Newsletter May 2018
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May 2018

Rays of Sunshine: Children and AAT

 

What better way to brighten a child’s day and put a smile on his face than the chance to interact and cuddle with one of nature’s furry friends? The benefits of caring for animals are enormous for children, and can have a therapeutic effect, often helping children overcome social and emotional issues.


For one thing, caring for pets encourages nurturance, responsibility, and adherence to a daily schedule. These benefits are helpful for any child. The ability to interact with a dog or cat can have a very positive impact on a child’s quality of life, giving them energy, happiness and friendship.

Interacting with a pet can also enhance recovery after a serious illness. In children with emotional or behavioral problems, playing with animals can reduce negative behaviors and even improve a child’s ability to participate in therapeutic treatment. Children can be very trusting and easily achieve a level of intimacy with animals.

Animals can be beneficial for children with developmental disabilities like Autism. When these children help feed, groom, exercise, and play with therapy animals, they begin to develop motor and organizational skills. Playing with animals also helps them learn to relate to and communicate better in interpersonal relationships. A therapy animal provides the child with ability to practice interpersonal relationships and interactions.


This video explores the ways in which children with Autism can benefit from therapy animals.

Children suffering from insecure attachment due to abuse or neglect can benefit from working with therapy animals. Because these children often distrust adults and have trouble communicating due to trauma at an early age, animal assisted therapy can be extremely helpful. This allows children to interact with a creature who they can trust and communicate with in their own way.  

In other children, working with animals helps them have a “social lubricant” or a way for them to feel safe in a therapeutic setting. Animals’ enthusiastic greetings can help children feel more comfortable. Because animals are non-judgmental, many children may find it easier to trust them. Other children find support in animals during emotional conflict.


In a hospital setting, the presence of an animal can help reduce pain or perceived pain. Studies have shown that a dog’s presence may serve as a distraction from pain, or even cause the relief of endorphins, leading to a feeling of well-being.

Finally, children with behavior problems in school reported higher self-esteem when a dog was present in the classroom. Some showed greater emotional stability and interest in learning during school. They also showed more respect towards their peers and felt that they had a “friend” to bond with.

It’s no surprise that animals can have such a positive impact in a child’s life. Just petting a dog can make anyone relaxed, happy and content.

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The Mysterious Purple Octopus Mystery

When we go to the beach, focused on sun and sand and the cool ocean breeze, we hardly ever stop to consider the vast universe of mystery and mayhem that lurks just beneath the water’s surface. However, the reality is that the ocean is filled with an incredibly diverse array of life, and scientific mysteries that we as a species have yet to solve. One such mystery has baffled scientists in the Pacific Ocean, when hundreds of purple octopus mothers were observed clinging to an undersea volcano.

Miles beneath the ocean’s surface, a group of scientists spotted something that was completely bizarre: hundreds of octopuses clung to the hardened lava, protecting clusters of octopus eggs. During multiple dives, the scientists’ cameras captured as many as 100 octopuses at a time, an unbelievable sight.

To further complicate the matter, the octopuses were discovered to be a new species. They were about the size of dinner plates, with enormous eyes and purple bodies. They had smooth skin and two rows of suckers on their arms. However, the genus that they fall under are usually loners that do not gather in communities of other octopuses. This made the discovery all the more baffling. Why would these creatures gather in such an enormous crowd, going against their very nature?

Deep sea octopuses like these often have trouble extracting the oxygen they need to survive from water that is too hot. This made it all the stranger that they were huddling in an area with water that was too warm for them. In fact, the researchers who investigated the colony found that none of the embryos were developing and that the adults were unlikely to survive. Yet they continued to cling together.

Researchers stated that there were approximately 606 octopuses off the coast of Costa Rica. Why were so many octopuses drawn to that particular location, given that it could cost their lives and the lives of their unborn offspring? It was certainly not a desirable place to lay eggs. The heat can often speedup octopuses’ metabolic rate, causing them to need more oxygen. Water seeping from the cracks in the lava had even less oxygen than the surrounding areas. These conditions created stress levels that could be severe and even lethal in the octopus mothers and their eggs.

It’s possible that conditions were better when the mothers initially attached their eggs, and once the eggs were in place, they didn’t want to abandon them. It’s also possible that these individuals were forced to relocate because of overcrowding in cooler, more desirable areas. If this was the case, it is likely that an even bigger group of octopus mothers was nearby.

Many scientists believe that this gathering of octopus mothers is indicative of even more octopuses of the same species. Octopuses only produce one group of eggs in their entire lives. In order for such a huge population to be sustained, there must have been even more octopuses to replace the dying mothers and eggs.

Despite these theories, however, the mystery of the purple octopus mothers is ultimately still open. We have so much more to learn about life in the largely unexplored depths of the ocean. 

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Top Six Animals of the Amazon

No, we’re not talking about your favorite way to order products online. The Amazon Rainforest is home to some of the richest biodiversity on the planet. Stay tuned for our top picks of the jungle.

