Detection dogs to lead search for Samantha Murphy's body

<p>Detectives have launched a <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/new-update-in-search-for-samantha-murphy-s-body" target="_blank" rel="noopener">fresh search</a> for Samantha Murphy's body, but after spending eight hours on Wednesday trying to locate her remains in Buninyong to no avail, they are trying a different approach. </p> <p>Technology detection dogs will assist detectives in their search on Thursday, at a new site that police have not specified, with the intention of trying to track her phone or watch. </p> <p>“We’ll be going to a different location but we will also use assistance from the Australian Federal Police today in technical detection dogs,” Chief Commissioner Shane Patton told <em>ABC Radio</em>. </p> <p>“We don’t have the capacity — we are trying to get that capability — to run a dog that can detect a SIM from a mobile phone and that type of thing.</p> <p>“We still haven’t recovered her phone and her watch. We’ll use all those specialist skills.”</p> <p>He also added that the "intelligence" they received, which sparked this fresh search did not come from interviews with accused murderer, Patrick Orren Stephenson. </p> <p>“We are doing everything we can to try and find Samantha Murphy’s body. We weren’t successful yesterday but we will continue to do everything we can,” Chief Commissioner Patton said. </p> <p>In another statement, Victoria police also said that the search on Thursday is not a "full-scale targeted search". </p> <p>"This is not a full-scale targeted search as took place yesterday in Buninyong with a range of specialist resources," they said. </p> <p>"Detectives from the Missing Persons squad have been based in Ballarat for over a month and regularly undertake a range of enquiries and small scale searches as part of the current investigation." </p> <p>The accused murderer, who is the <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/everything-we-know-about-samantha-murphy-s-accused-killer" target="_blank" rel="noopener">son of former AFL player</a> Orren Stephenson, was arrested and charged on March 6, and was refused bail at Ballarat Magistrate’s Court.</p> <p>He will next face court on August 8.</p> <p><em>Images: Nine News</em></p> <p> </p>

Legal

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"Cruel" shopper slammed for leaving dog in hot car

<p>A woman has been slammed on social media for allegedly leaving her dog in an unattended car for 40 minutes on a hot day. </p> <p>The incident occurred at Warringah Mall in Sydney's north on Monday, when temperatures reached up to 28 degrees.</p> <p>Claire, claimed the dog-owner pulled up next to her in an undercover car park, and then watched the woman leave her pet locked in an unattended car while she shopped. </p> <p>"Myself and my mother waited till she got back," she told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>. </p> <p>"It was around 3.15pm and she didn’t come back till just before 4pm".</p> <p>During that time, Claire said she called security, who attempted to contact the owner via a mobile number on the dog's harness. She also tried calling the RSPCA and police but claimed that not much could be done.</p> <p>When the owner finally returned, Claire questioned her about leaving the "panting and drooling" animal unattended, but the woman reportedly  just "laughed and scoffed" before "driving away as quick as possible".</p> <p>Claire shared photos of the pup on Facebook  and criticised the owner, for her "absolute irresponsibility and disgusting behaviour", calling her an "absolute d**khead". </p> <p> "People like you should not own animals," she wrote. </p> <p>While many agreed that the woman's actions were "absolutely awful," a few others argued the act was fine as the car was undercover and "the dog doesn't look hot and distressed at all."</p> <p>Another person who claimed to know the owner, said that the woman's car "has an aircon function which allows the air-conditioning to run when the engine is not running" and the pet is generally "very spoiled and happy". </p> <p>A few others disagreed, and said that the act was "cruel" and "simply disgusting" regardless. </p> <p>"Undercover or not you don't lock a baby in a car, you don't lock an animal in a car ... no excuse," one wrote.</p> <p>An RSPCA spokesperson has also spoken out and said that leaving a dog inside a car unattended is "always dangerous" no matter the location or the temperature outside. </p> <p>They said that even on mild days, temperatures in a car can "rapidly heat up" and can reach "double" the outside temperature.</p> <p>"When it’s 22 degrees Celsius outside, the inside of a car can reach a stifling 47 degrees and this is no environment for a dog," the spokesperson said.</p> <p><em>Image: Facebook</em></p>

Family & Pets

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AFP reveal what police dogs found in Erin Patterson's home

<p>The Police Commissioner has revealed what detective dogs found during an extensive search of Erin Patterson's house after her arrest. </p> <p>Patterson, the Gippsland woman at the centre of a mushroom lunch that resulted in the deaths of three people, was charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder late last year. </p> <p>AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw has shared that detective dogs uncovered a series of suspicious items, which were not found during the initial search of Patterson's home. </p> <p>"In November last year, the AFP provided its technology detector dogs to assist our hard-working colleagues at Victoria Police while executing a search warrant relating to individuals who had ingested death cap mushrooms," Kershaw told a Senate estimates hearing.</p> <p>"Technology Detector Dog Georgia found one USB, a micro secure digital card and a sim card."</p> <p>"Technology Detector Dog Alma found a mobile phone, five iPads, a trail camera, and a secure digital card and a smart watch."</p> <p>"These were not found during initial searches undertaken by officers."</p> <p>Patterson remains behind bars while police sift through the newly uncovered evidence, as she is expected to front court again on March 25th. </p> <p>The three murder charges and two of the attempted murder charges relate to a beef wellington lunch allegedly laced with death cap mushrooms that was cooked and served by Patterson at her home on July 29th 2023. </p> <p>The three other attempted murder charges relate to her husband Simon, 48, after he became sick following meals on three occasions between 2021 and 2022.</p> <p>Court documents revealed Patterson is accused of attempting to kill Simon on four occasions - between 16th and 17th November 2021, between 25th and 27th May 2022, on 6th September 2022 and at the mushroom lunch in July 2023. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News / A Current Affair</em></p>

Legal

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World's oldest dog has title suspended amid doubts about his age

<p>The world's <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/miraculous-meet-the-world-s-oldest-dog" target="_blank" rel="noopener">oldest dog</a>, Bobi, who was reportedly 31 years and 165 days old when he died in October, has provisionally lost his title as Guinness World Records investigates his age. </p> <p>Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, was a livestock guardian breed with a life expectancy of anywhere between 12-14 years, which meant that he lived over double his age. </p> <p>His age was initially confirmed by the Veterinary Medical Service of the Municipality of Leiria, which said he had been registered in 1992, which was then verified by Portuguese government-authorised pet database SIAC. </p> <p>He was crowned the world's "oldest ever dog" in February, and his owner Leonel Costa claimed that there were many reasons behind the dog's extraordinary age. </p> <p>Costa said that Bobi always roamed freely, lived in a "calm, peaceful" environment and ate human food soaked in water to remove seasonings. </p> <p>But now, Bobi's true age has been question after suspicions about the evidence that proved his true age were raised not long after his death. </p> <p>"While our review is ongoing we have decided to temporarily pause both the record titles for oldest dog living and ever just until all of our findings are in place," a spokesperson told CNN. </p> <p>The GWR is now conducting a formal review, which involves analysing existing evidence, seeking new evidence, and reaching out to experts and those linked to the original application.</p> <p>The previous record for the world's oldest dog was held by Australian cattle dog Bluey, who was born in 1910 and lived to be 29 years and five months old.</p> <p><em>Image: Youtube</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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Rob Dale "destroyed" after police shot dead pet dog

<p>Rob Dale, who has previously starred in reality TV show <em>Aussie Gold Hunters</em>, was left heartbroken after his pet dog Monty was shot dead during an arrest in Perth's north-east. </p> <p>Police were making an arrest in Dale's house on Stratton Blvd at around 9:30am on Tuesday when the incident occurred. </p> <p>“While at the residence, a dog owned by another person approached and attacked the arrested suspect and a female police officer,” authorities said at the time. </p> <p> A male officer fired at Monty "to prevent further injury". </p> <p>Two men were arrested for aggravated home burglary and commit, stealing and trespassing, after a series of incidences that led police officers to Dale's home. </p> <p>Dale was not home at the time of the incident, and there is no suggestion that he was involved in any alleged crimes. </p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">The TV personality said that his nine-year-old French mastiff x Great Dane, was a  much loved “member of the family," and he was only trying to protect the occupants of the house. </span></p> <p>“He was loyal and protective and he gave me a lot of comfort knowing that if anything was to happen ... my family would be safe with him,” Dale said. </p> <p>“This has destroyed my children and myself.”</p> <p>Dale described his pet as  a “really soft-natured animal”, and was a "protector of the family”. </p> <p>“He was just fulfilling his duty in that house and that’s to protect the occupants, and it’s cost him his life,” Dale added. </p> <p>Both the suspect and police officer were taken to hospital after the incident and discharged on Tuesday afternoon. </p> <p>Images: <em>7NEWS</em></p> <p> </p>

Family & Pets

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Our dogs can terrify (and even kill) wildlife. Here’s how to be a responsible owner this summer

