A Little Socializing

Hello friends, I know it has been a while since I have posted, so I thought I would bring you up to speed on what Pinky and I have been doing. Because of her past life, Pinky has some separation anxiety and sticks incredibly close to me (the word glue has been used several times). My shadow resembles a three pound Chihuahua and some believe her feet rarely touch the ground. She has never enthusiastically embraced any of my friends, family or neighbors. She is interested, especially in other dogs, but she prefers to give most people the side eye from my lap or arms. She doesn’t mind at all when I go to work (she is not a morning person) but she has terrible separation anxiety if I am gone overnight. Every once in a while it is unavoidable that I have to go somewhere that she can’t join me. For those occasions, we have tried boarding at the vet, the fabulous luxury doggy hotel and a friend staying at the apartment with her, but no matter what, she refuses to eat. She has gone from Thursday night to Monday morning without eating a morsel of food. Even when offered every delicious human food available, she turns away. It worries me no end because she is so little, without much in the way of reserves. This fall, I have to make one last trip where she cannot accompany me, so we have been working to expand her comfort zone with a little socializing. If she felt more comfortable around people, she might feel more relaxed with a pet sitter in her own apartment. Being in New York, there is always something going on, so Pinky and I have been out on the town attending pet friendly events. Here are some that we have really enjoyed:

Adoptapalooza

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Adoptapalooza

 

Adoptapalooza was an event sponsored by the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals. Hundreds of dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, and rabbits, were available for adoption from more than 30 Alliance participating organizations. All adoptable animals had been vaccinated and spayed or neutered with adoption fees covered by Animal Planet. Celebrating its 150th anniversary the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals teamed up with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to organize New York’s first-ever NYC Paws Parade to encourage people to adopt a pet. The parade started at Madison Square Park, led by pet-loving Broadway superstar Bernadette Peters and Instagram star Marnie the Dog. It included marchers from the ASPCA, NYPD Mounted and Canine Units, FDNY mascots Hot Dog and Siren and miniature therapy horses.

Pinky and I toured all of the booths from the different organizations and met so many people devoted to helping animals just like her. It was a crowded event, so Pinky enjoyed being carried or watching the festivities from her favorite handbag sized carrier. Not wanting to overwhelm her, we stayed about an hour and a half. She didn’t seem to be experiencing a great deal of stress and she tolerated a few people giving her a little pet on the head. We marked it as a success – for us and the fabulous animals that got adopted.

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Someone’s getting adopted at Adoptapalooza!

Senior Splash

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Cheering for Susie’s Senior Dogs with Chloe Kardoggian

 

This was an event held at Dog and Co. and hosted by Susie’s Senior Dogs. Susie’s Senior Dogs is 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to bring awareness to and increase senior dog adoptions. As you know, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart, so Pinky and I wanted to attend and cheer them on. As a senior, who was adopted and then rocketed to stardom, Chloe Kardoggian, made a personal appearance to promote the organization. It was a much smaller event than Adoptapalooza and both Pinky and I had a wonderful time. She got to visit with Chloe, who she adored. I think it must have been so nice for her to meet someone her own size. The shop owners and all of the people from Susie’s were wonderful. Pinky even let a nice volunteer hold her for a bit without kicking her feet and trying to get back to me. This was unusual for her. Slowly but surely, we are making strides. We had one more fun and successful outing to add to our list of adventures.

Susies seniors
Making friends with Susie’s Senior Dogs

BarkFest

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Barkfest Entrance

Touted as the world’s biggest festival for dog’s and their groupies, Barkfest brings the World’s Fair experience to dogs and their people. Not wanting to pass this up, we purchased our tickets and got ready to explore the interactive games, tech demos, live music and snacks. Although I had never been to Hudson River Park’s Pier 97, we had no trouble finding the place. Everywhere you looked there were dogs of all shapes and sizes. Once inside, there were different tents and areas designated for the different activities. On The Main Stage, there was live music and a supermodel worthy dogwalk for you and your pup to strut down. In the Arts and Laughs area, there were craft projects to do with your dog along with professional artists doing caricatures of the four legged guests to take home. Innovation Alley was filled with new products and pet gadgets, including an internet connected HD video camera and treat dispenser which, upon a bit of app tapping, will launch a fresh treat across the room for your pet’s delight while you watch on your phone or tablet. There were photo booths and appearances by Tuna and Crusoe the dachshund. There were adoptable dogs available along with rescue group and veterinarian information. Last but not least, there was even a place to play golf (using tennis balls) with your dog on a custom-built Pup Putt course, as well as a jumbo-sized ball pit and an agility course. We passed on the athletic tent and went straight to the food tent, which was much more Pinky’s speed. Throughout the event, she seemed to adore meeting the other dogs and would wag her tail madly when she got to say hi to a little one. She seemed to be fairly at ease, although she did retreat into her travel bag for a little nap half way through. I never felt that she was afraid or feeling a high level of stress. In fact, I think having her carrier handy allowed her to feel secure and take in all of the action at the same time. It was such fun; we will definitely be going back next year!

