Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (

  • 6 Health Risks of Being a Serious Sports Fan

    The health problems that often plague athletes are well-known, but what about the zealous followers who watch them play? Aside from the risks associated with dashed hopes and happy dances, is there much to be concerned about? In fact, there is. Researchers have been taking a look at what happens to sports fans who are emotionally invested in the outcome of a big game, and while there can be positive benefits of being a fanatic for your team, at times, even being a fan can be treacherous.

    1. Heart attacks
    Because of the connection between emotions and cardiac health, heart-related deaths can rise or fall in a region depending on how the local teams fare. In 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat Arizona in the Super Bowl, for example, Pittsburgh-area doctors noticed 25 percent fewer circulatory heart-related deaths than average over the following eight days, according to Robert Kloner, a cardiology professor at the University of Southern California who talked to the Wall Street

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  • 7 Rainy Day Games to Play with Your Dog

    There are some amazing games by Nina Ottosson where your dog has to figure out the puzzle to find the treat. I have a few for my dog, and they're good for short-term, supervised entertainment.

    The only problem is that while these are entertaining, they're also food-based and don't require a whole lot of movement from your dog. The mental engagement is there, but physical exercise isn't. It's kind of like playing a board game while eating a whole bowl of popcorn and chocolate pretzels - you're entertained, but not staying healthy.

    Here are six ideas for active games you can play that will tire out your dog, engaging him (and you!) physically and mentally so that being inside is every bit as fun as being outside.

    1. Scent work with hidden treats
    Teaching your dog to discover prizes using only his nose is a great game for the body and mind. While all dogs have a great sense of smell, sometimes they have to be reminded to use it, and this exercise can get your dog excited

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  • Squirrel Rescued by Artist Now Paints for Charity

    Portrait of an artist: Winkelhimer Smith is a squirrelPortrait of an artist: Winkelhimer Smith is a squirrelWhen Shyla Mouton rescued a baby squirrel from a cat, she didn't expect the animal to survive the night. She certainly didn't expect her to become a painter.

    Mouton looked out her kitchen window in May 2012 and saw a cat attacking a tiny squirrel.

    "I rushed out there to help her. One of her front legs was messed up pretty bad. I put her in a little box on the porch to make her comfortable because I didn't think she would make it through the night," Mouton told America Now.

    But the 6-week-old squirrel pulled through, so Mouton named her Winkelhimer Smith and continued to nurse her back to health.

    Also see: Meet the squirrel that literally wears many hats

    It wasn't long before Winkelhimer began imitating Mouton, an artist who sells her work online.

    "I paint dolls and jewelry, and she just watches me all day long. They are very intelligent animals," she said.

    Mouton offered the young squirrel her own paintbrush, and soon Winkelhimer was painting alongside her.

    "She's Read More »from Squirrel Rescued by Artist Now Paints for Charity
  • Westminster Dog Show Opens Its Doors to Mutts

    Mutt lovers are excited by the newsMutt lovers are excited by the newsFor the first time mixed-breed dogs, or mutts, will be allowed to participate in a portion of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show on Feb. 8.

    Dubbed "All-American dogs," the non-purebred canines will compete in the Masters Agility Championship, which is new to the show this year. It will feature tasks like weaving around poles and jumping through hoops.

    However, mixed-breed dogs won't vie for the Best in Show award. That prestigious award will be reserved for a dog of one of 187 American Kennel Club-recognized breeds.

    Also see: 5 famous mutts from history

    Allowing mutts to compete in the agility portion of the show may have come as a response to animal activists who have long criticized Westminster for encouraging the breeding of purebred dogs while 60 percent of shelter dogs are euthanized.

    Critics say the dog show is an exercise in canine genetic engineering, but dog breeders say they're preserving dog breeds and helping people adopt compatible pets.

    The Westminster Read More »from Westminster Dog Show Opens Its Doors to Mutts
  • Post-Surgery Snuggles Are Puppy's Specialty

    One of the most important jobs at Denkai Community Veterinary Clinic belongs to a pit bull puppy named Dominic.

    Dominic came to the clinic after police found his mother and her litter of puppies in a Denver home during a raid. Denver has a ban on pit bulls, so the animals were transported to Denkai in Eaton, Colo.

    Vet technician Stephany Haswell offered to foster a couple of puppies, so she brought Dominic and one of his siblings home.

    To her surprise, her family and three dogs bonded quickly with Dominic, but Haswell was determined not to adopt another pet.

    However, it took time to find forever homes for the puppies. (Many pit bull advocates argue that the breed isn't the problem - it's the people who raise them.)

    Haswell encountered many such people as she searched for homes for Dominic and the rest of the litter. Several people interested in adopting the pit bulls refused home visits or were unwilling to undergo a background check.