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-starling-461103">Melissa Starling</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>In Australia, dog ownership often goes hand-in-hand with a love for the great outdoors. Whether it’s walking on the beach, going camping, or having a barbecue in the park, we tend to keep our canine companions close as we soak up the sun.</p> <p>But many of us forget a key fact about our dogs: they are predators. Even the fluffy little 5kg ball that spends most of its time in your lap derives from an apex predator – and its predatory instincts can kick in at any time.</p> <p>And while many of our dogs don’t have the same hunting skills as their distant ancestors (who had to hunt for a living), wildlife doesn’t know that.</p> <p>The impacts of domestic dogs on wildlife aren’t well studied, and likely vary depending on the environment. Nonetheless, there’s good evidence domestic dogs, when left unobserved, can have detrimental effects in the places they visit.</p> <p>With that in mind, here are some things to consider next time you take your pup out for a bushwalk.</p> <h2>How dogs impact ecosystems</h2> <p>There are <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320717305967">five main ways</a> domestic dogs can negatively impact the natural environments they visit. These are:</p> <ol> <li>direct physical harm through predatory behaviour</li> <li>disturbance through chasing and harassment</li> <li>increased exposure to diseases</li> <li>interbreeding, which can alter the gene pool of wild canid populations</li> <li>increased competition for resources.</li> </ol> <p>The good news is the last three points aren’t particularly relevant in Australia. For one thing, there’s little overlap between diseases common in domestic dogs and Australian wildlife. There’s also little resource overlap, except perhaps in some areas where feral or semi-feral dogs live alongside dingoes.</p> <p>And regarding potential interbreeding, while it was once thought this could threaten the dingo gene pool, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mec.16998">recent research</a> suggests it’s not nearly as common as we thought.</p> <p>As such, the main harms Aussie dog owners should focus on are physical harms through predatory behaviour and disturbance to ecosystems.</p> <h2>Dogs can kill</h2> <p>We know dogs are capable of injuring and killing wildlife, but it’s difficult to determine how common this is, because many events go unreported. While smaller animals such as lizards, gliders and possums are at higher risk, larger species such as koalas can also fall prey to dogs.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0206958">One study</a> that looked at wildlife coming into care at Queensland rehabilitation centres reported dog attacks as the cause in about 9% of cases. These cases often resulted in severe injury or death.</p> <p>Dog owners should be especially wary of small, localised populations of vulnerable species. A <a href="https://ri.conicet.gov.ar/bitstream/handle/11336/202640/CONICET_Digital_Nro.29048152-7a5c-4ea2-8068-e73d42cba01d_B.pdf?sequence=2&amp;isAllowed=y">study</a> in Argentina’s Patagonia region details several cases of dogs decimating local penguin populations after gaining access to protected island areas during low tide.</p> <p>Not to mention, dog attacks on wildlife can bring risk to dogs as well. Kangaroos can defend themselves with <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-16/mildura-man-fights-kangaroo-to-protect-dog/102983926">their powerful limbs</a>, monitor lizards are equipped with sharp claws and teeth, and many snake species <a href="https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/dogs-twice-as-likely-to-die-from-snake-bite-as-cats-research-finds-20200519-p54ufd.html">are highly venomous</a>.</p> <h2>The impact of harassment</h2> <p>You might think it’s harmless for your dog to chase wildlife if it never manages to catch the animals it chases, but that isn’t true. Wild animals optimise their behaviours to meet their needs for foraging, breeding and resting, and being chased by a dog can disrupt this.</p> <p>For example, certain threatened bird species will nest on the beach and find foraging opportunities based on the tides. One dog forcing one bird to abandon this important activity may have a small impact. But if it happens repeatedly throughout the day, it can become a <a href="https://wilderness-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Dogs-as-agents-of-disturbance-Michael-A.-Weston-and-Theodore-Stankowich.pdf">much bigger problem</a>. It may even drive animals out of the area.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2391219/">Research</a> conducted in Sydney has shown the mere presence of a leashed dog is enough to temporarily, yet dramatically, reduce the number of bird species detected.</p> <h2>Keep an eye on your furry pal</h2> <p>Responsible dog ownership involves making sure our dogs have a minimal impact on others, including wildlife. How can we achieve this when our dogs are simply engaging in behaviours that come naturally to them, and may even be rewarding for them?</p> <p>Training your dog to have general obedience – especially to come when called – is worth sinking considerable time and effort into. This can save both your dog and any wildlife they may be after. For instance, calling a dog away from a snake is one of the most effective ways of managing snake bite risk.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333344634_Applying_Social_Marketing_to_Koala_Conservation_The_Leave_It_Pilot_Program">pilot study</a> in Victoria found positive outcomes from a program that helped owners train their dogs to be more obedient around wildlife.</p> <p>That said, recall training is an art form, and recalling a dog that likes to run off and chase animals can be a huge challenge.</p> <p>Another solution is to rely on leashes when passing sensitive areas, or where there’s a risk of wildlife harassment. In Australia, many beaches that allow dogs have signs with information about vulnerable birds in the area and how to protect them from your dog.</p> <p>This could mean keeping your dog off rock platforms, leashing them when you see birds foraging on the beach, or keeping them out of fenced areas. Some areas are simply too vulnerable for dogs to run amok, so always look for signs and read them carefully.</p> <p>If you’re hiking, use a long line (a leash that’s more than five metres long) and look for signs of your dog detecting something of interest. Often their ears will come up high and forward, and they will freeze and stare intently.</p> <p>At this point, it doesn’t matter what they’re excited about: take the opportunity to leash them or shorten their leash, and get their attention before they can take off. Investing in a long leash will allow your dog more freedom without putting wildlife at risk.</p> <p>If your dog does injure an animal, you should quickly contact a wildlife rescue organisation or take the animal to a veterinary practice or sanctuary. For small animals, even minor injuries from a dog will usually require veterinary attention.</p> <p>It’s our responsibility to be respectful visitors when we’re out in nature, and to make sure our dogs are too. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/214722/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-starling-461103"><em>Melissa Starling</em></a><em>, Postdoctoral Researcher in Veterinary Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/our-dogs-can-terrify-and-even-kill-wildlife-heres-how-to-be-a-responsible-owner-this-summer-214722">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Do dogs actually watch TV?

<p><strong>Doggy mysteries </strong></p> <p>Have you ever been cuddled on the couch with your dog and noticed him fixate on something on the TV? Maybe it’s another dog, a bird, or some other animal, or just some action taking place in your favourite TV show or movie. It sure looks like your pup is watching TV, but is it your imagination?</p> <p>We know that dogs experience colour and light differently than humans do, so their eyes don’t see things the same way. So, do dogs watch TV? It’s one of those <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/decode-your-dogs-behaviour-17-dog-behaviours-explained" target="_blank" rel="noopener">questions about weird dog behaviour</a> that pet lovers are always curious about, so we asked pet experts to weigh in.</p> <p><strong>Do dogs watch TV?</strong></p> <p>The answer is basically a yes. Dr Cherice Roth, Chief Veterinary Officer with the pet health care company Fuzzy, confirms that your pup’s apparent TV-watching habits are indeed the real thing. “Some dogs do watch TV!” says Dr Roth, adding that dogs can actually become engrossed by what’s on the tube.</p> <p>“Much like with humans, [a dog’s interest will vary] based on their attention span and attention to motion.” Plus, depending on how high the volume is, they’ll also react to sounds on the TV – especially anything that sounds like their favourite squeaky dog toy – and may be fixated on that as much as the action on the screen. </p> <p><strong>Is it OK for dogs to watch TV?</strong></p> <p>Just because dogs can watch TV, does it mean they should? Dr Albert Ahn, a veterinary advisor with Myos Pet, offers a qualified yes. “Many owners leave the television on to provide their dogs with a distraction while they leave for work or run errands,” he says, adding that TV can be a helpful tool to help reduce feelings of mild separation anxiety.</p> <p>However, Dr Ahn cautions that TV should not be used as a replacement for real owner-pet interaction. “Dogs are social animals,” he explains, “and they need interactions with their pet parents, as well as appropriate amounts of daily exercise.” So unlike your moody teen, who may be more interested in a smartphone than in your company, your dog always wants to hang out with you, whether that means going for a walk, playing a game of fetch, or just chilling on the couch at your side.</p> <p>Dr Roth highlights another potential issue: Some commercials or programming may emit sounds that are distressing to dogs. Typically, bothersome noises for dogs include explosions, gunshots, sirens and crying, and TV sounds that are loud to us are even louder for dogs, thanks to their more sensitive ears – and sounds that are barely perceptible to us might really bother them. So if you’re leaving the TV on when you’re not at home, it’s a good idea to keep the volume low.</p> <p><strong>What does TV look like to dogs?</strong></p> <p>When it comes to watching TV, humans have a distinct advantage over dogs, mostly because we can see colour, and dogs see only a very limited colour range (though they do see in the dark better than we do). “It’s hard to say exactly what [TV] looks like for a dog,” says Dr Ahn. “However, it is generally believed that because of the composition of the cones in the retina, dogs probably are only able to see two specific colours – blue and yellow.”</p> <p>Dr Roth agrees, noting that most dogs can see the movement of images and appreciate the sound, but they’re likely not able to interpret changes in colours. So if you’re looking for the right channel to entertain your pooch, live-action programs with noisy animals will probably interest them more than, say, a colourful cartoon like The Lion King.</p> <p><strong>Do dogs know that TV isn't real?</strong></p> <p>So we’ve answered the question of “Do dogs watch TV?” But what about their perception of TV? Do they understand that there’s not a “real” dog or cat romping on the 2D screen, or do they think it’s the real thing? “We have not been able to establish that pets can distinguish real versus fantasy,” says Dr Roth. The only one who knows for certain is the dog himself, and he’s not telling.</p> <p>Dr Ahn agrees that it’s hard to know exactly what dogs think about television and whether it’s real or not. “But,” he says, “one might deduce that over time, dogs are at least able to sense that there is limited (one-way) interactivity with a television.”</p> <p><strong>Why do some dogs watch TV and others don't?</strong></p> <p>Why does your best friend like action movies while you prefer to binge-watch Bridgerton? Because just like dogs, we all have different tastes and interests – though dogs’ interest in TV may have something to do with their breed. Dr Roth says this mostly comes down to attention span and personality. Dogs with a strong prey drive (think Dobermans and other dogs that like to chase cats) “are sensitive to small environmental movements and are more likely to react to the movement on TV. Calm dog breeds,” she adds, citing Golden Retrievers as an example, “are less likely to be reactive and have their attention captivated by the TV.”</p> <p>Dr Ahn notes that the type of programming may also play a role in the dog’s level of interest. “For example,” he says, “a 24-hour news channel may be less stimulating to a dog compared with a channel that is broadcasting a dog show.”</p> <p><strong>Should you leave the TV on for your dog when you're not home?</strong></p> <p>According to our veterinary experts, it depends. When you’re away from home, TV can be a useful way to keep your dog entertained and keep them from getting bored or getting up to mischief when you’re not around, as well as lessen separation anxiety. “There are several music video stations that can be really great to keep a pet’s environment friendly,” says Dr Roth. But if the channel plays a variety of content all day, she says there’s always a chance that something distressing to your pet might come on. “I’ve seen pets jump into TVs because they’re chasing something on a screen. Find out what your pet likes and keep to those channels.”</p> <p>And again, as Dr Ahn has noted, the television shouldn’t be used as a replacement for the quality bonding time your dog needs with you. That said, if you want to connect with your pup when you’re away, you can set up Skype to answer calls automatically and “talk” to your dog via video call, or use the Barkio app to leave soothing messages for your dog. Just remember: This can be a comfort to some pets, but potentially a stressor to others who might get confused that their human magically appears onscreen and then disappears. And watch out – if your dog figures out how to call you at work, things could get a little awkward during your next staff meeting!</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/do-dogs-actually-watch-tv" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Family & Pets

