In dogs, we found that activity in the caudate increased in response to hand signals indicating food. The caudate also activated to the smells of familiar humans. And in preliminary tests, it activated to the return of an owner who had momentarily stepped out of view. Do these findings prove that dogs love us? Not quite. But many of the same things that activate the human caudate, which are associated with positive emotions, also activate the dog caudate. Neuroscientists call this a functional homology, and it may be an indication of canine emotions.

The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.


From Dogs Are People, Too in NYT. I’ve seen this article circling around on FB and I have to say it’s quite intriguing. Of course I know Figgy loves me (growling is just how he shows he cares) but I will wait until scientists catch up. 


Chihuahua and pit bull dream team still looking for their forever home!  »

We wrote about these guys last year and looks like they still have not found their true home. I know it’s hard to think about taking in two dogs but I hear it’s actually often easier to have two dogs because they entertain each other. But here’s their story, it’s too sweet:

Nina and Dutch, otherwise known as “The Odd Couple” are a bonded pair that must be adopted together. Both are five years old, crate-trained, friendly, great with cats and dogs. They are being fostered in Pittsburgh, PA but they will go to wherever their perfect home is. Both are vegan dogs, Natural Balance.

Originally, Nina came from a horrific abuse situation in MS, and Dutch was a neglect case from GA. They met in foster care 4 years ago and it was love, love, love. Here’s the dynamic between this seemingly unlikely duo…Nina is a pitbull and is quite meek and shy. She can be found cuddling on the couch and being mushy with those that she knows best. Dutch is a chihuahua who makes sure that no one messes with her best friend! She is Nina’s right hand bodyguard, and her fierce protector. We don’t mean this to say she attacks when someone pets Nina! However, Dutch is protective of Nina with other dogs, though in a sort of Ren and Stimpy kind of way! It’s nothing that a few small corrections doesn’t stop.

They are accustomed to living with cats and are currently in a foster home with three other dogs. Both are very dog friendly. Nina needs a little help being assertive, as she can be a bit of a doormat to other dogs. Dutch, on the other hand, is very assertive and usually picks up where Nina leaves off! Both LOVE to go for walks and cuddle. Nina takes some time and patience to warm up, and is fearful of small children. Her foster family has a 5 yo child that she is warming up to nicely, but Nina naturally gets scared of the unfamiliar. These girls are not difficult, but because of their unique combination of traits, we want them to be in a house that is pretty dog savvy. They were given up after three years due to circumstances of their owner; it was not a reason that related to the dogs. These girls are TRULY a one in a million pair, and thus, we are looking for the special home.

Please feel free to email vegan28@gmail.comif you would like to talk more with their foster mom. Nina is just about the beautiful girl you have EVER seen and we get compliments wherever we go on how gorgeous and sweet she is. Dutch is a little prancing spitfire, a true diva, but not a whiny one! Thanks for looking!

And just look at these goofballs!:

So if you or anyone you know would at all consider taking in this pair, please contact the foster!


Another police officer kills another family dog  »

Payton, above, was shot in the head for no real reason, and the police wouldn’t even allow the family to have the body.

An Ohio county deputy sheriff was fired for using a “garden tool” in an alleged attempt to kill and bury a dog that had been injured in a car accident. The dog was later “found wandering near the road.” A Texas family has hired an attorney after a police officer responded to their home invasion call by shooting their Saint Bernard in the head.

Dude, what is it with police murdering dogs? Hug it out instead, guys! Once again, contact your local police department, and ask that they start training cops in effective, nonviolent ways to deal with animals so that this same sad story stops happening.


It’s Toby time! Revisiting my favorite maltipoo  »

I thought there was no room in my heart for dogs. Cats, I understand them; they are moody, picky, sassy, make no qualms about wanting to scratch your eyes out if you mess with them and when they love you, it’s like being initiated into a super-secret club in which you two are the only members.

My cold, dark heart began to melt last summer when I met my sister’s dogs, Jake and Billy. They loved me the instant they met me (I do always appreciate having the upper hand) and followed me around as if I was the leader of their playful, slobbery doggie pack.

Billy and Jake. Jake suffers from red eye, much like myself.

Now, it’s official: Toby has stolen my heart and is running with it. I read this little guy’s updates everyday, and just bought the homemade vegan dog biscuits for Jake and Billy. Hopefully my sister will be able to give me a review by the end of the week!image
Toby is having a slew of medical problems, yet his parents, John and Veronica, can see the fight in his eyes and are doing everything they can to get him healthy again.

