Two things people always say when a pet dies at home and other DeathLord lessons

Life is weird in lots of way. Things happen for a reason, and you have to kind of be open to what life’s going to throw at you because you certainly aren’t going to expect most of it. Even the good stuff. Especially the good stuff, which is often hidden in bad stuff.

When I go to a house for a euthanasia, people invariably say one of two things:

1. This must be so hard.

2. I wish we had this for people.

The answer to both is “I agree.” The interesting part is that they co-exist.

Lots of things we deal with in life are rotten: losing an eyeball, I imagine, would be hard. Crawling through the Amazonian rainforest naked and afraid with no water. Chaperoning a group of fifth graders on an overnight field trip on a boat you can’t escape from. All of them hard, and none of them leading me to say, “gee, I wish I could replicate this experience for my family and loved ones.”

Death is hard. It can also, in certain circumstances, be good. Not always. Sometimes deaths are horrible and tragic and cruel, and when we see that we fear it, and forget that many times it can also be meaningful and loving and bittersweet. We need to cherish those experiences to give us the strength for the times it is not. We need to learn that we can talk about it and lean on each other and be there, really be there, in every way we can.

This is what I do as a hospice vet, and while it is very true that this is in my opinion the best way for a pet to experience death, I have found the ones who benefit the most from the experience are the people, not only for their pet but for their whole idea of what death is about.

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Pets don’t know what death is or that it is coming. The fear they exhibit in the clinic euthanasia appointment is fear of the clinic thermometer, because when I go into a home to euthanize a pet I cannot tell you how many very ill pets look up, give me a wag and a lick, and in essence signal to their families that they are ready. It’s quite stunning to see.

When I submitted a talk for Ignite San Diego titled “I’m the Angel of Death, Now Gimme Your Kids” I think I freaked out a good 95% of the attending audience who had no idea who I was or why I wanted to steal their dumplings. By the end, though, I think they all realized that no, really- it’s a good thing to learn to move forward without fear. Pets teach us so much, from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave us. Yes, even then, if we are open to seeing it.

If you want to hear me sum it up in 5 minutes on the nose, here’s the link:

Pawcurious: With Veterinarian and Author Dr. V

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Just Try to Skip This Geico Ad Starring a Dog Eating Spaghetti

Geico has done the impossible: It’s gotten us to watch one of those Internet “pre-roll” ads, typically shown before videos, that you can skip after a few seconds. We watched it not only once, but twice. Three times. Eight times. Fifteen times? Hell, sure, let’s watch it again: 

Amazing, huh? The way the the dog suddenly seems to realize, “Oh, we’re really doing this? I’ve got carte blanche to go Dyson all over your dinner, and you’re just going to sit there, frozen, like frozen people or whatever? Great. Action. I love it.”

Don’t you love the way he begins by making a very through and tidy job of it, and then he steps in the salad and knocks it over? And how he does not care a whit that he steps in the salad and knocks it over because he has Johnny’s spaghetti to eat? And how he then steps in the milk — are you kidding us with that? What dog steps in milk? And how at the end of it, he’s looking around for more food and then he realizes, My God, I’ve still got a serving bowl of spaghetti left? 

Watch it again:

The ad, to our great satisfaction, is making a buzz in the advertising world. 

“We call these unskippable,” Joe Alexander, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency, who created the ad, told USA Today. “Our goal is to bring attention to Geico in a space that is often hated.” 

“It’s like watching a slow-motion accident,” he said, referring to the can’t-stop-watching aspect of the ad. “We’re trying to extend the action.”

David Schwab, a senior vice president at entertainment-marketing firm Octagon, concurs: “Human nature makes you keep watching the ad to see if this going to be a train wreck,” he told USA Today. “This ad makes you stick around.”

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As for how they pulled it off, Alexander said that they did nine takes before the actors and the dog -- Bolt -- nailed the beginning of the scene. Then, on the 10th, they let Bolt have his way with everybody's spaghetti, and he did not disappoint.