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New fines of over $100k for owners of dogs that attack a person

<p>Queensland is taking a strong stance on dog attacks with the introduction of new legislation aimed at holding owners accountable for the actions of their pets.</p> <p>The proposed laws, set to be introduced into the state parliament, come as a response to the increasing incidents of serious harm caused by dangerous dogs. If passed, the legislation will not only significantly increase fines for irresponsible dog owners but will also enforce a ban on five specific breeds deemed as posing a higher risk.</p> <p>The breeds targeted by the legislation include Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanese Tosa, American Pit Bull Terrier or Pit Bull Terrier, and Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario. These breeds have been singled out due to their perceived potential for aggression and the severity of harm they can inflict. The legislation aims to mitigate the risks associated with these breeds by implementing strict measures.</p> <p>Under the proposed legislation, owners whose dogs cause death or grievous bodily harm and have not taken "reasonable steps" to prevent such incidents could face fines of up to $108,000. This marks a significant increase from the current fines outlined in the Animal Management Act. Additionally, the legislation introduces the possibility of a maximum three-year jail term for owners found guilty of negligence in preventing their dogs from causing harm.</p> <p>The laws assure that dogs of the prohibited breeds won't be euthanised. Instead, they will be "grandfathered out", meaning they will not be allowed to have puppies. Furthermore, the legislation puts a halt to the importation of these breeds into Queensland, aiming to curb the growth of the population of potentially dangerous dogs.</p> <p>Mark Furner, Queensland's agriculture minister, emphasised that these laws are designed to put dog owners on notice to be responsible. He pointed out that over the last decade, there has been a 64% increase in emergency department presentations due to attacks by dangerous dogs. Furner stated, "On average each year, councils in Queensland declare 500 dogs as dangerous," highlighting the need for a legislative framework that addresses irresponsible ownership.</p> <p>The new legislation is geared towards making the community safer by placing a heightened focus on the owners of dogs deemed irresponsible. Furner shared a harrowing incident involving a toddler girl who suffered severe wounds from a dog attack, underlining the urgency of such laws to prevent similar tragedies. Notably, 81% of dog attacks in Queensland on average are reported to involve children.</p> <p>In addition to the penalties for serious incidents, the legislation grants local council officers the authority to issue fines to owners who exhibit a "lack of control" over their dogs at off-leash parks. This provision aims to ensure that owners maintain control over their pets, even in public spaces where they may interact with other dogs and people.</p> <p>Queensland's proposed legislation marks a significant step towards promoting responsible dog ownership and safeguarding the community from the risks associated with dangerous breeds. If successfully passed, these laws could serve as a model for other regions grappling with similar issues related to dog attacks and irresponsible ownership.</p> <p><em>Image: Britannica</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Why these dog breeds are ideal for seniors