Throughout the summer, we plan to keep socializing by attending doggy themed events and building Pinky’s comfort level with people other than me. Hopefully, we might even happen to meet some of you during our outings. We will keep you posted on our adventures and take plenty of pictures!

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Heading home after a fun outing

Albie Moves In

After learning about the wonderful work that is being celebrated on Three Chatty Cats, I wanted to share a heartwarming story about a cat named Albie. Albie was a feral cat living near my friend Beth’s home. She and her husband, John, would see Albie out in the yard and he was more than a little bit intimidating. They even wondered if he might be vicious. After watching him for quite a while, they decided to try to trap, neuter and return him. According to Alley Cat Allies, “Trap-Neuter-Return is successfully practiced in hundreds of communities and in every landscape and setting. It is exactly what it sounds like: Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated. After recovery, the cats are returned to their home—their colony—outdoors. Kittens and cats that are friendly and socialized to people may be adopted into homes. Scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.” Long committed to the welfare of the feral cat population in their community, Beth and John had personally trapped-neutered- returned at least 8 cats before Albie. This was done at their own expense, out of love, compassion and concern for feline welfare in their area.

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Trapping

Albie, was a big cat who had been aggressive to the other ferals, so John carefully set a Havahart trap, which is a humane, easy to use live trap, to capture him. This would allow him to be safely transported to the veterinarian. He was caught much quicker and easier than expected and when Beth and John took a look at him close up, they realized just how bad a shape he was in. John recalls, “His fur was all matted, his eye was bulging out and teeth were broken. He had ear mites so bad they had started eating the skin right outside of his ear. It was like he knew he needed help”.

Neutering 

Once at the veterinary clinic, Albie was surprisingly friendly to the doctor and the other hospital workers. He let them examine him and run tests. He was neutered and it was discovered he had FIV, a respiratory infection and a number of other things wrong with him. While there, he also got a haircut, relieving the painful, pulling snarls in his fur. Albie was in the hospital for about two weeks but he was a fighter and got better and better each day. It was obvious he was a senior and his age was estimated at about 13 years old. At the end of those two weeks, I imagine he felt better than he had in years.

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Albie, looking handsome and feeling good after his haircut!

 Return

Once he was released from the hospital, he was returned to his outdoor colony. Beth explained, “We had no idea that he would calm down so much! After he was neutered, it was like night and day. He went from the cat all the others feared to the one that would hang out and make sure any kittens were safe and corralled.” He became affectionate and would allow both Beth and John to pet him. John said, “This is when we decided to bring him in. I tried trapping him again but he knew now what the trap was. I tried every day for two weeks and he would just look at the trap and walk away. Finally, one day I was sitting on the back porch and he came up and put his head on my lap. I reached down and just picked him up.” Beth had asked to try to bring him inside as a birthday present, but the real gift was for Albie. According to Beth and John, his adjustment was surprisingly rapid. He was relaxed and when the door was open, he never showed any interest in wanting to return to the outdoors. He now had a safe, warm, comfortable home with plenty of food and love. His medical needs had been addressed and now it was time to enjoy life!

The Good Life

Albie became sweet and gentle and was so happy to be a part of the family. He lounged in sunbeams, napped on soft blankets and like all family members could be a little mischievous at times. At a Super Bowl party one year, he even plotted to steal a chicken breast from the guest he was snuggled up beside. His plan succeeded and he disappeared under a tablecloth like he had never been there at all. One of the things Albie enjoyed most about having a family was Christmas. A tiny table top Christmas tree sat in Albie’s room during the holidays and he thought it was magical. He would get up on the table, sit next to it and stare at the lights. How different his life had become.