Go ahead, watch it again: 

 Via USA Today

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Family Day

It was Family Day yesterday so we got up early and went off to the cold frozen beach.  We had a pretty good time.  Lacey especially had a blast running around like crazy!

This is the moment Coulee realized that Lacey had a “better” toy.  The frisbee got left behind after this.

I didn’t even have to say anything other than her name and she glanced around, found the big flat rock and hopped up.  :)

This cracked me up.  First of all I have no idea what Coulee is doing back there – I have a feeling the toy just popped out of her mouth.  And Lacey was just being adorable!

Coulee again being a nut.  I was actually trying to photograph Lacey and I saw her do this out of the corner of my eye.  No idea.. it’s not like she’s actually jumping over something.

We play a game at home where we tuck her toy under a foot stool.  Even though the stool is small enough that she can move it or lift it, she uses her feet to try and pull the toy out.  Sometimes she’ll stick the toy under there herself and then try to get it out. This is the first time I’ve ever seen her do it outside though. She laid down next to the rock and started playing with the ball until it rolled under, then she tried to get it out again.  I swear it was deliberate.

Crazy Coulee and Little Lacey

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Study: Your Dog Literally Has No Short-Term Memory

You spend your life loving, laughing, and engaging in wonderful activities with your dog. Too bad your dog doesn’t remember any of it. 

Wait, let us clarify: He remembers it — for about a minute. At two minutes, he’s forgotten it. Unless it’s an event that has to do with food or fear, the memory is gone, zapped, cleared from the doggy record, according to a new study, which seems like an arrow pointed at our heart.  

Thanks, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution at Stockholm University, Sweden.

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Dog playing chess by Shutterstock.

Of course, with studies like this, the important thing to realize is that you can just ignore the results, figuring they'll change in a year or so. Like you did with eggs and meat. But, in the interest of reporting the news, let's have at it:

"A recent investigation of short-term memory suggests animals don't remember specific events much at all," announces National Geographic. "Instead, they store away useful information about what could help them survive."

"Covering 25 species that ranged from dolphins to bees, the study found the average short-term memory span of animals was 27 seconds ..."

Good Lord. How did this animal kingdom ever get off the ground? 

"Dogs forget an event within two minutes," continues the article, cruelly. "Chimpanzees, at around 20 seconds, are worse than rats at remembering things, while the memory spans of three other primates -- baboons, pig-tailed macaques, and squirrel monkeys -- exceeded only bees."

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Wait, sorry, dog EATING chess by Shutterstock.

Humans, on the other hand, remember mundane events like a pro. We're able to ace the memory test they gave animals "effortlessly" up to 48 hours later. 

"The data tell us that animals have no long-term memory of arbitrary events," said ethologist Johan Lind, who headed the team. "We think humans' ability to remember arbitrary events is unique."

About that study: It drew on 100 studies of captive animals who had been given a memory test of recent random events. It's known as the delayed matching-to-sample method (DMTS), in which visual stimulus, like a red circle, is shown to the subject. 

"The red circle disappears, then, after a delay, it's shown again with another sample stimulus -- a blue square, say. The animal, usually with the incentive of a food reward, has to select the original sample it saw."

Of course, you know your dog remembers a whole lot of stuff longer than two minutes. Those memories, claims the study, are associative memories -- a cat associating the cat carrier with the danger going to the vet, for example.  

The study says that animals have "specialized memory systems" hardwired to remember certain "biologically relevant information," according to National Geographic

We're skeptical, of course -- dogs certainly do seem to have memories that aren't entirely related to "biologically relevant information" -- but we'll let this study have its moment in the sun. 

Before we forget it. 

Via National Geographic

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Marley

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DOG SAVES ELDERLY OWNER FROM CARBON MONOXIDE LEAK

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A recent blizzard could have turned even more dangerous for a Massachusetts woman if it hadn’t been for her golden retriever, Reilly.

According to the Patriot Ledger, Nancy Sheerin of Weymouth, Mass. was at home alone with Reilly during a snowstorm.

Sheerin, who is hard of hearing, went to bed after taking out her hearing aids.

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Halo

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