Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

  • Looking to Hire? Have You Considered a Cat?

    Office cats can boost productivity and improve employee health. Bonus: they're cute and cuddly!Office cats can boost productivity and improve employee health. Bonus: they're cute and cuddly!The Great Plains SPCA has found a solution to the influx of kittens during spring months: Put them to work.

    The animal welfare organization is launching a new program in hopes of getting more shelter cats into offices and businesses.

    Several local businesses in Lawrence, Kan., keep cats in their stores, and the felines have received positive "purrformance" reviews.

    "The cats are the best co-workers I could have had," Chip Badley, a clerk at the Raven Bookstore, told KCTV News. "You come in and you get to have your cat fix for four or five hours a day."

    Also see: What do you know about cats? Take the quiz

    The Raven Bookstore has two cats, Ngaio and Dashiell, who were named after authors Ngaio Marsh and Dashiell Hammett.

    Badley said the cats not only attract customers, but they have also become mascots for the shop, which sells postcards and other merchandise with pictures of the bookish felines.

    Shelters often become overcrowded during spring, and the SPCA hopes

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  • 25 Creative Ways to Help Animal Shelters

    For a great way to spend time outside and help your local shelter, volunteer to walk a dog.Many of us would love to help dogs, cats and other rescued animals living at the local shelter, but let's face it - it can be hard. There often aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish our own tasks, let alone volunteer for the many tasks a shelter has on the to-do list. Donating money would be easier, but maybe you're on a budget and don't have much to spare. That's okay! There are lots of ways to help local animal shelters without investing a ton of time, money or energy.

    The first step is to learn about the local shelters in your area and their needs. Some might be doing fine on donations but need help caring for the animals waiting for a forever home, while others might be struggling to make ends meet and could use a push in the donation sector. Figure out your skill set and where you're needed most. The next step is to check out this list of creative ways you can help. Then decide on one (or a few) small things you can do to make a huge difference.

    Also see: Intimate

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  • Your Dog Likes the Way You Smell

    Dogs respond most to the scents of their owners.Dogs respond most to the scents of their owners.

    Dogs' noses are thousands of times more sensitive than ours, but what scent will get your dog the most excited?

    Your scent, according to researchers at Emory University.

    Gregory Berns, director of Emory's Center for Neuropolicy, led a team of scientists to conduct the first brain-imaging study of dogs responding to biological odors.

    The experiment involved 12 dogs of various breeds that had been trained to enter an MRI scanner while awake and unrestrained.

    Also see: Do you know your dog breeds? Take the quiz

    As their brains were scanned, the dogs were presented with five different scents on gauze pads. The scent samples came from the subject dog, a dog the subject hadn't met, a dog that lived in the same household, a human the subject had never met, and a human that lived in the dog's household.

    All five scents elicited a similar response in the parts of dogs' brains involved in detecting smells.

    However, the responses were much stronger for the scents of

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  • Meet Shedd Aquarium's Newest Addition: Marlin (the Dog!)

    Who wouldn't want to be greeted by this adorable chocolate Lab mix?The newest animal star at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium is named Marlin - and he's a dog.

    The 2-year-old chocolate Labrador mix is the aquarium's fourth shelter dog, and he will work as a canine ambassador, greeting visitors and warming up the crowd during the "One World" aquatics show.

    Marlin was adopted from Chicago Canine Rescue in December and will be making his aquarium debut this spring.

    Also see: Shelter dogs benefit from the power of a photo

    His first home was in Oklahoma, but the active 70-pound puppy was more than his owner could handle and he was returned to the rescue. That's when Shedd's training team adopted him and gave Marlin his forever home.

    Now Marlin spends his days playing with Shedd's three other rescue dogs: Bruce the pit bull mix, Dory the shepherd mix and Coral an Airedale mix (pictured right).

    All the dogs are named after characters from the movie "Finding Nemo."

    Also see: Photographer and her rescue dog make city walks fun with balancing

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  • What is Zeutering?

    Is zeutering right for your dog?A new non-surgical procedure to sterilize male dogs has been getting lots of attention lately, but it's not for every dog.

    "Zeutering" involves chemically sterilizing a male dog by injecting the FDA-approved chemical Zeuterin into the animal's testicles.

    Dogs are lightly sedated for the procedure, but it requires no anesthesia. There's little recovery time, minimal pain and no stitches.

    Also see: How fluent are you in dog-speak? Take the quiz

    However, studies show that zeutering is only 99 percent effective, and its long-term effects are still being researched. And the biggest downside is that because the testicles remain, so does some of the dog's testosterone.

    "Though rendered sterile, they may still exhibit some of the behaviors that are often eliminated with castration," writes Dr. Patty Khuly, a Miami-based veterinarian. "It also means they're still at risk of suffering some conditions neutering eliminates."