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Albie enjoying his very own Christmas tree!

Thanks to the kind hearts of people like Beth and John and the wonderful work of feline rescue groups, innumerable cats are living happier and healthier lives. Once they had witnessed the change in Albie’s temperament, Beth and John were willing to take a chance  on him – and from that day on; every day was Christmas for Albie!

Instagram Best Practices

As pet lovers, we have witnessed the rise of the Instagram “celebripet”. Normal cats and dogs who have rocketed to unexpected fame and fortune. A couple of years ago, it was reported that Grumpy Cat had earned over $100,000,000. Adorable pets such as Lil Bub, Marnie, Chloe the Mini Frenchie and Mervin the Chihuahua have made their way onto our computer screens and into our hearts. Whether you want a dog with its own personal brand and 100,000 followers or just want to show off the awe inspiring cuteness of your pet to your friends and family, I have collected some pro tips and best practices for Instagram. (Disclaimer: As I still have my day job and need to forgo cute shoes to pay school tuition, Pinky the Chi and I cannot personally guarantee that by following these tips, fame and fortune are on their way).

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 Chloe the Mini Frenchie

 

Basics for a Great Photo

People flock to Instagram for the visuals, and in the article, The Secrets to Making your Dog Famous, the folks at Dogs of Instagram offer three tips to producing an Instagram attention grabbing photo. 1). Make sure that you are photographing in good light. Instagram users with thousands of followers usually invest in a high quality digital camera, but if you are like me and using a smartphone, natural light always helps. (I know I have missed shots of Pinky that would have generated multiple movie offers because I couldn’t find my phone in the pit of my purse. Tip from me – try to keep it on hand for unexpected flashes of cuteness). 2). Capture the moments that show your dog’s personality and what makes them special or what marketers call their brand. Patience pays off when you finally get that one amazing shot! 3). Tell a story with your photos. Creativity is key; no one wants to see the same type photo day after day.

Post Regularly

Posting regularly means increased visibility for Fido and Fluffy and visibility is essential to those on the road to stardom. According to Buffer and most of the other research I found, posting twice a day is recommended for Instagram. As a spectator, I know that I appreciate it when someone posts often enough to keep me engaged, but I don’t want to be saturated. Like cologne, a little bit is fabulous, too much and people start backing away.

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Mervin the Chihuahua

Hashtags Rule

Hashtags are the quick and easy way to connect with and find your audience. According to Hootsuite’s The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Hashtags, The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience generally means better engagement. They are a way to join in conversations on trending topics. Apps such as Instatags and TagsForLikes can help recommend some popular hashtags to try for a particular interest. And if all else fails, we can always read the instructions on Instagram’s own Help Center.

Build a Community

Sean Griffis, dad to Brie, a Boston Terrier who’s star is rising suggests, “Network, just like in your professional and personal life, it’s vital to your pet’s budding internet fame to get out there and hawk the hell out of them – digitally and in real life…The more you interact, the more invested others will be in your animal’s shenanigans as a brand and will hopefully become a brand ambassador, unbeknownst to you.” Even if you are not hoping to make the news, engagement is so important – and one the things I have enjoyed most about social media. You can quickly create a community by following those who regularly like your photos and leaving comments when you like theirs.

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Don’t Be a Mama Rose

I know this sounds counterintuitive to fame, but I am throwing it in anyway. Don’t be a stage mom or dad, hounding your hound night and day and doing crazy things to try to get that million dollar picture. We have all seen the poor dogs and cats shoved into costumes, posed uncomfortably and looking miserable. If dress up isn’t your pet’s thing, don’t force it. As viewers, we can always tell – and if it’s not fun for the animal, it’s usually not fun for us either. Be authentic and let the thing that makes him/her special shine through – no matter what it is.

Instagram’s Impact

Through our computers and tablets, we invite these four legged ambassadors of happiness into our living rooms and our lives. There is much more to this phenomenon than meets the eye. The Fast, Furry Rise of the Instagram-Famous Pet explains, “As superficial as the Instagram dog scene may appear at first glance, it has real causes at its heart. These dogs that we follow, with their scruffy hair and their pendulous tongues, would not be here for our enjoyment if they had not been rescued. If we want that cuteness in the world, the social media community suggests, then we too should rescue dogs. The message seems to be spreading. According to pet adoption organization Maddie’s Fund, shelter intake for dogs in the US dropped by eight percent from 2008 to 2013, down to 240,000 annually, and deaths dropped 40 percent, to 60,000.”

