Newsletter October 2017
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 October 2017

Trick or Treat: Tips for a Safe Halloween


Black cats may seem to love Halloween in the movies, but in reality, your pet faces more tricks than treats. With these tips, you and your pets can have a safe and spooky holiday.

The first thing you can do to protect your pets on Halloween is to keep cats inside. Black cats are often associated with evil, and can be the recipient of cruel pranks during the month of October (though any cat should be kept inside just in case). For this reason, many animal shelters refuse to adopt out black cats during October in fear of the cat being mistreated.

Dogs should be kept indoors too; many kids think that letting dogs out of their yards will be a funny trick when in fact this can be terrifying for both the dog and the owner. Especially on Halloween, dogs will often be confused and frightened by the noises and strangely dressed people. This can cause them to become lost or injured much more easily. Even if your dog is not let out, some kids find it amusing to poke or attack dogs through their fences, which can cause considerable damage, so keep your animals safe and indoors at all times.


You should also keep your pets in a secure room as trick-or-treaters arrive at your door. Cats can easily slip out the front door, especially with it constantly opening and closing. Additionally, dogs can become aggressive and defensive with the parade of strange people. They can also be scary to small children, so it is best to keep them somewhere else when handing out candy.

Remember that chocolate is poisonous to dogs and that all candy, including the wrappers, can cause dogs to become sick. Keep all candy out of reach of any pets and make sure your children know not to share with their furry friends. While you’re at it, keep candles and other decorations away from pets as well. Candles sitting on the ground in jack-o-lanterns can easily burn dogs and cats, or start fires if they are knocked over. Additionally, the ink that is used in some Halloween decorations is toxic to animals, and wires or strings of lights can easily be chewed, causing electrocution in some cases.


If you take your dog trick-or-treating, exercise caution and be sure not to lose track of how your dog is doing. Dogs can become frightened of loud, unfamiliar noises and begin to act strangely or try to run off. Make sure your dog has proper identification in case she does get loose so that it will be easier for her to return home. 

Finally, make sure your pet is okay with wearing a costume before trying to dress her up You shouldn’t force an outfit over a struggling and uncomfortable animal; costumes can often cause significant stress for animals that are not used to wearing clothes. If your dog or cat does seem okay with an outfit, make sure none of the pieces are cutting off circulation or stabbing them anywhere. Outfits with tight rubber bands can be painful, especially to wear for longer periods of time. Animals can also occasionally be allergic to materials that these costumes are made of, so make sure to monitor for signs of a reaction. You should also check that the outfit doesn’t limit movement, sight, or ability to breathe, and that there are no pieces that could be chewed-off and present a choking hazard. If your pet doesn’t seem to want a costume, try a festive bandana instead.

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Frida, Rescue Dog Extraordinaire

After a deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico, rescue efforts immediately went into effect in order to save any and all survivors. And rescuers saved hundreds of lives with the help of one Labrador retriever named Frida. Frida is employed by the Mexican navy (SEMAR) to conduct search and rescue missions in natural disasters. She dons protective goggles, a harness and booties on each of her paws. At seven years old, she has been able to detect the bodies of over 52 victims under the rubble. 


Fridas efforts came to light after she was praised by the Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto. Nieto tweeted a video of Frida, writing, This is Frida. She belongs to SEMAR and has helped save 52 lives in various natural disasters at national and international levels. Since then, Frida and her canine colleagues have been praised across social media and made global headlines. In fact, some have suggested that Frida replace the Mexican painter Diego Rivera on the 500-peso note.

Frida is part of the Canine Unit of the Secretariat of the Navy. She led a group of three dogs who assisted 25 rescue workers from the Navy in Juchitán to find missing persons. When shes not saving lives, Frida runs training courses for newly recruited dogs between the ages of one and five. Frida herself began working at two years old and is the leader of the Canine Unit of the Navy today.

Frida spent the majority of her efforts at Enrique Rebsamen school, located in southern Mexico City where 19 children and six adults died, but more than 11 children were rescued. She has also responded after an earthquake in Ecuador last year, an earthquake in southern Mexico, and a landslide in Guatemala in 2015, and a Mexico City gas explosion in 2013. 

As one of the countrys most trusted institutions, the Mexican Navy has a wider role than most armadas. Its Canine Unit has two other dogs besides Frida: Echo and Evil, both 18-month-old Belgian shepherds. The Mexican army also has a canine unit, with a dog named Maya who has been credited with finding two bodies after the earthquake. In addition, the United States and Chile have also brought rescue dogs to assist with the Mexican earthquake. However, no one can match Fridas skill, accomplishments, and fame. 


Because of Fridas age, Evil and Echo often go into collapsed buildings first. Then, if they detect a person, Frida follows up to confirm. She usually spends no more than 20 minutes inside. The dogs will bark if they detect signs of life, but if they find a corpse, they will stop suddenly and then carefully proceed. Many spaces that Frida and her colleagues search are less than 20 inches high, and in some places, the dogs have to crawl. This allows them to get much deeper into the rubble than rescuers could.

The navy tweeted a collage of photos of Frida last week, announcing her 52 rescues. The tweet received more than 4,000 retweets and nearly 7,000 likes. People called her a symbol of hope and a hero. Frida has touched not only her country, but the rest of the world with her heroism. She has even appeared on one mans tattoo. It is estimated that she has about a year left as a life-scent dog before her olfactory senses are expected to decline. At that time, she will retire to live with her handler, Israel Arauz Salinas. 

