No Fair


It is one of those lazy, pondering kind of days when I must have too much time on my paws and I begin thinking. Did you know that you people are a constant source of amusement to us? You are always conducting some kind of research on our behaviors. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at how dogs react when a buddy is rewarded for the same trick in an unequal way.

What researchers did was conduct a number of experiments with dogs who knew how to respond to the command shake. Most of the dogs were happy to shake whether they got a reward or not, but that changes when another dog was rewarded with a piece of food while they received nothing. We found that the dogs hesitated significantly longer when obeying the command to give the paw, the researchers write. The unrewarded dogs eventually stopped cooperating.

Try this little test at home. Place two or more of your pets next to each other and give them treats. Give one a piece that is just a little smaller than the other one gets and watch their expression. Did the one with the smaller piece shoot you a look that said, Hey, thats not fair? You didnt need a big, expensive research project to prove that dogs understand fairness and get jealous did you?

Another study conducted at Duke University suggested that cats have developed through evolution, a profoundly inefficient gait, tailor-made to creep up on a mouse or a bird in slow motion. Oh, really! Funds for this study were provided by the National Science Foundation.

As I said, you are very amusing to us. I guess we are also very amusing to you, too. Isnt that great? Maybe that is one reason why we never tire of being in the company of humans and you never get tired of hanging with us. That must have been the plan when we first took up keeping company and will do so for as long as we roam our little planet.

On another issue, if you have concerns about the peanut paste recall or you have been reading about illness caused by chicken jerky products made in China, you are not alone. As always, be careful what you buy. Check the FDA website for recalls and think about purchasing from a reputable pet food seller, such as Pet Sage and Natures Nibbles, where the owners really know the science behind their products.

There are two events coming up I want to tell you about. The first is the Animal Welfare League of Alexandrias 5th Annual Black Tie and Tails Gala. It is on Saturday, February 14, and the theme this year is 007-The Dog Who Loved Me. Human attendees can bring a dog date. What a neat way to spend Valentines Day and a chance to support the AWLAs mission, which is to inspire compassion for all living things, to provide shelter to animals in need, and to promote adoptions, animal welfare and responsible pet ownership in our community. For more information, go to

The second event is an opportunity for you to show us off at the March 7 St. Patricks Day Fun Dog Show. It takes place at Market Square and there are lots of great categories to compete in. My favorite is the best owner-dog look-alike contest. For information on participating, contact Michelle DEttorre at Karing by Kristina at 703.329.1043 or at