These are just some basic best practices to help your “child” take Instagram by storm. Since Pinky is currently earning her Master’s degree in napping and I am not out running around in a t-shirt with her photo and website URL emblazoned on the front, we may not be perched for stardom. We feel quite content with her being the most famous dog in our apartment building (where we make personal appearances in the lobby every morning on our way outside). Regardless of how many followers we have, the fun is in sharing the surprises, delight and sheer joy that Pinky brings into my life with the world. And just maybe – she will bring a little bit of that joy, along with a virtual hug into yours!

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Hello world – it’s me!

Three Chatty Cats

Social Media to the Rescue!

Social media has not only changed the world, it is saving lives. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of animal welfare organizations, shelters, rescue groups and individuals, countless dogs and cats who might not have had a second chance are living wonderful lives with their forever families. One of these dedicated individuals is Rachel Loehner. She is the brains, talent and heart behind Three Chatty Cats, a blog devoted to highlighting the work of great cat rescues and their life saving efforts. Although she just started Three Chatty Cats in January, she has already been nominated for a Liebster Award and is quickly becoming a social media influencer. Her blog posts are fun to read, full of amazing photos and provide relevant information that resonates with animal lovers. Most importantly, she is vastly expanding the reach of the wonderful cat rescues and people she profiles.

Besides all of the research, emailing, writing, editing and photo prep she does for her blog, Rachel is also the mom of – you guessed it – three chatty cats; Dexter, Olive and Sophie, as well as an adorable dog named Eddie. Each of them has an inspiring rescue story which you can read by clicking on their names above. She has kindly offered to share some of her blogging experiences with us.

Dexter
Dexter

Your own pets, Dexter, Olive, Sophie and Eddie, have wonderful stories. Did your rescue experiences with them help inspire the creation of Three Chatty Cats? If it was something else, can you tell us a little about what did?

Well, I love my pets and I named my blog after my cats, so in some small way they’re an inspiration behind it. But it’s funny because I didn’t really think out the process of starting Three Chatty Cats. I had recently become addicted to an app for cat lovers (Catastic) and was constantly browsing through all the cat pictures and loved how everyone was sharing their stories and experiences. Something clicked inside of me and I suddenly wanted to start a cat blog.

I think I researched it for all of about one day and then signed up and got started. I definitely rushed into it and probably should have taken a bit more prep time before “going live.” I didn’t know what I wanted to blog about – just that it would be related to cats somehow. I started with a few basic posts on my own cats just to get something posted. Then I asked someone I had connected with through the cat app if I could share their story because they are an amazing couple totally dedicated to helping animals. And that post completely spiraled into where Three Chatty Cats is now – a blog to promote cat rescue groups and individuals who are doing their part to help cats in need. I couldn’t be happier with the direction that the blog has taken, even without pre-planning it! Sometimes you just let things take their own direction and it works out for the best.

Dexter
Dexter

Have you had any unexpected or surprising experiences as a blogger?

I didn’t realize how much of a difference a blog could make. I know that because of my blog some featured rescue groups and individuals have received monetary donations and items from their Wish Lists. And just yesterday, I had someone contact me about donating items to a woman I featured in Italy who helps stray cats. An American living abroad in the very city that the rescuer lives in – what are the chances? The woman I featured emailed me to say they were already in contact with each other and set to meet up. Here I am in California, and my blog is helping cats in Italy! Things like that really warm my heart and make me feel like I’m doing my part. I know it’s about the cats, but it’s so nice to have that feeling inside that you’re helping.

Olive
Olive

In your post on Amanda Whitman, I read about the importance of Facebook in the work she is doing. How do you think social media has changed the landscape for shelters and rescue groups?

I usually ask the rescue groups and rescuers how they get donations or get the word out. So often the response is Facebook. I think Facebook is key in supporting shelters and rescues. In my own personal experience, with the exception of one rescue group post on my blog, I have found every other group to profile through social media (I’ve also since asked for reader suggestions). A lot of them I find on Instagram and then go to FB to learn more about them. Without social media, I would be completely lost!