John explained to me, “Toby is family. By choice we don’t have kids; our dogs are our kids. Toby has a shot at a normal (or closely monitored normal-ish) life but he needs time to get regulated. The idea to sell the biscuits was inspired by the Apron Campaign, which I got Veronica for her birthday last year. We looked for ideas of what we could do to help raise money for Toby so we could afford to keep his treatment going.”image
Toby and his “sis,” Meg

I’m rooting for you Toby! If we lose you, I’ll never find it in my heart love dogs again! Okay, not true. You’ve actually opened my eyes to the adorable world of dogs, and perhaps one day, when I have the living space, I will have a pooch companion.image
Toby, I love you so!

[Photos of Toby by John and Veronica]


Meet Toby! Help save his maltipoo life!  »

This cutie pie maltipoo needs our help, stat. You see, Toby has been diagnosed with both diabetes and a disease called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). He needs only insulin for his diabetes, but a cocktail of other medications for the IMHA, including prednisone, cyclosporen, doxycyclin and leflunemide. The meds for IMHA actually make Toby’s diabetes worse, and therefore he has been hospitalized. We all know how quickly vet bills can add up!

The family caring for Toby has created Time For Toby, a blog explaining his condition and how he came to be a part of their household. It also serves as an avenue to buy vegan dog biscuits, vegan biscotti or simply donate some cash to help support Toby. They need money to buy more time, to find a perfect balance of meds to regulate this little guy. You know you won’t be able to look yourself in the mirror if you don’t help out, so DO IT!


Allyn Lee, author of A New Job for Pearl, sent me a copy of the book! You remember how great I said it was? It’s still great! And there are still 100 copies to sell before they can sponsor a rescue dog at the  National Disaster Search Dog Foundation!
Hang on, Meave, you may be saying, what is the author doing sending you a book for free, when giving copies away doesn’t get them any closer to their sponsorship goal? The answer is that the copy I got is actually a reprint by the ASPCA, independent of Ms. Lee and the kids’ fundraising! All sending it to me did was remind me that this is a great cause to which we all might want to contribute.
Your Vegansaurus: always ready with another charitable way for you to spend your disposable income!

Allyn Lee, author of A New Job for Pearl, sent me a copy of the book! You remember how great I said it was? It’s still great! And there are still 100 copies to sell before they can sponsor a rescue dog at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation!

Hang on, Meave, you may be saying, what is the author doing sending you a book for free, when giving copies away doesn’t get them any closer to their sponsorship goal? The answer is that the copy I got is actually a reprint by the ASPCA, independent of Ms. Lee and the kids’ fundraising! All sending it to me did was remind me that this is a great cause to which we all might want to contribute.

Your Vegansaurus: always ready with another charitable way for you to spend your disposable income!


Shelter dogs make the best running buddies!  »

Another day, another tearjerker from Philly! Well, this one probably won’t make you cry but it’s super-adorbs. The Monster Milers is an organization in Philadelphia that hooks runners up with shelter dogs so they can go jogging together! For the dogs, getting regular exercise and companionship can be the thing that keeps them sane during their shelter days. For the people, Monster Milers say dogs are great running buddies because they are good motivators and they also keep you safe when you go running at night—Philly’s a rough town! But if you were jogging with a cute bully, nobody would mess with you! That’s my word.

Monster Milers encourages adoption in general but more specifically they target the running community. Nice strategy! And I bet if someone goes jogging with a dog a few times, it’s REALLY hard not to end up bringing it home. I mean, look at Chicken Dumpling! RIDICULOUS.


Book review: A New Job for Pearl!  »

You remember Pearl
, the ASPCA Dog of the Year 2010; Mike from Occupied Las Vegas told us about her, and her biography that was written by Allyn Lee and illustrated by the students of Connie Forslind’s 2010 second-grade class. Over the holiday, Mike sent me his copy of this book, A New Job for Pearl, to share with all of Vegansaurus!

It’s really simply put together; each page is a different picture drawn by a different kid, generally illustrating the few sentences on it, no fancy margin-work or fonts or anything—the focus is clearly the pictures. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any sample pages online, so I had to photograph a couple for you.

Someone studied the canine form before she drew her shelter dogs!

Pearl’s at work, and deliriously happy.