<p><strong>Reasons why dogs are good for seniors </strong></p> <p>Affectionate, loyal, nurturing: There are lots of reasons why dogs make great companions for seniors. Not only do dogs provide comfort and friendship, but they also help keep seniors healthy and encourage sociability. In fact, a 2019 study found that people who owned dogs were more likely to maintain better heart health and be more active, than those without pets. “Dogs give seniors a reason to get up and move – and walking a dog keeps them fit,” explains veterinarian Dr Anita Kinscher-Juran. Another plus: When you get out of the house for that walk, you have more chances to be social, too, from greeting neighbours on the street to impromptu conversations with fellow dog owners.</p> <p>But adopting a dog is a big decision. Just like with a human companion, you need to understand what you’re looking for in a dog before committing to a long-term living arrangement.</p> <p>Some important points to think about as you search for the best dogs for seniors are energy levels (vets often recommend calm dog breeds for older folks), the size of your home (<a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/pets/13-best-apartment-dogs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">these are the best apartment dogs</a>) and the size of the dog, the breed’s socialness (some breeds, like Pomeranians, make the best emotional support dogs) and a dog’s age and temperament. Health and grooming needs and maintenance requirements (i.e. how often dogs need to be brushed, for instance) are also important considerations. Cocker spaniels, while super cute with their big, long ears, are also known for having frequent ear infections, for instance. And while Havanese, one of the cutest white dog breeds, are very portable, they also require a lot of grooming.</p> <p>The decision to adopt a pet is not one that should be taken lightly. “Bringing a pet into the household is a lifelong decision for that animal,” says Dr Kinscher-Juran. But after thoroughly considering your situation and needs, it’s comforting to know, as Dr Kinscher-Juran says “that there is a dog for everyone and every age.”</p> <p>Here are the top 15 best dogs for seniors.</p> <p><strong>Best overall: Bichon Frise </strong></p> <p>These white powder puffs of a dog are known for their sweet and friendly nature and are perfect for seniors seeking easy companionship – they also make <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/15-best-dogs-for-first-time-owners" target="_blank" rel="noopener">great pets for first-time dog owners</a>. These low-maintenance pups aren’t difficult to potty train and don’t shed much, which is why they are one of the best dogs for older people, Dr Kinscher-Juran says. (But to keep their snow-white hair looking fluffy, they do require grooming every five or so weeks.)</p> <p>Bichons are gentle and playful and they get along well with other pets and children, so you don’t need to put them in another room if the grandkids stop by! At an average of 5 to 8 kilograms, they are also super portable. Not to mention smart. “One of my favourite bichons knew how to give a kiss in three different languages, one of which was Portuguese,” says Dr Kinscher-Juran.</p> <p>Like the best toy dogs, they are perfectly content to sit on your lap for hours every morning, as you read the paper or watch the news. Bichon Frise’s don’t require long, five kilometre hikes to keep them happy, rather they’re fine with 20- to 30-minute leisurely strolls. What they crave most is attention, something seniors often have time to give.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 24 to 30 cms  </p> <p>Weight: 5 to 8 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 14 to 15 years</p> <p><strong>Best lap dog: Cavalier King Charles spaniel</strong></p> <p>If you are looking for one of the best dogs for older people, cavalier King Charles spaniels should be high on your list. It’s easy to fall in love with their big eyes and long ears. And Cavalier King Charles spaniels, in turn, like nothing more than to kiss and cuddle with their owners. Cavalier King Charles spaniels have an eager to please personality, which makes them easier to train.</p> <p>They also only require a moderate amount of exercise, which can be good for less active seniors. Beauty, of course, requires attention. Dr Kinscher-Juran suggests brushing their long luxurious coats once a day, which isn’t hard to do, considering they’re one of the best lap dog breeds!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 3.5 to 33 cms</p> <p>Weight: 5.8 to 8 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years</p> <p><strong>Best apartment dog: Pug</strong></p> <p>If you are looking for one of the best dogs for older people, cavalier King Charles spaniels should be high on your list. It’s easy to fall in love with their big eyes and long ears. And Cavalier King Charles spaniels, in turn, like nothing more than to kiss and cuddle with their owners. Cavalier King Charles spaniels have an eager to please personality, which makes them easier to train.</p> <p>They also only require a moderate amount of exercise, which can be good for less active seniors. Beauty, of course, requires attention. Dr Kinscher-Juran suggests brushing their long luxurious coats once a day, which isn’t hard to do, considering they’re one of the best lap dog breeds!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 3.5 to 33 cms</p> <p>Weight: 5.8 to 8 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years</p> <p><strong>Best small dog: Maltese</strong></p> <p>One of the best small dogs for seniors is the Maltese. These adorable white toy dogs were specifically bred to be companions. Loyal, sweet-natured, calm and adaptable, it’s not hard for a Maltese to quickly become seniors’ best four-legged friend. Though they love following their owners around, all they really need for health is short easy walks. At an average of 2 kilograms, Malteses are also easily transportable (which is a good thing since Malteses don’t like to be left alone too long).</p> <p>Their small size also makes them well suited for apartments or homes with limited space. You can’t mention a Maltese without mentioning their long, silky, white mane, which can be braided or put into a bun. “For the person who wants a living Barbie doll, and loves playing with hair, Malteses are your dog,” Dr. Kinscher-Juran says. But if all that grooming becomes too much, you can have the hair trimmed or shaped down.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 17 to 22 cms</p> <p>Weight: Under 3 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years</p> <p><strong>Most social dog: Havanese</strong></p> <p>Sweet, friendly and eager for attention: Havanese make great companions for seniors who find themselves at home more. As a breed, Haveneses don’t like to be alone for very long. (There’s a reason they’re called Velcro dogs). These super social dogs crave affection and get along well with other breeds and strangers.</p> <p>Their high intelligence makes them easier to train and potty train. And at about 5 kgs, they are easy to carry. Walks might take a bit longer with Haveneses because they will want to try to say hi to everyone. But for seniors, looking for sociability, this is not such a bad thing! That’s why Havaneses are one of the best dogs for seniors.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 22 to 30 cms</p> <p>Weight: 3 to 6 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 14 to 16 years</p> <p><strong>Best house dog: Miniature schnauzers</strong></p> <p>Miniature schnauzers are one of the most adaptable breeds of dogs. Originally bred as a farm dog in Germany, miniature schnauzers are just as content living in an assisted living facility as they are roaming outdoors. Small, sturdy, hypoallergenic and affectionate, miniature schnauzers are great with, say, rambunctious grandchildren.</p> <p>And their calmness – and attunement to the moods of humans – make them excellent therapy animals. Miniature schnauzers both play hard and relax hard. They need a moderate amount of daily exercise but are also good at simply lounging around, while their owners watch TV or make dinner.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 30.5 to 36 cms</p> <p>Weight: 5 to 9 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years</p> <p><strong>Best large dog: Greyhound</strong></p> <p>With their lean bodies, flexible spines, and long legs, greyhounds are known for their athletic ability and for being the fastest dog breed. What is not as well-known is that their gentle and sensitive temperament and minimal grooming needs make them one of the best dogs for seniors. Older, retired racing greyhounds are often the best choice for seniors,. “As racing dogs, they often live on a track without much positive human and social interaction,” Dr Kinscher-Juran says. “When they’re adopted, they’re far more appreciative of the loving home you are providing, and don’t seem to take that for granted.”</p> <p>And though they do need daily exercise, greyhounds – perhaps surprisingly! – are renowned for their laziness. Weighing anywhere from 27 to 31.7 kgs, these gentle giants, are content to lounge around the house, accepting pets and back rubs.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 67 to 76 cms</p> <p>Weight: 27 to 31.7 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 10 to 13 years</p> <p><strong>Best with grandkids: Golden Retrievers</strong></p> <p>Golden retrievers are a large breed with an even larger heart. For seniors looking for gentle dog breeds, golden retrievers are loyal, friendly, intelligent, people-pleasers. They are easy to train, famous for their patience and great with the grandkids. Golden retrievers do require consistent, hard exercise every day, but they are more than content for part of that exercise to consist of finding and retrieving balls in the backyard.</p> <p>Though golden retrievers can weigh up to 34 kgs and more, they still think of themselves as lap dogs. “Golden retrievers are happy to sit with you on the patio at the end of the day, with their head on your lap, watching the sunset,” Dr Kinscher-Juran says.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 54.5 to 61 cms</p> <p>Weight: 25 to 34 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years</p> <p><strong>Best hypoallergenic: Toy Poodle</strong></p> <p>For seniors with allergies or respiratory issues, poodles are one of the best hypoallergenic dog breeds. Poodles have a single-layer coat that doesn’t shed (though all that beautiful, naturally curly hair requires a lot of brushing and grooming!).</p> <p>They come in multiple sizes, from tiny teacup poodles, that weigh between 1.8 to 2.7 kgs to small toy poodles that weigh between 2.7 to 4 kgs to miniature poodles that weigh between 6.8 to 7.7 kgs to standard poodles that weigh between 20.4 to 31.75 kgs. Like the best sort of human companion, poodles are known for both their beauty and their brains. Their high intelligence makes them easy to train (helpful for seniors) and their affectionate personality makes them easy to love. The smaller toy poodle is a top choice for seniors.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 25 cms max</p> <p>Weight: 1.8 to 2.7 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 10 to 18 years</p> <p><strong>Best dog for those who like a clean house: Groodle</strong></p> <p>A cross between poodles and golden retrievers, groodles (or goldendoodles), which weigh between 22.6 to 40 kgs, are known for possessing the best traits of both breeds. They’re loyal, obedient and loving. For seniors with allergies, or those who prefer to avoid daily vacuuming, groodles, who mostly don’t shed and are hypoallergenic, make great companions.</p> <p>You don’t need to have been an experienced pet owner to adopt one: Groodle’s intelligence and easy-going temperament make them easy to train. Groodles do love exercise though, especially swimming. Bonus points if you’re a senior that lives by a body of water!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 48 to 61 cms</p> <p>Weight: 13.6 to 20 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years</p> <p><strong>Best for active seniors: Westies </strong></p> <p>Recognisable by their white mane and dark, almond-shaped eyes, the West Highland white terrier (aka Westie) are friendly, loving companions for active seniors. At 5.8 to 9 kgs, Westies are still small enough to handle and make good apartment dogs – as long as they get in their long, daily walks.</p> <p>Westies really, really like to play. Westies are no softies though: beneath their coat is a well-muscled body. Bred to be rodent killers, Westies require little pampering and they rarely shed. For seniors looking for a little bit of excitement in their days, westies will be sure to keep you on your toes.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 25.5 to 28 cms</p> <p>Weight: 6.8 to 9 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 13 to 15 years</p> <p><strong>Best dog that doesn't bark: Shih Tzu</strong></p> <p>The name Shih Tzu means little lion, but the most fierce thing about this breed is their love for the owner. Shih Tzus bond very quickly with humans, making them great choices for seniors looking for a close canine companion. Weighing an of average 4 to 7 kgs, Shih Tzus, known for their long coats, pack a lot of personality in their small frame.</p> <p>They are a confident, happy-go-lucky breed with a bit of a stubborn streak. But they are less demanding and less yappy than other smaller toy dogs, making them a good choice for seniors who live in apartments. They are also not very energetic and only need a couple of short walks a day, making them perfect for non-active seniors.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 23 to 26.5 cms</p> <p>Weight: 4 to 7 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 10 to 18 years</p> <p><strong>Easiest dog to care for: French bulldog</strong></p> <p>With their big eyes, adorable scrunchy faces, and short legs, there’s a reason why French bulldogs are increasing popular today and one of the easiest dog breeds. Their gentle personality and low energy make them one of the best dogs for seniors with a less active lifestyle. These dogs are not big athletes, a walk around the block is all the exercise they need for the day.</p> <p>French bulldogs’ small size (they weigh about 8.5 to 12.5 kgs) and the fact that they are not big barkers or yappers also make them one of the best apartment dogs. As an additional bonus, they are also excellent cuddlers and incredibly loyal.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 28 to 33 cms</p> <p>Weight: Under 12 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 10 to 12 years</p> <p><strong>Best guard dog: Pomeranian </strong></p> <p>At 1.4 to 3 kgs, Pomeranians look like tiny puffballs. Their small size and affectionate personality make them easy to love. And their ability to remain calm in busy situations also makes them one of the best emotional support dogs, Dr Kinscher-Juran says. Pomeranians – whose hair comes in a variety of colours from white to black to cream – don’t seem to realise their small size.</p> <p>They are very alert, with a tendency to bark, making them excellent guard dogs for seniors. Though Pomeranians are lap dogs, they also have an independent streak, so active seniors don’t need to worry about Pomeranians clinging, like a barnacle, to them all day. Sometimes it’s good to have space!</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 15 to 17.5 cms</p> <p>Weight: 1.4 to 3 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years</p> <p><strong>Best dog for seniors with a backyard: Beagle </strong></p> <p>For seniors who love being outdoors and would like an impetus to exercise more, beagles are a good choice. Energetic, active and sociable, beagles love to play and take long walks. And unlike other smaller dogs, they don’t require a ton of babysitting. They’re fine – content even – being left alone for a while. For seniors who don’t love playing beautician, beagles, with their short, dense, wash-and-wear coat, are a good choice.</p> <p>They are pretty low maintenance when it comes to grooming. Younger beagles require consistent exercise – so seniors might find adopting an older beagle a less physically demanding choice, Dr Kinscher-Juran says.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Breed Overview</em></span></p> <p>Height: 33 to 38 cms</p> <p>Weight: 9 to 13.6 kgs</p> <p>Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/15-best-dogs-for-seniors?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Family & Pets