The Amanda Whitman post was due to the fact that another cat blogger shared her story on FB that she read in a local online newspaper. So again, without FB, I would have never learned about her amazing story. And Amanda wouldn’t be as successful as she is in all her rescue efforts without Facebook. That is primarily how she is able to save so many cats. She’s able to network through Facebook and link up with rescues.

Without a doubt, social media (blogs included) has opened so many doors to shelters and rescues. Some of the groups I’ve featured have mentioned how they get donations from people around the world because of social media. That likely wasn’t the case 10 years ago. Maybe even five years ago!

Olive
Olive

Do you have a favorite success story since beginning your blog?

I’m probably not supposed to, but I do have a favorite cat rescue story – and that is Sophie (a different Sophie than pictured below) from the Zoo Rescue. Her rescue off the streets and into a loving home is so touching, and I can’t imagine what her life was like as a declawed kitty, abandoned and alone. But luckily she was rescued! Her eyes are so soulful and her face speaks to what trauma she endured in her previous life. Every time I see her picture, my heart just melts. And it’s so amazing what that husband and wife team who rescued Sophie do to rescue all of their animals. They really are an amazing set of rescuers! (This is the post that got it all started for me… in regards to the direction of the blog.)

Sophie
Sophie

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I love how social media, as well as the blogging community, brings people together around a common cause. I personally never used Facebook or Instagram to post things prior to starting my blog. I saw it more as a place where people shared pics of their dinner or shared selfies 24/7. But of course there really is much more to social media than that! Yes, there are those who do only use FB and IG to share those food pics. I’m probably the one they roll their eyes at since I share cat pics! But now that I have my blog, I’m glued to my screen (undecided if that’s a good thing or not!), either on FB, IG or reading other blogs. I even opened a Twitter account! I now have so many communities and people I follow who have all helped me on my blogging journey. And being able to connect with people like you is awesome! I feel like I’m coming to the social media game a little late. But now that I’m here, I see how truly helpful it can be in connecting like-minded individuals. My take on social media has basically been a complete 180.

Sophie
Sophie

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to thank Rachel for sharing her time, expertise and insights. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and of course, Three Chatty Cats!

If you are interested in making a difference like Rachel or know of a shelter or rescue group that might benefit from a social media presence, here are a few resources that might be helpful:

Social Media 101 for Shelters and Rescue Groups

Shelters Use Social Media Strategies to Find Homes for Pets

21 Ways Non-profits Can Leverage Social Media

By caring and then connecting, we can all do something to help an animal in need.

Eddie
Eddie

 

Pinky and Her Brain-Part II

What kind of unique genius does Pinky possess? That is what we spent the weekend finding out. Pinky took the Dognition Assessment, which is a series of 20 games designed to test dogs in the five categories of Empathy, Communication, Cunning, Memory and Reasoning. According to Dognition, “There has been a revolution in how we think about intelligence. The profile is based on his cutting-edge field called cognitive science. Cognition is the study of how the mind works and draws on many scientific disciplines, from psychology to computer science to neuroscience.” The test is done at home using only a few household items such as paper cups, sticky notes and treats. The test is lengthy, as you repeat each game numerous times to ensure the validity of the results and we found it best to break it up over a few days. Created by Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist and the head of Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center, the tests are designed to reveal a dog’s “cognitive style” – so there are no right or wrong answers. From the answers given, the profile reveals the strategies your dog uses to solve a variety of problems.

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Empathy

The empathy portion of the test offers information on how your dog reads and responds to the emotions of others. It included a yawn game as well as a game to test how long your dog will hold eye contact.

According to her profile, Pinky’s empathy scores were very high, which according to initial results is unusual as small dogs tend to be more individualistic. “Pinky certainly stands out from the small dog crowd. If most dogs are bonded to their owners, Pinky absolutely adores you”. (A test that asks her to yawn and look at me is just her kind of test!)

Communication

The communication section included arm and foot pointing tests. This required putting three sticky notes on the floor about two feet apart in front of me and setting a paper cup on the right and left side of the middle sticky note. I would show Pinky a treat and let her watch me put it under a paper cup on my right side. I would point to the cup with the treat and she was allowed to look for it. If she passed between the center note and the left, she was choosing the left cup, if she passed between the center sticky note and the right side; she was choosing the right cup.

Pinky’s results indicated that she was highly collaborative. “Pinky can read you like a book…Pinky pays close attention to your gestures and what you are trying to communicate”. (This is very true of Pinky – and also the reason I sometimes have to hide in the bathroom to eat cheesecake. She is always watching my hands and knows what a fork is!)

