I would like to let you all know about our dear beagle/corgi mix Chipper, who is 14 years old! I walk him a great deal -- 20-40 mins a day all things and weather considered. He is neutered, but has three girlfriends in the neighborhood ... And survived a pit bull attack with a six inch wound, five surgeries, a near fatal infection, a will to live --- and a determined pair of owners! Who also had time in the er for that. Anyway, he is a Buddha, dog. Of a thousand names. My best friend. :)
(...) This experience led me to undertake experiments on animal-human relations to try to understand how animals make us care so much about them. Biologically, I wanted to know if pets cause the people to release oxytocin, known as the neurochemical of love, and traditionally associated with the nurturing of one's offspring.
My lab at Claremont Graduate University in California pioneered the study of the chemical basis for human goodness. In the past decade, we have done dozens of studies showing that the brain produces the chemical oxytocin when someone treats us with kindness.
I call oxytocin the "moral molecule" because it motivates us to treat others with care and compassion. Oxytocin was classically associated with uterine contractions in humans, and in rodents caring for offspring. Our studies showed that a large number of agreeable human interactions—from trusting a stranger to hold money for you, to dancing, to meditating in a group—causes the release of oxytocin and, at least temporarily, makes us tangibly care about others, even complete strangers.
In our animal experiment, 100 participants came into my lab and we obtained blood samples from them to establish their baseline physiologic states. Then they went into a private room and played with a dog or cat for 15 minutes. We did a second blood draw after this, and then had participants interact with each other to see how they behaved toward humans, too. If animals caused oxytocin release in humans, it would explain my surprise attachment to my dog Teddy, and perhaps why people spend thousands of dollars to treat a pet medically rather than euthanize it and simply get a new animal.
Our previous studies showed that when humans engage in social activities with each other, oxytocin levels typically increase between 10 percent and 50 percent. The change in oxytocin, measured in blood, indexes the strength of the relationship between people. When your little daughter runs to hug you, your oxytocin could increase 100 percent. When a stranger shakes your hand, it might be 5 or 10 percent. If the stranger shaking your hand is attractive, oxytocin might increase 50 percent. Oxytocin is considered a reproductive hormone. It increases powerfully during sexual climax, establishing long-term bonds between romantic partners. Our experiments focus on what causes the brain to make oxytocin and its behavioral effects.
The dog and cat study showed that neither species consistently increased oxytocin in humans. Only 30 percent of participants had an increase in oxytocin after playing with an animal. We found that one factor predicted whether playing with a dog would increase oxytocin: the lifetime number of pets of any type one had owned.
The opposite was true for those who interacted with cats. Greater lifetime pet ownership caused oxytocin to fall linearly. Dogs are simply more "people-oriented" than cats, and previous pet ownership seems to have trained our brains to bond with them.
We also found that dogs reduced stress hormones better than cats (no surprise there!). When stress hormones were lower, people in the experiment trusted strangers with more of their own money. This may tell us why people who own dogs are judged as more trustworthy than those who don't. The human-canine bond appears to be powerful and important to both species.
Many dogs, and sometimes other mammals, exhibit another human-like behavior: play. I was curious if animals can form friendships with other animals and was invited to take part in a small-scale experiment for BBC television that would give me a chance to test this.
As in our laboratory experiment, I wanted to see if cross-species animal play causes oxytocin synthesis. This would be biological evidence for animal friendships. That's how I ended up in Arkansas with a goat in my lap. (...)
Location: Back Home Again in Indiana Gender: Zodiac: Chinese Yr:
Apr 21, 2014 - 3:56pm
This last time I bought elk antlers. Spendy, but they'll last a long time. Plus, I usually buy the base, rather than the points.
I didn't buy the ones I have now. My current dog inherited them from his predecessor or possibly even the guy in the avatar who went out into the woods and brought them back himself. They do last an incredibly long time.