Weekly News Roundup 10/12–10/18


Most unusual pet insurance claim

Two German shepherd dogs trapped in an abandoned missile silo for three weeks won an award for this year’s most unusual pet insurance claim. The Hambone Award is presented by Nationwide, the country’s largest pet insurer. Three-year-old Ziva and two-year-old Zeus got through a hole in a fence in the backyard of Jessica Donges’ home in Medical Lake, Washington, in March. That began a frantic three-week search for the two German shepherd dogs by Donges, her husband, friends, and family. They posted fliers, used social media, and made regular checks at the local dog shelter. Donges had already checked around the missile silo, located about 200 yards from her backyard and surrounded by a fence, but decided to checked it one more time. This time, she noticed a hole in the fence and went through it. She heard barking and found the dogs inside the silo in a hole about 10 feet deep and 40 feet long filled with 6 inches of water. Amazingly, neither dog was seriously injured, although both lost about 25 to 30 pounds. One had a gashed leg. Still, both dogs were able to walk back home. And Donges was able to file an insurance claim.

When famous pets die, the loss is more than emotional

Chloe, who had 180,000 followers and several brand partnerships, is a case study in a new kind of celebrity death. Her owner, Loni Edwards, treated the four-year-old miniature French bulldog like her baby. “We did everything together. Every flight. Every meeting. We cuddled every night,” said Edwards. Then tragedy struck. Chloe went in for a routine surgery and was taken to a 24-hour pet hospital to recover. There, staff mis-calibrated an oxygen machine and blew out the 14-pound dog’s lungs. She went into cardiac arrest and died shortly afterwards. “Chloe was my child and they killed her in such an awful, thoughtless way,” said Edwards, choking back the tears. Chloe was more than just Edwards’ beloved pet: She was also a rising pet celebrity on Instagram, where she went by Chloe the Mini Frenchie, with more than 180,000 followers and several lucrative brand partnerships. And when your pet is an Instagram celebrity, her death means more than a loss of a loving companion—it means the loss of her earnings, too.

Sleeping with dogs could help alleviate effects of chronic pain in humans

Most people with chronic pain recognize the importance of good sleeping habits. A night spent tossing and turning can mean a day full of aches and pains. For that reason, dog lovers are often told they shouldn’t sleep with their pet. One survey of pet owners found that more than half said their dogs tend to wake them at least once during the night. “Typically, people who have pain also have a lot of sleep problems, so usually if they ask their healthcare provider about a pet, they’re told to get the pet out of the bedroom. But that standard advice can actually be damaging,” says Cary Brown, PhD, a professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Brown is coauthor of a small study published in the journal Social Sciences, in which seven chronic pain patients who slept with their dogs were asked about their pets’ impact on their sleep. Brown said the response was “overwhelmingly positive.”

Texas Tech pushes ahead on veterinary school despite controversy

Nothing apparently has dampened Texas Tech University’s resolve to open a school of veterinary medicine—not the potential loss of a $10 million gift, the untimely exit of its beloved and influential chancellor, nor rival Texas A&M University’s war on the budding program. On October 4, the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents approved the hiring of Western Builders, a local commercial contractor, to manage and oversee preconstruction of the veterinary school. The program is to occupy 250,000 square feet of space, including buildings, barns, and open areas in and around Amarillo, the largest city in the Texas Panhandle. While the university aims to funnel large-animal practitioners into underserved rural areas of west Texas, critics say that two public veterinary programs will drain the applicant pool and state resources.

Study: Animals can tell time

A new study from Northwestern University has found some of the clearest evidence yet that animals can judge time. By examining the brain’s medial entorhinal cortex, the researchers discovered a previously unknown set of neurons that turn on like a clock when an animal is waiting. “Does your dog know that it took you twice as long to get its food as it took yesterday? There wasn’t a good answer for that before,” said Daniel Dombeck, PhD, who led the study. “This is one of the most convincing experiments to show that animals really do have an explicit representation of time in their brains when they are challenged to measure a time interval.” Dombeck is an associate professor of neurobiology in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. When planning the study, Dombeck’s team focused on the medial entorhinal cortex, an area located in the brain’s temporal lobe that is associated with memory and navigation. Because that part of the brain encodes spatial information in episodic memories, Dombeck hypothesized that the area could also be responsible for encoding time



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