    Also see: Pit bull saves cat

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  • The Cat and the Businessman: 2 Hurricane Survivors Take on Life After Sandy Together

    Shortly after Hurricane Sandy left much of New York devastated, nonprofit rescue organization Animal Care & Control found a skinny cat wandering around Brooklyn.

    Rescuers took the 6-month-old feline, which they named Joy, to the ASPCA's emergency boarding facility, which was set up post-storm to give people a central place to find lost pets.

    But when the facility closed in January, Joy remained unclaimed, so she was taken to the ASPCA's adoption center.

    "When she first came to our boarding facility, it was a bit of a running joke that 'Joy' was probably not the most fitting name for her," said Jess Oldham, ASPCA senior administrative director of community outreach. "She was a heartbreakingly frightened cat when she came in and the last thing she was exhibiting was joy."

    Oldham fostered Joy for nine months and worked with the frightened feline to help her feel more comfortable around people - and make her more adoptable.

    Joy hid in a box inside her cage for two weeks

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  • Dogs Are Cognizant that We're Suckers for 'Puppy Dog Eyes'

    Who can resist these eyes?Who can resist these eyes?Dogs may have evolved to capitalize on our preference for big-eyed, child-like faces, according to new research.

    When man's best friend raises its inner brows, it makes the eyes appear larger - like those of a baby - a look that prospective dog adopters respond to. Scientists at the University of Portsmouth observed 27 shelter dogs and counted the number of times each animal raised its inner brows and widened its eyes when a person approached.

    The dogs were all Staffordshire bull terriers and Mastiffs between the ages of 7 months and 8 years old, and the ones that raised their brows were consistently adopted faster than those that didn't. Head researcher Dr. Bridget Waller says this is evidence that domestic dogs have evolved to make these "puppy dog eyes."

    "The results of this research suggest that wolves which produced child-like expressions may have been more tolerated by humans, and so modern dogs have inherited these features," she said.

    Also see: Breeders create dog that Read More »from Dogs Are Cognizant that We're Suckers for 'Puppy Dog Eyes'
  • Can Yoga Keep You Healthier This Winter?

    YogaYogaby Lauren Walker, Mother Nature Network

    The worst place to work is a college campus. Well, maybe a junior high is worse, or maybe a day care center, or maybe just having kids. Or maybe it's just leaving your house at all, once the cold weather hits. And what am I referring to? I mean the worst places for getting sick in the winter. (Which is awful.)

    I worked for years at Norwich University teaching Energy Medicine Yoga. A constant rotation of students would come through, four times a week, week after week, sniffling, coughing, sneezing. Downward Dog, Upward Dog, cough cough cough - and I'd be walking around the room making adjustments, my hands all over their germy bodies and mats. Yet I never got sick!

    Yoga alone is a powerful tool for staying healthy. The postures help move lymph, the back bending helps open up the lungs, and the breathing practices help keep a strong flow of fresh oxygen in the cells. (Lymph is a clear fluid that fills the lymphatic system, which acts as a Read More »from Can Yoga Keep You Healthier This Winter?
  • 5 Realistic Weight Loss Tips for Any Time of Year

    by Jenni Grover MS RD LDN, Mother Nature Network

    When I wrote about eating healthy for the holidays, I suggested that now is not the time for extreme diets. In fact, I'm not sure there's ever a good time for extreme diets - even as part of a new year's resolution. We dietitians always get an influx of new weight loss patients in January and February. And that's great. What's more depressing, however, is that enthusiasm and results will often taper off as the year progresses.

    This year, instead of opting for the latest fad diet or setting unrealistic goals, spend some time thinking about goals you really can achieve, like these:

    Practice mindful eating
    Mindful eating is less about what you eat, and more about how you eat. So set some basic goals to start eating more consciously. There are many different facets to mindful eating, so be sure to pick goals that work for you. And don't overwhelm yourself with too many changes at once. Try setting out a specific timetable for

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  • George Clooney Wants to Go Home with You

    Robert Redford, a 5-year-old Labrador who loves to swim, is looking for his forever home.Robert Redford, a 5-year-old Labrador who loves to swim, is looking for his forever home.Who would you rather adopt: Rover or George Clooney? Many shelters are banking on the latter and looking to pop culture for dog-name inspiration.

    They say using a familiar name is a way to communicate a dog's personality and that it creates a bond between animals and potential adopters.

    "I noticed, when I was looking for my own dogs, people named them these names that were random with no clue into the personality of the dog that you're supposed to make a member of your family," Zarina Mak, founder of See Spot Rescued told the New York Times.

    The dog rescue has been naming its animals after celebrities since 2011. Recent adoptees include canines christened Nicolas Cage and Charlie Rose.

    Also see: George Clooney adopts shelter dog

    Naming dogs after celebrities isn't a new trend - Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have a yellow Labrador named Martha Stewart. But using celebrity names as a marketing strategy is.

    Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue began naming its adoptable dogs

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