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"Roo-jitsu": Former cop fends off 2m-tall kangaroo trying to drown his dog

<p>In an unusual and somewhat comical turn of events, a former Victorian police officer, Mick Moloney, recently found himself in a rather unexpected altercation with a kangaroo while out walking his dogs near the Murray River.</p> <p>The story, as bizarre as it sounds, unfolded last Sunday when Moloney's peaceful stroll took a dramatic twist, involving an agitated kangaroo, one of his beloved dogs, and an heroic rescue mission.</p> <p>Moloney, a resident of Mildura, was no stranger to the area and had often enjoyed leisurely walks along the scenic Murray River with his canine companions. On this particular day, his dogs were noticeably quieter than usual as they strolled by the water's edge. It wasn't until "Hutchy", one of Moloney's dogs, went missing that he began to sense something was amiss.</p> <p>Describing his dogs as "always in the water," the former policeman began to suspect that the tranquil riverbanks might be harbouring an unexpected visitor. And his suspicions were soon confirmed when he laid eyes on an agitated kangaroo standing in the river, his arms submerged, and his gaze locked onto Moloney.</p> <p>What unfolded next was an extraordinary encounter between man and marsupial, captured on camera and later shared widely online. In the video, Moloney can be heard demanding that the kangaroo release Hutchy from its grip.</p> <p>Despite attempts to scare the kangaroo away, the situation escalated as the roo retaliated by striking Moloney and sending his phone plunging into the water. This unexpected punch-up left Moloney with a few scratches and a sore forearm, but both he and Hutchy ultimately made it safely to the riverbank.</p> <p>Moloney <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@the.tiser/video/7290318689390300417" target="_blank" rel="noopener">shared the video </a>on his Facebook page, where it quickly went viral, garnering hundreds of shares and reactions. The bizarre incident even led to some humorous commentary, with people joking about "roo-jitsu" and the unexpected martial arts showdown with the kangaroo.</p> <p>Moloney, who is a mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu teacher, emphasised that he did not intend to be cruel to the kangaroo, highlighting his love for animals. Despite the unexpected turn of events, he expressed that he has no plans to change his walking route along the river, suggesting that he and his dogs will continue using their favourite walking spot.</p> <p>As Moloney playfully put it, "My tussling with roo days are pretty much done though, cause that thing was strong. Let's just call it a draw." The bizarre incident serves as a reminder that encounters with wildlife can take unexpected turns, even in the most picturesque of settings, and that sometimes, a little humour can help us cope with life's quirks and oddities.</p> <p><em>Images: Tiktok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Family devastated after council mistakenly kills their dog

<p>A couple from New Zealand is grappling with profound sorrow following the euthanasia of their cherished family pet, Sarge, due to a heart-wrenching case of mistaken identity. Sarge, a dog equipped with a microchip for identification purposes, tragically met his end, according to a statement from the Gisborne District Council in New Zealand's North Island.</p> <p>The council expressed deep regret over the incident, attributing it to "human error", explaining that Sarge had been tragically misidentified as another dog slated for euthanasia on the same day. This grievous mix-up has left Sarge's owners, Logan and Piri, shattered.</p> <p>Sarge, a microchipped and well-cared-for dog residing in a securely fenced rural property, was affectionately described by the couple's friend, Kara Hull, who spoke on behalf of the distraught owners. Hull, <a href="https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/gisborne/300976911/beloved-family-dog-killed-by-gisborne-district-council-by-mistake" target="_blank" rel="noopener">speaking to Stuff.co.nz</a> on behalf of Logan and Piri, conveyed their devastation and criticised the council's response, likening it to a hypothetical scenario where a human life is accidentally taken, followed by a mere media statement.</p> <p>Sarge was also an integral part of Hull's fitness boot camp business, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/hullkfit/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Hullkfit</a>, and had become something of a mascot. He was adored and recognised by clients who frequented the fitness sessions. Hull shared fond memories of Sarge, portraying him as the epitome of a gentle and friendly canine, rarely uttering a bark. She emphasised that Sarge was a beloved family member and an indispensable presence in their lives.</p> <p>On that fateful Friday, while Logan and Piri were at work, a council animal officer picked up Sarge and transported him to the pound, despite the protests of concerned neighbours who vouched for his safety. Despite the owners being called to retrieve their pet, Sarge was tragically euthanised before they could reach him.</p> <p>The couple received the devastating news from a council representative who arrived at their doorstep, informing them of the fatal mistake. Their grief was compounded when they saw Sarge's lifeless body, shrouded in a bag, upon their arrival at the pound. To their horror, they discovered that he had been euthanised using a bolt gun, a method that the SPCA opposes for dogs, advocating instead for euthanasia by a veterinarian through lethal injection.</p> <p>A council manager visited Logan and Piri on Saturday, but according to Kara their anguish was too overwhelming for them to engage in a conversation. The Gisborne District Council has issued an unreserved apology and initiated a thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to this tragic error.</p> <p>Council leadership has reached out to the grieving family to address the matter further, acknowledging the irreplaceable bond between families and their pets. "We understand that nothing can replace the deep bond and memories shared between a family and their pet, and we are deeply saddened by the unfortunate event."</p> <p>"Council is also providing support to the Animal Control officer involved, who is deeply remorseful and shaken."</p> <p>"We will take appropriate measures to ensure we learn from this and ensure it does not happen again. Gisborne District Council strives to provide an excellent standard of service to our community. In this case, it's clear, we have failed. We sincerely apologise."</p> <p><em>Images: Facebook / Hullkfit</em></p>

Family & Pets

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An expert’s top 5 reasons why dogs can be considered exceptional animals

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-starling-461103">Melissa Starling</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Dogs are important to a lot of humans, but what makes them so?</p> <p>Apart from being warm, soft and capable of inspiring our unconditional love, there are a number of unique characteristics that set dogs apart from other animals.</p> <p>As a dog researcher, animal behaviour consultant and canophile (which means I <em>love</em> dogs), let me share five traits that I think make dogs so special.</p> <h2>Dogs are hypersocial</h2> <p>We all know those golden retriever-type dogs that appear absurdly delighted to meet any new social being. It’s hard not to be taken in by their infectious friendliness. These furry, hypersocial creatures have some key genetic differences even to other domestic dogs.</p> <p>Most fascinatingly, these genetic differences are in the area of the genome <a href="https://www.insidescience.org/news/rare-human-syndrome-may-explain-why-dogs-are-so-friendly">associated</a> with hypersociability in people with a genetic condition called Williams-Beuren syndrome. Although people with this syndrome experience negative health effects, they also tend to be very open, engaging and sociable.</p> <p>Not all dogs fall into this hypersocial category – but even those that don’t are unusually accepting of unfamiliar people and dogs.</p> <p>Unlike other social wild canids such as wolves, domestic dogs can quite happily live in harmony with different species, as well as individuals of their own species that aren’t from their family. This is what makes it so easy to slot dogs into our lives.</p> <h2>Dogs are wired to understand us</h2> <p>Humans have selectively bred dogs for many generations. And in many cases, we’ve bred them to take direction to help us in a wide variety of jobs – including being companions to us. This has led to domestic dogs being born with an interest in humans.</p> <p>From an early age, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982221006023">puppies are attracted</a> to human faces. While dogs are as co-operative as wolves, they tend to be submissive towards humans and follow our directions – whereas wolves are bolder and more likely to lead when <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1709027114">co-operating with humans</a>.</p> <p>Dogs also learn to follow our gaze, and show a left-gaze bias when looking at human faces. This means they spend more time looking at the left side of our faces (which would be the right side from our perspective). This bias emerges in several species when they are processing emotional information, which shows that dogs are <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0152393">reading our faces</a> to figure out how we’re feeling.</p> <p>For a while it was also thought dogs were particularly attentive to human gestures such as pointing – but recent research suggests many domestic species and some wild animal species can also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7555673/">follow pointing</a>.</p> <h2>Dogs come in countless shapes and sizes</h2> <p>No other species comes in such a huge variety of shapes and sizes as domestic dogs. Not even cats or horses display the same diversity.</p> <p>The largest dogs may be close to 25 times the size of the smallest! Beyond that, we have dogs with drop ears and prick ears and everything in between, tails and no tails, or bob tails, short legs and long legs, long noses and short noses – and a huge variety of coat colours, lengths and textures.</p> <p>For dogs, this huge variation might mean they have more to learn than other animals when it comes to understanding their own kind. For example, owners of herding breed dogs may find their dog a bit confused, or even defensive, when meeting a very different short-faced breed such as a bulldog.</p> <p>For us, it means we should appreciate how the size and shape of dogs can influence <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0149403">their behaviour</a> and experiences. For instance, dogs with longer noses have sharper vision, while dogs with a lighter build tend to be more energetic and fearful.</p> <h2>Dogs form deep emotional bonds</h2> <p>Domestic dogs have been shown to form attachment bonds with human caregivers that are very similar to those formed between <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0065296">children and parents</a>.</p> <p>This may partly explain why they can read our <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10426098/">emotional signals</a>, why they become distressed (and try to help us) when <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0231742">we are distressed</a>, and why MRI studies show dogs are happy when they smell <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635714000473">their owners</a>.</p> <p>It may also be why they panic when separated from us. Dogs’ attachment to humans goes beyond being hypersocial. To them, we are a lot more than the food we provide and the balls we throw. We are an attachment figure akin to a parent.</p> <h2>Dogs can help us be our best selves</h2> <p>Most dog owners would agree their dog brings out the best in them. They can confide in their dog and love them unconditionally – sometimes more easily than they can another human.</p> <p>Dogs are playing important roles in animal-assisted therapy, where their nonjudgmental presence can be a calming influence and <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40489-019-00188-5">facilitate social interactions</a>. They can even help children <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10643-022-01392-5">learn to read</a> and <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/10/21/5171">alleviate anxiety</a>.</p> <p>Although assisting humans with their emotional problems can be a difficult task for such an emotionally sensitive species, research suggests the right dogs can rise to the task if their workload is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1558787818302193">managed carefully</a>.</p> <p>Horses are also used in animal-assisted therapy, as are some smaller furry animals. However, dogs are more portable and can remain at ease in stimulating environments such as courtrooms, schools and airports. They are uniquely placed to accompany us wherever we go.</p> <h2>Paws for thought</h2> <p>We might like to think dogs are special for some of the traits we value in humans, such as intelligence, selflessness or a loving nature. But really dogs are exceptional for simply being dogs.</p> <p>They are social acrobats that can find social harmony wherever they go. They have rich emotional lives in which they co-exist with different species and can even forge bonds <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89dCR3VinMM&amp;ab_channel=WCCO-CBSMinnesota">outside of their own species</a>.</p> <p>They are also generally tolerant of our primate ways – and good at receiving our love. And for me that’s enough.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211832/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-starling-461103">Melissa Starling</a>, Postdoctoral Researcher in Veterinary Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/an-experts-top-5-reasons-why-dogs-can-be-considered-exceptional-animals-211832">original article</a>.</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Iconic Dulux dog gives birth to adorable puppies