Cunning

These tests were designed to indicate how trustworthy or wiley your dog is (or as we like to think of it – the sneaky quotient). This category included games such as showing your dog a treat, telling them no and then turning your back. Do they go for the treat when you aren’t looking? These tests help determine whether a dog uses social information when deciding whether to take advantage of you.

Pinky scored as trustworthy because Pinky was more likely to take the treat when I was looking at her versus when my back was turned. “Pinky shows that she can easily and flexibly read your gestures. But when given the chance, she won’t use that knowledge against you.” (Perhaps…but they have never seen her with a donut in the room!)

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Memory

These games included ones such as showing your dog a treat, letting them watch you put it under a cup, then pointing to the other cup when they approached to retrieve the treat. There were also games that tested memory vs.smell and delayed memory.

Pinky struggled with these tests. Many times she would come to the middle sticky note and stare at me as opposed to choosing a side. Each of the tests were repeated 6 times to ensure accuracy and she never figured them out. “Pinky does not rely as heavily on her working memory as other dogs do. Working memory is a kind of short-term memory that allows Pinky to retain and process information.” (Hmmmm….might explain a few things)

Reasoning

Reasoning is the ability to solve a problem when you can’t see the answer and have to imagine the solution. These games included hiding a treat behind a folded piece of paper with an angle to it (to indicate something was behind it) and the dog having to infer that there was a hidden treat as well as more games using the cups.

Pinky struggled with these as well. Her profile said, “Pinky seemed to have a difficult time figuring this one out. She scored more towards the impulsive end, which means she doesn’t get caught up in the details-especially details that aren’t right in front of her. There is no shame in this.” (Well, if you have to say it…)

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Pinky’s Results

The Results

Once the results are analyzed, you are sorted into one of nine categories – such as problem solving “Experts” to clever “Charmers” to independent “Mavericks”. Pinky fell into the category of Stargazer, which said, “While what goes on behind the Stargazer’s eyes may sometimes seem mysterious, it is by no means dull. Perhaps these dogs see a whole other world that is hidden to us.” Click on the categories below to learn more about each one:

Ace

Charmer

Socialite

Expert

Renaissance Dog

Protodog

Einstein

Maverick

Stargazer

We had a lot of fun playing the games in the assessment and it did give me a better understanding of Pinky’s problem solving strategies. I can now better communicate with her by approaching things in a way that takes advantage of her strengths. Although Pinky’s profile said, “Pinky is an intriguing enigma…and she may have to work a little harder than other dogs” we are not discouraged. As Dr. Hare once said, “It’s not always survival of the fittest. Sometimes it’s the friendliest that have an evolutionary edge.” Pinky is an A+ in my book!

Pinky and her brain 2 edited

*Although I was not able to find a scientifically based intelligence test for cats, for our kitty loving readers, here is a link to some fun games to test your furry friend’s brainpower. I hope you have a great time with your feline IQ test!

Pinky and Her Brain

I had always heard that a dog is happier when it knows what is expected of them, so soon after I adopted Pinky, I signed us up for an obedience 101 class. I thought it might help to make her transition from the rescue group to her new home a little easier. Treats in hand we headed down to our local pet store for our first day of school. Full of excitement, I thought about when my mom’s pug completed her class. She received a diploma and had her photo taken with a little graduation cap on. I couldn’t help but think how adorable Pinky was going to look on graduation day.

Rosie graduation

Obedience 101

Well,…things didn’t go quite as planned. No matter what we did, Pinky just wouldn’t cooperate. She was distracted when she saw other dogs and really distracted when she saw a treat. She just couldn’t concentrate. We were both trying hard, but didn’t have much to show for it. To make a long story short, although we attended every class, she didn’t receive her graduation diploma or have her photo taken for the store’s wall of fame (They politely suggested we repeat the class). What did this mean? Was she being stubborn or did she not have the intellectual capability to do what was asked of her? Perhaps she was still adjusting to her new home and just had other things on her mind. That was three years ago and ever since, she has been considered (by people other than me) to be less than brilliant.