All the profits from its sale will go toward the $10,000 required to sponsor “the training of a search dog” at the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF). Author Allyn Lee explains that “the standard SDF way involves the sponsor ‘adopting’ a paired handler-dog team. This way it is a sure thing, because the standards these dogs have to meet are remarkable, and SDF wants the sponsor to know that the team has been tested and will put the extensive (and expensive!) training to work.” It’s not guaranteed that the dog they sponsor will be a rescue dog like Pearl, and although SDF offered to direct A New Job for Pearl's money to pay for Pearl's continued training, Lee says she really wanted to help out a newer dog to the program. She says that “SDF will match us with a dog in Northern California so we can meet with the dog initially and continue to stay in contact over time…when we are ready to sponsor.”

What does “ready to sponsor” mean? It means, when they finally have the $10,000 to cover the cost of the program, which they’ll earn by selling all 1,000 copies of the first edition of A New Job for Pearl. It’s only $12.50 with shipping, and Lee says that they still have 120 books left unsold! You guys, they’re so close to their goal. This is where your Vegansaurus says, If you care about rescue dogs, or Search and Rescue dogs, you really should buy this book. Make everyone you know with kids buy this book too, to help enforce the idea that Rescued Dogs Are the Most Deserving Dogs. Aside from which, the illustrations are SO SWEET AND CUTE, and Pearl’s story is such a lovely, happy one. Buy the book! And know your money will go to helping another dog become a hero.

[Thanks to Mike for lending us his book and for being so vigilant on behalf of the dogs of Lied Animal Shelter!]


News from Las Vegas: Why adopt Search and Rescue dogs when you can buy them?  »

Mike from Occupied Las Vegas sent a couple of photos of some adorable, adoptable dogs living at Lied Animal Shelter! This is Crosby. He has a 20 percent chance of not being euthanized!

Mike also sent us some information about a new fun way the U.S. government is helping promote dog-breeding! 
He writes,

As you probably know shelter dogs are commonly used in Search and Rescue work. They have been used successfully at Ground Zero, the recent Haiti earthquake, and, oh fuck it, here’s a listIn fact a dog named Sonic was rescued from Lied and is now working with both the Dallas, Texas Fire Department and FEMARecently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to BUY 3,000 dogs from BREEDERS at a cost of $4,000 EACH. On any given day there are an average 260 dogs available for adoption at the Lied “Adoption Bungalows,” many of whom meet the breed, weight, temperament criteria to be a candidate for Search and Rescue testing; 80 percent will not find homes. They euthanize 80 to 100 dogs a day here.

I don’t have to point out the madness of a government agency paying $4,000 for a dog, while cash-strapped municipalities bear the cost of euthanizing clearly qualified animals on the other. I have been unsuccessful in trying to contact DHS to get information on how to submit candidates for their program. Sorry to be such a bummer, but I’m hoping Vegansaurus can use the power of its mighty bully pulpit to help get this changed. I’ll bet Rocket Dog Rescue has a couple of candidates right now too. Sometimes the very qualities that get a dog kicked out of his home, like hyperactivity and obsessive toy-playing, are the very qualities that make a great SAR dog. 

A couple of weeks ago I enlisted the help of a former Department of Defense Navy procurement employee who speaks fluent Governmentese. She located the phone number of the Customs and Border Protection Canine Center in Front Royal, Va. and spoke with Tim Spitler. He stated that although they had used shelter dogs in the past, their legalstaff has stopped the practice of accepting rescue dogs until they can come up with a way to do it legally, because it constitutes a gift to a federal agency.

I’m guessing the shelters would be happy to charge DHS the $4,000 if it would help them satisfy their financial regulations. I was at the Animal Shelter yesterday and there were a half-dozen Lab mixes who met the criteria for the DHS Canine Program. Crosby has the intelligence, high energy and personality to make a great service dog, but the very boldness and hyper-energy that make him such a great candidate freaked out potential adopters.

Lied is a high-kill shelter; 80 percent of these dogs will probably not get adopted.

So what can we do? Obviously, we can contact our government officials to tell them that allowing hundreds of dogs to die every day because of a legal loophole is fucking disgusting. Every patriotic reader can agree to that, regardless of where you stand on animal rights.

Look at all the adorable dogs on Mike’s Flickr page. How many of them could be living the American Dream right now? They should be given the chance to turn their innate qualities into gainful employment, just like everybody else. Why can’t they have it? Would it be so hard to write some kind of shelter dog acquisition policy? Even dog-haters can agree that saving government money is a net positive.

Tell everyone you know about this problem, and get them to contact their officials and representatives, too. If “everyone you know” are all jerks, just send them this photo of Crosby, and ask how many of them think it’s acceptable to let him die because legal issues are complicated. COME ON.

[Send your adoptable/adorable animal photos/stories to Vegansaurus!]

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