<p>The iconic Dulux dog has given birth to seven adorable Old English Sheepdog puppies. </p> <p>The heart-warming news was shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, by the global paint brand to celebrate International Dog Day. </p> <p>The pups can be seen running around on wobbly legs and playing with each other before resting on their mother, Olivia. </p> <p>Olivia, who lives in Lincolnshire in England, is the current the face of the Dulux ads, with the brand using Old English Sheepdogs in their advertisements for more than 60 years. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">This International Dog Day, we're introducing the next generation of Dulux puppies.... Say hello to our fluffy friends 🐶 <a href="https://t.co/NApCnZUHT3">pic.twitter.com/NApCnZUHT3</a></p> <p>— Dulux UK | Colour &amp; Inspiration (@duluxuk) <a href="https://twitter.com/duluxuk/status/1695346808568861170?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 26, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Olivia's pups may already have their future in showbiz sorted, with Dulux calling the six-week-old puppies "stars in their own right", hinting they may appear in ads as they get older. </p> <p>Dulux Creative Director and Colour Expert Marianne Shillingford said, “As proud sponsors of the Old English Sheepdog Rescue &amp; Welfare Fund, we’re delighted to be able to finally share the exciting news of the irresistible puppy additions to the Dulux family.”</p> <p>“The pups are stars in their own right, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them in the years to come.”</p> <p>The beloved breed of dog has been synonymous with the Dulux brand since first appearing in a Dulux ad in 1961 when the director’s Old English Sheepdog, Dash, crashed one of the adverts. </p> <p>The camera and cast loved Dash so much that he made it into the ad after the final edit. </p> <p>After Dash, pup Digby took the reins - and was perhaps the most famous Dulux dog after picking up a Hollywood film credit. </p> <p>Between 1995 and 2002, the position was held by Mash, followed by Willow and, most recently, two Old English Sheepdogs, Madison and Olivia.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Dulux</em></p>

Family & Pets

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Doggone it! Groom's passport eaten by pup just days ahead of international wedding

<p>A couple's dream wedding abroad has been put in jeopardy after their cheeky golden retriever destroyed the groom-to-be's passport just weeks before their big day. </p> <p>Donato Frattaroli and his fiancée Magda, from Boston in the US, have planned their dream nuptials in Italy, with their big day coming up on August 31st. </p> <p>The couple went to city hall to fill out the intention of marriage forms a week before they were set to fly out, when Donato realised their dog, a golden retriever named Chickie, has destroyed his passport. </p> <p>The dog had chewed through several pages of the passport, rendering it completely useless. </p> <p>Donato said that Chickie, short for chicken cutlet, knew the damage she had caused.</p> <p>"She kinda knew what she did and all of a sudden, she got really cuddly, you know, head on the lap kind of thing," he told <a href="https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/living/story/dog-eats-groom-bes-passport-weeks-international-wedding-102418832" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Good Morning America</em></a>. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Dog ate my ... passport?!</p> <p>A Boston couple’s golden retriever chewed through multiple pages of groom Donatto Frattaroli’s passport just days before they were set to fly to Italy for their wedding. <a href="https://t.co/LN7fhOtOr7">pic.twitter.com/LN7fhOtOr7</a></p> <p>— Good Morning America (@GMA) <a href="https://twitter.com/GMA/status/1693596934467191192?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 21, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Donato has now contacted state officials to help them get to the altar in Italy in time.</p> <p>"I'm just a little stressed," Frattaroli said. </p> <p>"Luckily, Congressman (Stephen) Lynch's office and Senator (Ed) Markey's office have been super responsive. They've been in touch, at least with me and the State Department, to try to expedite things and get a new passport."</p> <p>"Keep my fingers crossed and, hopefully, everything will work itself out."</p> <p>Donato attended a passport appointment on Monday to get the important document, and is crossing his fingers it arrives before their flight departs on Friday. </p> <p>The couple told local Boston news outlet WCVB that if Frattaroli's passport replacement doesn't come in time, Magda and their wedding guests will travel to Italy without Frattaroli and he'll welcome them all home when they return to the US.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Good Morning America / WCVB TV</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Nick Kyrgios and girlfriend welcome new family member

<p>Tennis star Nick Kyrgios and his girlfriend Costeen Hatzi have showed off the latest addition to their family in an adorable selfie. </p> <p>The couple took to Instagram to share the sweet selfie with their beloved dachshund puppy Boo, who they brought home on August 18.</p> <p>“My family,”  she captioned the post with a paw print and heart emojis. </p> <p>The tennis star responded to the photo with a similar comment: “My beautiful family”.</p> <p>Friends and family took to the comments to compliment the couple's fur baby.</p> <p>“Mum and dad,” New Zealand tennis player Ajeet Rai wrote.</p> <p>“She’s perfect 🤩,” commented one fan about Boo. </p> <p>“That doggie looks just like Nick 😘 I swear … look at their eyes! 🥰” wrote another. </p> <p>“Awwh that tummy!🤗,” commented a third.</p> <p>"Look at bubbas little belly 🥹" wrote a fourth.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CwMCoTkv7if/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CwMCoTkv7if/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Costeen (@costeenhatzi)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The couple are clearly smitten with their new pup as Hatzi has been sharing updates about the pup since they first announced its adoption. </p> <p>“Newest member of the family,” she captioned a previous series of photos of Kyrgios cuddling the pup which she posted on her Instagram story on August 19. </p> <p>Kyrgios reposted the photo with the caption: “My beautiful girl”.</p> <p>The pair started dating in December 2021 and although there were <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/nick-kyrgios-girlfriend-speaks-for-the-first-time-on-engagement-rumours" target="_blank" rel="noopener">engagement rumours </a>floating around, the pair are currently taking it slow and going with the flow. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

Family & Pets

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The 15 dog breeds perfect for first-time owners