1.     Anaconda

The Amazon rainforest is the perfect home for an Anaconda, as Anacondas love wet areas and are agile in the water. Anacondas have eyes on top of their heads which allow them to watch for prey without being seen beneath the water’s surface. Anacondas are most famous for swallowing their prey whole. In the depths of the Amazon jungle, they can eat pigs, turtles, and even jaguars.

2.     Howler Monkey


The Howler Monkey didn’t get its name for no reason. Howler Monkeys scream loudly to warn other animals to stay out of their territory. Though their roar may seem intimidating, they eat mainly fruit. Howler Monkeys live in groups of 10 to 30. In the Amazon, they are one of the largest monkeys and produce one of the loudest calls. In fact, they can be heard for up to three miles.

3.     Scarlet Macaw


Like many parrots, Macaws are extremely intelligent and the Scarlet Macaw is no different. One of the oldest and wisest animals in the jungle, the Scarlet Macaw can live up to 60 years or more. Although Scarlet Macaws are one of the most beautiful creatures in the Amazon rainforest, their populations have been rapidly declining, largely due to poaching. Many people want to keep these exotic birds as pets, but in doing so, humans have threatened the wildlife population.

4.     Amazon River Dolphin

When you think of dolphins, you probably think of the beach. However, there are large populations of dolphins that live in the Amazon rainforest. These Amazon River Dolphins live in the rivers along with otters and many other animals. The Amazon River Dolphin is the largest and most common river dolphin on the planet. It eats fish and occasionally turtles. Check out this video of the Amazon River Dolphin, also known as the pink river dolphin, in action.

5.     Jesus Lizard


Catholic explorers who discovered the Jesus Lizard were impressed by its ability to run on water. It reminded them of the Gospel story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. The Jesus Lizard can run across a pond or a stream at 5 miles per hour for about 20 meters when running from predators. Its toes have a special webbing that allow it to accomplish this feat.

6.     Arapaima

From the rivers of the Amazon, the Arapaima is a truly terrifying fish that lives in the Amazon rainforest and its surrounding lakes. This fish is a carnivore, feeding on mainly birds and fish. It can reach up to 200 pounds and nine feet tall. If you ever considered taking a dip in the Amazon river, think again!

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How to Choose a Best Friend

You’ve decided to join the legions of Americans who dote on their dogs and coo over their cats. It’s a big step, deciding to adopt. Consider these questions:

●      How do you choose someone who is going to be your best friend for the next decade or more?

●      What are you looking for in a pet?

●      Do you want someone who waits for you at the door?

●      Someone who will join you on long walks, or bike rides?

●      Someone to cuddle on the couch with you?

●      Consider what type of pet suits your lifestyle. If you travel a lot, or work very long hours, you must take that into account. You may need to hire a dog walker and a pet trainer.

●      Do you have someone lined up who could take over for you in an emergency?


You’re making a commitment to care for this animal for the rest of its life.

Do Your Homework

Once you’ve made your decision, you need to narrow it down to breed, size and temperament. A big dog needs room to move and would be happier with access to a large yard or lots of nearby dog parks and walking spots. Do you live alone, do you have kids? Does anyone have allergies? Take into account your budget, your household, and your location, before selecting your new pet.

Look into breed characteristics, but know that every animal is unique. For example, it’s a popular myth that all cats are independent, but I have a cat with the personality of a needy Golden Retriever. Get to know the animal and learn everything you can about its history and background to help ensure you make a good match.  

Plan Ahead

Proper planning will cut down on future headaches. Before you bring your new friend into your home, do some set up. Find a place for bedding and food and water dishes. Line up a local veterinarian and make your first appointment for shots and certifications. Decide if your pet will have the run of the house. If not, arrange furniture and put up gates to help delineate your pet’s territory. Remove delicate or dangerous items from this part of the house. If your pet will have yard access, check for the presence of harmful plants and ensure all fences and gates are in good working order. Buy plenty of toys and snackables as these can help ease your pet’s anxiety and build a rapport with you.

Going Home

Your pet will probably be a little uncomfortable and shy the first few days home. New places and people are a lot to deal with. He may have potty accidents at first, or get a little chewy or scratchy with the furniture. If your pet is coming to you from a shelter, he is even more likely to be stressed. Try to limit visitors to the home, and keep the environment as peaceful as possible, while your pet is becoming acclimated to his new surroundings.


Training

Reinforce positive behaviors with plenty of petting and treats. Start training on day one, and be consistent. Ideally, take a few day off to be home with your pet when he arrives. Make short trips away from him throughout the day. This helps him learn that when you leave, you always come back.  Provide treats when you’re leaving to help keep your pet occupied while you’re out.  Keep your returns low key to minimize stress.

It may take six or eight weeks to bond with your new pet. Engage in activities that will help make this easier. Take plenty of walks together and engage in play. There are no shortcuts to getting to really know each other; you have to put in the investment of copious amounts of time. Feeding, grooming and playing with your pet will increase communication between you and help the relationship to grow. If you invest the time and energy needed, you will be rewarded with a friendship that lasts for years.

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