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The Canine IQ

According to an article in Smithsonian magazine, “The canine IQ test results are in: even the average dog has the mental abilities of 2-year old child. The finding is based on a language development test, revealing average dogs can learn 165 words (similar to a 2-year old child), including signals and gestures, and dogs in the top 20% in intelligence can learn 250 words”. I am not sure how many words Pinky recognizes, but I know she is smarter than she is given credit for. With the help of Dognition, an assessment created by Dr. Brian Hare, the Director of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, we have decided to prove it

Dognition

The Dognition assessment is comprised of 20 games created by scientists, trainers, and behavioral specialists that can be played with your dog at home. According to their website, in the amount of time you would normally take your dog for a walk, you can gain a whole new understanding of your dog’s unique genius. Eureeka! Pinky is not a slow learner, she has unique genius! In the name of science, we are going to hand over our $19 and restore Pinky’s intellectual reputation.

A Cliffhanger

After completing the assessment games, we will receive Pinky’s unique Profile Report describing the cognitive strategies she employs. Will Pinky triumph? Will a brilliant mind be uncovered? Stop by next week for Pinky and Her Brain Part II, where we discuss the exciting results!

Can't I just rely on my looks

Smoky, An American Hero

When we think of heroic dogs, we often picture dogs of stature; regal German Shepherds or St. Bernards with their alpine rescues. I don’t know about you, but I would never imagine that a tiny dog like Pinky could save the lives of countless men and help win a war – but that is exactly what happened.

Found 

In 1944, during World War II, a Yorkshire terrier standing only 7” tall was found in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle. Corporal William A. Wynne of Cleveland Ohio adopted the dog and named her Smoky.

WWII Service

Smoky slept in Wynne’s tent on a little blanket made from the green felt cover of a card table and Wynne shared his C-rations with her. Smoky braved the dangers and hardships of war backpacking along with Corporal Wynne. Over the next two two years, Wynne and Smoky survived air raids, typhoons and 12 combat missions together. Smoky was much more than just a bystander. According to National Geographic Magazine, “Every day waves of Japanese planes attacked the Allied airfield at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, the largest of the Philippine Islands. The onslaught was taking a toll on communication, and the American commanders urgently needed to run telephone lines through a pipe that stretched roughly 70 feet underground from the base to three separate squadrons, but they lacked the proper equipment. The pipe was just eight inches in diameter, and the only way to put the lines in place would be to do the job by hand—having dozens of men dig a trench to get the wires underground, a dangerous job that would’ve taken days and left the men exposed to the constant enemy attacks. Instead, they pinned their hopes on an unconventional solution: send a tiny Yorkshire terrier through the pipe with kite string tied to her collar. The string could then be used to thread the wires through the pipe”. Calling to her, coaxing her forward was Wynne. The little dog reached the other side, the communication network was established, and she was credited with saving the lives of some 250 men and 40 planes that day. That was just the beginning of Smoky’s contribution.

First Therapy Dog

While Wynne was in the hospital after contracting dengue fever, his friends decided to bring Smoky to visit him. Smoky’s antics and amazing repertoire of tricks brought such delight to the other patients, the nurses asked if she could stay. Commanding Officer Major Dr. Charles W. Mayo of the famed Mayo Clinic gave his approval. This was a pivotal moment. By allowing Smoky to stay in the hospital, Dr. Mayo recognized the healing power and joy that a dog could bring to patients and that it was safe to have a dog in a medical environment. As a result, Smoky became the very first therapy dog. Smoky would sleep on the bed with Bill at night and during the day, she would accompany the nurses tending incoming casualties from the Biak Island Invasion. Later, while on leave in Australia, Bill and Smoky were staying at an American Red Cross facility and were asked to visit sailors and marines at the 109th Fleet Naval Hospital.

After the War

After both proudly serving in the South Pacific with the 5th Air Force, 26th Photo Recon Squadron; Smoky and Bill’s contribution did not end with the war. Once home, Bill and Smoky continued to visit veteran’s hospitals throughout the 1940’s and into the 1950’s. The two even became popular on television, with Smoky continuing to delight and entertain with her spirited tricks. Bill later wrote a book about their adventures, Yorkie Doodle Dandy, and many wonderful photos of the two can be found on Smoky’s website and Facebook page. Smoky has been bestowed with the honor of numerous awards for service and heroism and there are currently 7 memorials across the world dedicated to her.

smoky memorial edited

When taking her in, little did Corporal Wynne know how he and a 4 lb. Yorkie would change the world!