<p><strong>First-time pup parent</strong></p> <p>Becoming a first-time dog owner is a truly rewarding experience. You’re gaining a new loyal best friend and have a wonderful adventure before you. That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that the process also comes with some little curveballs as you learn the ropes of pup parenthood.</p> <p>In addition to the dog’s size – be it a toy breed, medium breed, or giant breed – it’s also important to consider the dog’s personality. For example, do you want a <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/the-best-low-maintenance-dogs-for-busy-people" target="_blank" rel="noopener">low-maintenance dog</a> or a <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/11-dog-breeds-that-can-be-left-alone" target="_blank" rel="noopener">dog breed that does well when left alone</a>? Or are you perhaps seeking the <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/the-best-dog-breeds-for-kids" target="_blank" rel="noopener">best dog breeds for kids</a>?</p> <p>“When you are thinking about getting a dog for the first time, the first thing to ask yourself is what you envision your life with a dog looking like,” says Marissa Sunny, a canine behaviour specialist. “If you want a dog to get you out of the house and go running with, then a high-energy working breed may be for you! If you are looking for a Netflix buddy, then an adult or senior dog may be for you.” And while purebreds are wonderful, there are many mixed breeds available for adoption in your local shelters that make wonderful pets, even for first-time dog owners.</p> <p>To help you determine the best first dog for new owners – and avoid some of the worst dogs for first-time owners – we’re showcasing some of the most popular dog breeds that are easy to train, groom and bond with.</p> <p><strong>Bichon Frise</strong></p> <p>Known for its loving and playful personality, the Bichon Frise is an intelligent and charming lapdog who befriends just about everyone they meet. They are one of the best dogs for beginners since they’re typically easy to train and are great with kids.</p> <p>Another perk is that their fluffy white coat is hypoallergenic, making them ideal for those concerned about dog allergies. They do need to be bathed about once a month and benefit from a good brushing several times a week. A visit to the groomer every four to six weeks can also help keep them looking tip-top.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Golden retrievers </strong></p> <p>Arguably one of the easiest dog breeds for first-time owners, the golden retriever is one of the most beloved canines for good reason. This lovable pup is exceptionally friendly and devoted to its owners. They are also known for being obedient and easy to train, so teaching them to fetch, sit and stay is likely to be a breeze, which is one of the reasons many service dogs are golden retrievers.</p> <p>Perhaps most important, though, is their gregarious and outgoing personalities, which make them fantastic as first-time family dogs, as well. They benefit from a good brushing once a week and perhaps more during their twice-annual shedding spree.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 5/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Papillon</strong></p> <p>The papillon – which means butterfly in French – is another wee-sized pup weighing in at only 4.5kg tops. They are an affectionate dog breed and they also get along well with children. Though very small, this toy breed is surprisingly athletic and spritely and benefits greatly from playtime.</p> <p>One potential drawback is that they’re not too keen on hanging out with other animals. However, they are surprisingly easy to groom thanks to their lack of an undercoat. A good bath every few months and a once-monthly grooming session are all they need.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Labrador retriever </strong></p> <p>The Labrador retriever is another popular dog breed. They are most noted for their outgoing personality and friendly demeanour, and they are also one of the best-behaved dog breeds. These playful, easy-going pups – which come in chocolate, black, and yellow – are very sociable.</p> <p>This allows not only for easy bonding with the entire family but with other animals, too. Because they love to make their owners happy, labs are also one of the easiest dog breeds to train. Occasional baths and brushing are all this dog needs to keep it looking its best.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 5/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Cavalier King Charles spaniel </strong></p> <p>A sweet combination of a small toy breed and spaniel, the Cavalier King Charles spaniel is a gentle, graceful, athletic and high-spirited little pup. They make our list of the best first dogs for new owners because of their adaptability and smarts, which make them both easy to get along with and train. These unfailingly sweet pups are also keen on pleasing their humans, making them excellent for a broad ranch of owners, including couples, families, seniors, and individuals.</p> <p>They are also known for being effective therapy dogs, too. They do require a little more grooming than other pups on our list and need daily brushing, weekly ear-checks, and monthly nail trims.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5 </em></span></p> <p><strong>German shepherd</strong></p> <p>The noble German shepherd is an excellent dog for first-time owners for many reasons. For starters, they are exceptionally smart pups that are easy to train, which is one reason why they are utilised in K-9 units.</p> <p>Second, they are gentle with their owners and unfailingly loyal – to the end that they make great watchdogs. Finally, German shepherds are easy to groom. The AKC says they benefit from brushing a few times a week to remove loose hairs and that they only need occasional baths.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 5/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Standard poodle</strong></p> <p>Recognised for their fluffy, pillow-like hypoallergenic coats, the poodle is a notably smart and athletic family companion. Because of these positive qualities, poodles have been bred with many other breeds to get designer breeds including the labradoodle, groodle, spoodle, and cavoodle.</p> <p>Do note that as puppies, poodles can be high-energy, so they’ll need to be able to run off that steam. They also should be brushed daily and professionally groomed about once every month or two to combat matting and keep their coats lustrous.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Basenji</strong></p> <p>You might not be too familiar with the Basenji, but this smart and adaptable quiet dog breed makes our list because of how easy-going and low-key it is. Some even describe this dog as “cat-like” in its independence and quiet demeanour. While it’s not overtly lovey-dovey like some breeds, the Basenji is perfect for first-time owners who tend to be gone often and prefer a pup that’s not always at their ankles.</p> <p>The AKC says their short coat is also simple to care for. Just give them a once-over every week or two – and no bathing required unless they get into something.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Yorkshire terrier</strong></p> <p>A truly petite-sized pup, the adorable Yorkie is a tiny terrier that weighs in at only seven pounds. Though tiny, they do have major personalities! This breed has a reputation for being brave, tenacious and sprightly. They are also exceptionally friendly.</p> <p>The breed’s long, low-allergen coat mimics human hair more than dog fur, making them one of the more popular dogs for those who deal with pet allergies. The trade-off is that their long hair does require daily brushing, weekly bathing and regular professional groomings.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 3/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Pugs</strong></p> <p>Survey any pug owner and they’ll likely be quick to tell you that this breed is one of the best family companions out there. The adaptable pug gets along with basically everyone – including kids, seniors and other animals – and thrives in both the city and country.</p> <p>Pugs also enjoy making their owners happy, which helps make training them a breeze. Another bonus: their coat is considered low maintenance and only needs weekly brushing to control light shedding.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 5/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Whippet</strong></p> <p>Don’t confuse the whippet for a greyhound! Though they do look similar, the whippet is its own breed (and actually quite a bit smaller). This lean and elegant pup is a lightning-quick runner that enjoys having a good chase in the backyard. As long as it’s getting plenty of exercise, this breed can fare well in an apartment or a house with a yard. Another perk is that these guys barely bark.</p> <p>Also, their short coat is very easy to care for and only requires weekly brushing and occasional baths. While smart, the whippet has a bit more of a mischievous personality that can be a little tricky to reign in when training.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Great Dane</strong></p> <p>Don’t be intimidated by the Great Dane’s mighty stature; this pup is a true gentle giant. This sweet-natured, patient, ultra-friendly pup bonds with its family owners quickly and remains loyal through and through – they’re even great with children. However gentle, the Great Dane also makes for a courageous and vigilant watchdog as well.</p> <p>Regarding training, this breed does benefit from professional obedience training in order to harness its full potential. They also should be brushed weekly, bathed occasionally, and have their nails trimmed monthly.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 3/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Irish setter</strong></p> <p>If you’re in the market for a lovable, friendly pup that’s perhaps not quite as well-known as other breeds, the Irish setter might just be your match. These sweet dogs get along with, and bond quickly, with everyone they meet – including kids, adults, seniors, and other animals.</p> <p>They do tend to be a bit on the rambunctious side, so a playful and active setting is ideal. They are also eager to please and respond well to patient training, notes the AKC. Moderate grooming is required, including twice-weekly brushing, monthly nail trims, and occasional baths.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Bernese mountain dog</strong></p> <p>The powerful and sweet-natured Bernese mountain dog is a family companion that will bring joy to any home. They’re on our list of the best dogs for beginners because they are easy to train, exceptionally patient with everyone (including kiddos), and get along easily with many personalities and even other animals.</p> <p>Their big size can be intimidating, but they’re big softies who love to stick close to their humans. In fact, they can be a little shy! Frequent shedding is more of an issue with this breed, and they require a good brushing two to three times a week.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: 4/5</em></span></p> <p><strong>Mixed breeds</strong></p> <p>We’ve included many purebreds on this list, but we don’t want to leave out mixed breeds and “mutts.” Though adoptable animals from the shelter can come with some specific needs, many will be forever grateful to have you as their owner.</p> <p>When seeking a pup to adopt, we recommend looking to their personalities – versus specific breed – to determine if they’re a fit for your lifestyle. “Your local shelter or rescue can help you find the perfect match for your family,” says Sunny.</p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>Ease of care: varies</em></span></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/15-best-dogs-for-first-time-owners?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Family & Pets

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Rescued sailor speaks after being adrift for months with his dog

<p dir="ltr">Australian sailor Timothy Shaddock has spoken up about the three months he spent lost at sea with nothing but his dog Bella.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 54-year-old was rescued by a Mexican tuna boat in the Pacific Ocean after a helicopter spotted his incapacitated catamaran 1900 km from land.</p> <p dir="ltr">When he was found by the Maria Delia crew, which is part of the Grupomar fleet, Shaddock and his dog were in a “precarious” state after surviving three months without provisions and shelter.</p> <p dir="ltr">Shaddock, who was sailing from Mexico to French Polynesia lost contact because his boat’s electronic system was damaged during rough seas.</p> <p dir="ltr">When the helicopter first discovered him, they threw him a drink and flew away before returning with the tuna trawler to rescue him. This was his first contact with humans since early May.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the horrifying ordeal and the fear of not being able to survive an impending hurricane, the sailor remained positive and said that he enjoyed being out at sea.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I did enjoy being at sea. I enjoyed being out there," he told reporters during a news conference in Manzanillo, Mexico on Tuesday, after he safely made it back to land.</p> <p dir="ltr">"But when things get tough out there, you know, you have to survive. And then when you get saved, you feel like you want to live. So, I'm very grateful."</p> <p dir="ltr">Shaddock said that he passed the time by fixing things and tried to stay positive by going into the water to “just enjoy” it.</p> <p dir="ltr">The sailor survived on a diet of raw fish after the storm knocked out his electronics and ability to cook.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I did a lot of fishing,” Shaddock said. “There was a lot of tuna sushi.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The emaciated sailor who survived was immediately given food, water and medication upon being rescued.</p> <p dir="ltr">In one of the photos shared by the Grupomar, a thin and bearded Shaddock was pictured in the boat's cabin with a blood pressure cuff around his arm and a huge smile on his face despite the entire ordeal.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a few others, Bella was pictured lying on the deck and receiving pats for being the bravest pup. Shaddock expressed his gratitude for his loyal companion.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Bella found me in Mexico, she’s Mexican. She is the spirit of the middle of the country, and she wouldn’t let me go,” he said. “She’s amazing, that dog is something else.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’m just grateful she’s alive. She’s a lot more brave than me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">He revealed that the hardest part of surviving was the fatigue, but this incident will not stop him from going into the ocean in the future.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’ll always be in the water, I don’t know how far out in the ocean I’ll be,” he said.</p> <p><em>Images: ABC News/ 9news/ Facebook</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Why do dogs sploot?