    However, Khuly also points out that zeutered dogs

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  • Is Wet or Dry Food Better for Cats?

    What's the right food for your cat?

    There's a reason felines are called finicky. Cats tend to be particular about just about everything.

    Switch kitty litter brands and prepare for a full-scale protest; adjust the view to the backyard at your peril. It's no wonder that many owners stockpile whatever food their cats deem acceptable. But there are differences between dry and wet cat food that could affect your cat's long-term health. Dr. Annie Price of Ormewood Animal Hospital in Atlanta offers advice on what's best for cats.

    "For years and years, you remember vets saying that canned food is junk food," she says. "We found that's not necessarily accurate."

    Also see: Can you decipher these cat behaviors?

    Price says that cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they rely on meat for nutrition and lack the enzyme required to break down plant material. As descendants of desert-dwelling hunters, cats also thrive on food that resembles what's consumed in the wild. Their ideal meal has plenty of protein and fat, with

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  • 8 Things You Didn't Know About Guinea Pigs

    Guinea pigs may be unconventional pets, but they certainly are cute.Dogs may be man's best friend and cats may rule the Internet, but the month of March is dedicated to America's 12th most popular pet: the guinea pig.

    In 2002, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals declared March to be National Adopt A Rescued Guinea Pig Month to raise awareness about guinea pigs in animal shelters.

    Most pet stores sell guinea pigs that come from breeding mills, but thousands of the adorable critters are at shelters waiting for their forever homes.

    Also see: 10 feral animals wreaking environmental havoc

    The furry rodents make fun, low-maintenance pets, and there's a lot you probably don't know about them. For starters:

    1. Guinea pigs aren't pigs, and they aren't from Guinea. The rodents come from the Andes of South America, and the "guinea" in their name may be a corruption of Guyana, which is part of their natural range. Pet guinea pigs are descendants of wild ones that still roam the mountains and grasslands of South America.

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  • How to Adopt a Dog Through Breed-Specific Rescue Groups

    You don't have to go to a breeder to find a purebred dog. Here's how.It may come as a surprise, but you don't have to go through a breeder to find the perfect purebred dog. If you have your heart set on a specific breed, there are dog rescues waiting to match you with your ideal companion. You can help a rescued dog find a forever home and get the dog you've been dreaming about.

    There is a misconception that getting a dog from a breed-specific rescue is less desirable than getting one from a breeder. Dogs who end up in rescues aren't there because they're rejects from breeders, or substandard in any way. Often, the dogs who end up in these rescues are given up by owners who underestimated the effort it takes to raise a dog, or they figured out that the breed they chose isn't the right match for their personality or lifestyle. And many times they are well-loved dogs whose owners had to give them up because of life changes, like moving, divorce, a new job or leaving the country.

    Dogs also end up in breed-specific rescues when puppy mills are shut

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  • Do Dogs Feel Guilt?

    What we interpret as guilt may be something else entirely.If you've ever had a dog, you know the signature canine guilty look: ears back, head cowered, tail tucked.

    Seventy-four percent of dog owners believe their dogs experience guilt, but animal behaviorists say dogs lack the ability to feel shame. They say that guilty look is simply a reaction to you.

    While there's plenty of evidence that man's best friend experiences primary emotions, such as fear and happiness, there's little evidence that dogs feel secondary emotions like pride, jealousy and guilt.

    Scientist say this is because secondary emotions require self-awareness and a level of cognition that dogs may not have.

    Also see: How fluent are you in dog-speak?

    Alexandra Horowitz, a psychology professor and principal investigator at the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Columbia University, conducted one of the first studies on dog "guilt" in 2009.

    She videotaped 14 dogs in a series of trials and observed how they reacted when their owners left the room after instructing

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  • Group Reunites Soldiers with Stray Dogs They Met During the War

    No Dog Gets Left Behind raised funds to bring Stinky the puppy to her new home in Pennsylvania.When Sgt. T.J. Homan met a white-and-brown spotted puppy in Afghanistan in 2011, he never expected the canine would become his companion.

    He named the dog "Lil B," short for Beethoven because she resembled the St. Bernard from the famous movie. The dog slept in his cot at night, and he says she served as a reminder that there were other things in the world besides war.

    When it was time for him to return home, Homan told his sister he wanted to bring Lil B with him. His sister started looking for ways to make that happen, and she discovered No Dog Gets Left Behind (NDGLB), a nonprofit that helps soldiers connect with the dogs they met overseas.

    Also see: 10 sweet reunions between soldiers and their dogs

    Philadelphia resident Trish Gohl founded the organization in 2010 after her dog died and her nephew was deployed to Afghanistan. She got the idea from watching the Military Channel documentary "No Dog Left Behind."

    "In the soldiers' minds, these dogs have earned the

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