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Narwhals: The Unicorn of the Sea

If someone told you that there was an animal that had a horn protruding from its forehead like a unicorn, but lived in the ocean, you might think they were talking about a childrens book. However, this creature exists and its name is the Narwhal. Narwhals are a species of whale that live in the waters around Greenland, Canada, and Russia. They have a unicorn horn on their foreheads that is actually an enlarged tooth. Despite appearances, the tusk, which can grow as long as ten feet, has up to 10 million nerve endings inside and can feel. 


There has been much debate about how narwhals use their tusks, until scientists discovered that many narwhals use their tusks to stun Arctic cod by hitting them with quick, jagged movements. By doing this, narwhals are able to immobilize their prey and make them easier to attack. Until recently, most narwhal behavior has been largely mysterious to researchers due to the skittishness of narwhals compared to other whales. In fact, footage of this behavior was captured primarily through the use of drones.

Narwhals are large animals, weighing up to 4,200 pounds and growing as long as 17 feet. Some have up to two tusks, while others have none. Interestingly, they change color as they age. When they are born, narwhals are blue-gray. Juveniles are blue-black, and adults are mottle gray. Elderly narwhals are almost always white. Narwhals can live up to fifty years, and the most frequent cause of death is suffocation from being trapped under the ice. Since they are whales, they need to breathe air like other mammals. In fact, racks in the sea ice above them are what normally allows them to come up for air when they need it.

Depending on the time of year, a narwhals diet may change. In the spring, narwhals eat primarily cod, while in the winter, they prey more on flatfish. Narwhals do not have a dorsal fin, but they do have jointed neck vertebrae. This is more similar to other mammals than it is to most other dolphins and whales. Each year, as summer comes, narwhals migrate from bays into oceans. They can dive to about 4,900 feet for up to 25 minutes. 


Like other whales, narwhals use clicks, whistles and knocks to communicate with each other as well as to navigate and hunt for food. These sounds are created using air between chambers near the blow-hole. Clicking can sometimes be used for echo-location to find prey, or to locate obstacles. Whistles are rarely heard in narwhals compared to other whales such as the beluga. However, they do sometimes make trumpeting and squeaking door sounds.

Oil and gas development pose some of the largest threats to narwhals. Increased development leads to more shipping vessels, which creates more opportunities for collisions. This also increases underwater noise, which can often interfere with communication among whales including narwhals. As a species, narwhals are Near Threatened, meaning that they are not threatened with extinction currently, but may be in the near future.

Narwhals make several appearances in literature, art, and legend because of their unique appearance. Some cultures have believed that the tusks have magic powers such as curing poison. Additionally, narwhals are mentioned in the novels Moby Dick and Lore of the Unicorn. They certainly seem like something out of a fantasy novel!

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Eight Cat Behaviors You're Probably Misinterpreting

Cats are notoriously moody and hard to read. How well do you know your cat’s behaviors? Test your knowledge below.

1.     Nail Biting

Your cat might be biting her nails because she wants to groom herself. However, it’s also possible that she is experiencing anxiety and taking out in the same way that some humans do. Nail biting can indicate nervousness or boredom in cats, so be sure to figure out what is causing the problem and eliminate the stress in your cat’s life.


2.     Rubbing Against You

While some people think that cats rub against people because it feels good to them, they actually do this in order to give people their scents. By rubbing against you and transferring her scent to you, your cat is letting everyone know that you belong to her. Now they can tell just by smelling her scent on you. This is a sign of pride and affection.

3.     Uncovered Poo

What does it mean if your cat leaves uncovered poo in her litter box? This can sometimes mean that she is angry at you. Perhaps you recently showed her dominance and she wants to let you know that she is the dominant one. However, it can also be a sign of a medical issue. Don’t be too quick to dismiss this action. If it continues, take your cat to the vet.


4.     Hissing

Cats do hiss to express anger, but they also hiss in fear in certain situations. While hissing may mean that your cat wants you to back off, it can also mean that your cat is afraid of something. Furthermore, cats may hiss when they feel threatened, particularly by a new animal in the house. It is important to let your cat calm down in these situations and show her that everything is all right.

5.     Twitching Ears

As a cat owner, you should pay attention to the small details and movements that your cat does. Like hissing, twitching ears can be a sign of agitation or anxiety in cats. The twitching is meant to show whoever is irritating the cat to back off. If the person or animal does not back off, cats may escalate by either running away, or hissing and swatting.

6.     Baby Talk

Cats are more intelligent than we give them credit for. Like human children, they learn to communicate through listening and imitating. Because many humans speak to their cats in baby talk, cats will sometimes imitate these baby-like sounds in order to communicate back. So if your cat is meowing like a baby, she may simply be trying to reciprocate your conversation.


7.     Laying on Your Things

Have you ever been trying to work, only to find a cat laying on top of your keyboard? Cats often lay on keyboards, books or newspapers while they are being used by owners. This is a sign that your cat wants to be near you, receive attention, and feel secure. If you’re doing something that makes you relax, being near you will make your cat relax as well.

8.     Kneading Paws

Cats actually knead their paws when they are happy and content. Though this can be uncomfortable if your cat is doing it on your chest, it is actually a sign of comfort. The act of kneading paws with claws out in the same spot repeatedly is referred to as milk-treading. Mother cats teach this to their kittens while they are nursing. 

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