<p><strong>Why do dogs sploot? Veterinarians explain the cute canine behaviour</strong></p> <p>Our pups have a knack for expressing all kinds of dog behaviour through facial and body language, including their dog sleeping position. One of the cutest things they do is the dog sploot. Although adorable, seeing your dog in this unnatural position is kind of strange – so you might wonder if dog splooting is normal. “Most dogs sploot because they are keeping cool, stretching out and relaxing,” says veterinarian Linda Simon. Well, that’s a relief.</p> <p>Still, there are times when splooting could be a sign that something is amiss, which is why learning more facts about dogs can help us understand them better.</p> <p><strong>What is splooting?</strong></p> <p>‘Splooting’, or ‘frogging’ is defined as the posture a dog takes when their belly is flat against the ground and their hind legs are stretched out behind them,” says veterinarian Jamie Whittenburg. But where did the word sploot come from?</p> <p>Who coined the word is a mystery, but Dictionary.com says that lexicographer Grant Barrett suspects sploot may stem from ‘splat’, to describe the appearance of the pose. The word sploot may be part of a growing vocabulary of doggy slang that uses cute, deliberate misspellings to lovingly describe our dogs’ quirks and physical appearances.</p> <p><strong>Is splooting OK for dogs?</strong></p> <p>Overall, splooting is harmless and doesn’t cause pain. Though it’s important to know that every dog is different, and while splooting may be the ultimate way to stretch and relax for one dog, it might not ever be another dog’s thing. “Certain dogs may have physical limitations or conditions that make splooting uncomfortable or even painful for them,” says Dr Beach. Additionally, dogs with joint issues, muscle strains or injuries may find certain positions, including splooting, uncomfortable.</p> <p><strong>Why might a dog sploot?</strong></p> <p>Most dogs lie on the ground this way to feel good. While it’s not common, a splooting dog may have certain medical conditions too. Here are a few reasons why dogs do it.</p> <p><strong>To stretch and relax</strong></p> <p>Dogs know splooting feels good, but you might be wondering why it does. This cute doggy pose can relieve tension or pressure on their lower back and hips and stretch and help align their spine. “Splooting requires flexibility of the hip joints as well as the muscles in the hind legs,” says Dr Whittenburg. “Dogs tend to [go into] this position when they are relaxed and comfortable.” Usually, puppies and younger dogs have an easier time sprawling out into a sploot, but you might see older dogs doing it too.</p> <p><strong>To cool off</strong></p> <p>Though panting is the primary way to cool down after a lightning round of dog zoomies or a long walk on a hot day, some dogs may sploot to drop their body temperature. “Dogs cool their bellies on the floor, since they don’t sweat like humans do,” says veterinarian Marla Beach.</p> <p>Dogs that sploot may seek out surfaces like cold tiles, timber flooring or a grassy area in the shade. “The dog stretches out and gets more of their abdomen in contact with cooler ground in an effort to dissipate more heat,” says Dr Simon.</p> <p><strong>The dog has short legs</strong></p> <p>Various dog breeds can do the dog sploot, but the adorable short-leg dog breeds naturally ease into this yoga-esque pose more comfortably than other breeds. For example, the body of corgis, dachshunds, staffys and French bulldogs allow for a greater range of movement in the hip joints, making it easier to stretch their hind legs. “The anatomical structure of their hips and joints may be more flexible, enabling them to adopt positions like splooting more effortlessly compared with breeds with different body proportions,” says Dr Beach.</p> <p>Still, even if you have a dog breed known for splooting, each dog has their favourite stretch, and splooting may not be one of their go-to moves.</p> <p><strong>The dog has arthritis </strong></p> <p>If your older dog has never splooted before, they’re probably not doing it to relax or cool down. “Splooting would not be an expected new behaviour in an older dog,” says Dr Simon. “Rather, when the behaviour starts in their senior years, this would be a sign of an emerging medical issue such as arthritis.” Arthritis is a common health issue that can severely limit your dog’s quality of life as they get older. It can cause the bones and joints to rub together due to tissue damage or cartilage loss.</p> <p>Since dogs can’t speak to us to say they’re hurting, pet owners have to look for warning signs that they are in pain. Dogs may have difficulty getting up after sleeping or napping, have less interest in walking or playing or have a limp or overall stiffness. When your dog is in pain, they might not want to be touched or petted and be a bit cranky. Speak to your vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms. With arthritis, the most effective pain management for dogs begins sooner rather than later.</p> <p><strong>The dog has hip dysplasia </strong></p> <p>It’s rare, but joint problems such as hip dysplasia, a deformity of the ball and socket joint of the hip, may lead to splooting in some cases. But there should be other signs that the dog has hip dysplasia too. “When splooting is associated with hip dysplasia, we may notice a ‘bunny hop’ run, stiff walking or reluctance to play,” says Dr Simon.</p> <p>Hip dysplasia is typically seen in larger dog breeds. During puppyhood, the ball and joint should grow at equal rates. When they don’t, the joint has too much laxity, which causes pain that may lead to degenerative joint osteoarthritis or joint disease. Treatment options include medicine, supplements, physical therapy or surgery.</p> <p><strong>When should I worry about a dog splooting?</strong></p> <p>Generally, dog splooting is nothing to worry about, but if you have an older dog that has never splooted before and begins to do so, this should sound an alarm bell. “Older dogs are more prone to certain musculoskeletal diseases, including arthritis and ruptured knee ligaments,” says Dr Simon.</p> <p>For dogs of any age that have never splooted before, have difficulty getting up, appear to be in pain or are showing signs of heat stroke in dogs, seek veterinary care right way, adds Dr Whittenburg.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/pets/why-do-dogs-sploot" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Family & Pets

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Brave dog owner speaks out after harrowing ordeal

<p dir="ltr">Eleanor Booth has spoken out after she was forced to defend her Jack Russell terrier from a vicious attack by two Irish wolfhounds. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 34-year-old was walking her dog Indi on the popular walking track in south Sydney when they were set upon by the two dogs being walked by a man whose identity remains a mystery.</p> <p dir="ltr">Eleanor ran into a muddy creek to seek shelter, where they stayed for 30 minutes as they tried to fend off the animals until eventually being rescued by police armed with pepper spray.</p> <p dir="ltr">After suffering from critical injuries sustained during the ordeal, Indi <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/lifestyle/family-pets/tragic-end-for-indi-the-jack-russell-after-he-and-owner-mauled-in-vicious-attack">tragically died</a> on Monday evening after being rushed into veterinary intensive care. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It was heartbreaking, she was killed in my arms ... I am genuinely lucky to be alive if they had decided to attack me I could have died,” Ms Booth told <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/dog-attack/pet-dies-after-being-critically-injured-alongside-owner-in-terrifying-sydney-dog-attack-c-11242022" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>7News</em></a>. </p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TkRfrDQ4gNE" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Booth said she saw the owner of the vicious dogs run off and initially believed he had gone to get help, but it was the last she saw of him. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I hope he takes responsibility for what has happened to my dog and to me,” Ms Booth said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Police are continuing to investigate the identity of the man and urge anyone with information to come forward. </p> <p dir="ltr">Following the terrifying ordeal, Elle’s husband Tom Dale told <em><a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12286887/Lugarno-dog-attack-Woman-pet-killed-Irish-Wolfhounds-breaks-silence.html">Daily Mail Australia</a></em> that his wife was “brave as hell” and he was “so proud of her”.</p> <p dir="ltr">'He [the man] was yelling at Elle to get Indigo to stop running away, as it was exciting his dogs. He was trying to stop them but they were out of control,' Mr Dale said.</p> <p dir="ltr">After Indi was taken to veterinary intensive care, Ms Booth was rushed to St George Hospital after suffering injuries to her face, neck, arms, hands and legs and underwent surgery on her hands and forearm on Monday.</p> <p dir="ltr">Family friend Tess Hutchison said the event had changed the couple's lives “forever” and has filled them with “sorrow, heartache, and unspeakable pain”, prompting her to set up a GoFundMe page for the couple. </p> <p dir="ltr">A GoFundMe page set up for the brave pet owner surpassed its $25,000 goal - the cost of Indi's vet bills - within hours.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms Hutchinson shared her appreciation for everyone who had rallied to support the couple.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We want to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you who have donated, sent kind words and had both Elle and Indi in their thoughts over the last couple of days,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: 7News</em></p>

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