Dog’s head size used as a predictor

February 3, 2011

Tell me about the size and width of a dog’s head, and I can make an educated guess how fast he or she might be.

OK, I can’t, but William Helton at the University of Canterbury can. His findings suggest you can be strong, or you can be fast, but probably not both. From Discovery News:

“In the real world, it would be hard to be both fast and efficient at running, and to be extremely strong in combat at the same time,” author William Helton told Discovery News. “Nature does not allow unlimited budgets and the trade-offs are often physical constraints.”

Helton, a senior lecturer in the University of Canterbury’s Department of Psychology, studied how well 217 dogs performed during International Weight Pulling Association sporting events for canines.

Brachycephalic, or broad-headed, dogs that participated included American Pit-Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Dolichocephalic, or more narrow-headed, breeds consisted of Samoyeds, Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes.

None of the studied breeds included the extremes of each condition. Pugs, for example, have incredibly broad heads, while Borzois are the polar opposite.

Excuse me, I need to go find my tape measure.

A Dog’s Breakfast: One of the most controversial –  and important –  documentaries on the pet food industry will finally premiere on U.S. television. “A Dog’s Breakfast” aired on Canadian TV in 2008. The story of what gave rise to the 2007 pet food recall will air a week from today, Thursday, Feb.10 at 10 p.m. on CNBC. It will repeat Friday at 1 a.m., then again on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 10 p.m. (Hat tip to Mary Cvetan)
Note: Ingrid King informed us that “A Dog’s Breakfast” has been pulled from the broadcast schedule without explanation. Stay tuned for updates if it returns.

Performance depends on the handler’s beliefs: Interesting piece in Science Daily about a study out of UC Davis’ Department of Neurology. How a drug or explosive-sniffing dog does in their duties can be swayed by what their handler believes.

The study, published in the January issue of the journal Animal Cognition, found that detection-dog/handler teams erroneously “alerted,” or identified a scent, when there was no scent present more than 200 times — particularly when the handler believed that there was scent present.

“…There are cognitive factors affecting the interaction between a dog and a handler that can impact the dog’s performance,” said Lisa Lit, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology and the study’s lead author.

“These might be as important — or even more important — than the sensitivity of a dog’s nose.”

Stuffed things? I love stuffed things! Remember Pets.com? I still have a Pets.com sock puppet around here somewhere. Even though they went belly up more than10 years ago, the idea is being resurrected by a new startup. SF Gate says PetFlow has learned the lesson from Pets.com, and intends to remain profitable.

“They sold product for below cost,” PetFlow co-founder Alex Zhardanovsky says of Pets.com. “You can’t get a customer to buy a product for half price and then later charge them twice the price. It makes no sense.”

PetFlow might not offer insanely low prices, but they’re making a profit on each order they ship and are projecting to break even by the end of the year. In January, PetFlow has shipped out 7,000 different orders resulting in $600,000 of revenue for the month.

Whereas Pets.com offered free shipping even on heavy bags of food, PetFlow charges a consistent $4.95 shipping fee per order. They also have an exclusive deal with FedEx that reduces their shipping costs even more – similar to the shipping deal Zappos has in place with UPS.

I just want them to have really good television ads.

They won’t catch us. We’re on a mission from Dog. My buddy Nancy Freedman-Smith at GoodDogz Blog wins the prize for this week’s best blog story.

Go Pack Go! Feel free to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, but I have it on good authority the Green Bay Packers will win. How do I know? Veterinary Pet Insurance says so (full disclosure – a Pet Connection sponsor). Their inside information? Dogs’ names. Don’t laugh. Last year, they successfully picked the New Orleans Saints, and the year before, they said the Steelers would beat the Cardinals. This year, if the Packers win, that’s three in a row.

Cat movie: I’ve seen literally hundreds of videos about cats. However, Cat Diaries is different. It’s sponsored by Friskies, but from the cat’s point of view. (Thanks, Patti S.)

Midnight madness: Thanks to Lisa in Toronto for this wonderful ad from the Winnipeg Humane Society.
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I always like to hear from readers, especially if you have tips, and links for interesting stories.  Give me a shout in the comments, or better yet, send me an e-mail

Photo credit: Borzoi, Flickr Creative Commons (Llima)

8 Comments »

  1. http://www.viddler.com/explore/jennifergoodwin/videos/4/

    This link should also be A Dog’s Breadfast..

    Comment by Carol V — February 3, 2011 @ 6:17 am

  2. CNBC pulled A Dog’s Breakfast – it will not air on 2/10 or 2/13. No information as to whether it will air at a later date.

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/41240842/CNBC_PROGRAMMING_CHANGE_ON_FEBRUARY_10TH_13TH_AND_14TH

    Comment by Ingrid King — February 3, 2011 @ 7:21 am

  3. Thanks, Ingrid.

    Comment by David S. Greene — February 3, 2011 @ 7:25 am

  4. http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/pets/article_683609e0-2efd-11e0-bb96-0017a4a78c22.html

    Comment by The OTHER Pat — February 3, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  5. Ya know, The Other Pat, I don’t even have words for that story. I honestly don’t. I can, however, suggest some appropriate hand gestures…

    Comment by David S. Greene — February 3, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  6. David, I got words! Personally I think NO live animals should go USPs. While baby birds are regularly shipped because they supposedly can last a couple of days on what they came into the world with, mistakes do happen. When I worked at a P.O. someone forgot to put a box of chicks and ducks on the truck. They were sitting out on the dock. Being an interferring kind of person I queried someone about it. They were brought inside and some well meaning, totally misguided person put a large pan of water in there. Then they and their box were wet. Some were already dead. I went to the supervisor, TOLD him I was clocking out to go home and get a heat lamp and electric cord. We took the water out and got them dried up, put them in a new dry box, but because there was no separator between the ducks and chix the ducks started pecking on the chickens. They got sent out by a special small truck as I kept pestering the supervisor about them having to wait for the next shipment. I wonder how many were alive by the time they got there.

    Comment by CathyA — February 4, 2011 @ 6:46 am

  7. Regarding Pets.com, the loss-leader idea makes sense in physical stores, where you can raise other prices and make up for it. But online, where every transaction as a competitor only a few mouse clicks away, it simply doesn’t make sense. This was a lesson that Buy.com (and my other online retailers from that era) learned the hard way. Customer loyalty online is very nearly nonexistent.

    Comment by Rob McMillin — February 4, 2011 @ 8:58 am

  8. Small-scale poultry farmers and backyard hobbyists / homesteaders absolutely *depend* on the USPS shipping day-old chicks from hatcheries and between small conservation breeders.

    It’s also an important feature in the control of poultry disease, as it makes it unnecessary for breeders and buyers to (very often) transfer adult birds between farms. Day-old chicks carry virtually no pathogens. Part of good flock husbandry is avoiding bringing in new adult birds (and strict quarantine when one does.)

    Mega-agribusiness send hundreds of thousands of chicks out on their own trucks, and I think we can safely bet that chick welfare is not exactly job one in these operations. Hogtie the small farmers because of concerns about shipping via USPS, and you not only hand that much more of the food supply right over to Frank Perdue and Jack DeCoster, you immediately bankrupt the hatcheries that have kept heritage breeds and their vital genomes a going concern for decades, as the genetic base of industrial poultry has constricted to alarmingly small dimensions.

    Big Ag would love to bankrupt the hatcheries and shut down all small producers and backyard growers.

    As long as the USPS does its job, there seem to be minimal welfare concerns with shipping chicks. I have received something on the order of 300 live chicks of four species via USPS in past three years, and believe it or not, have never had a single chick arrive dead or dying or in distress. I think I’ve lost two or three chicks within a week of shipping, and in each case, the chick appeared to have some intrinsic GI defect that only manifested when he started eating. (Alas, defective chicks are a fact of life in the avian world — not limited to domestic poultry.) That’s a better record than the chicks hatched here, whether in the incubator or under a broody hen.

    Cathy, what you describe really is a fiasco. It’s a good argument for USPS employees to be properly trained, and then to do their damned jobs properly and follow instructions.

    We’ve all got horror stories about dogs and cats murdered by airline incompetence. That’s an argument for requiring the airlines to perform due diligence and holding them accountable when they screw up, not one for forbidding them to transport animals. Imagine the consequences to both ethical breeding and rescue — not to mention pet-owning itself, in this highly mobile society — if we could never transport pets long distances by common carrier.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — February 4, 2011 @ 9:48 am

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