Monday, June 23, 2014


I don't often post on hot-button issues but this one was too good to pass up. While the canine-feline debate has raged for ages, as reported in the Huffington Post,  the latest scientific (as in trained experts with proven methods) findings suggests that we dogs have the edge when it comes to smarts. How can that be, when those clever kitty killing machines manage to manipulate their human companions seemingly at will? Turns out that social animals, like elephants, dolphins, monkeys and, yes, dogs, develop larger brains to better foster cooperation with each other and, in the case of dogs, their human pals. If you're a cat lover don't despair, there's some good news, too. According to Joanna Liebmann-Smith, PhD, "Dogs usually do outperform cats on most animal IQ tests and have larger vocabularies and bigger brains, but...Cats have almost twice as many neurons in their cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is considered the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory, among other things. Cats have 300 million neurons, while dogs have only 160 million, which means that cats have a greater capacity for information processing than dogs."
Tanner (right)   and his Mensa friend, Porter Massa
And before Lou and Eugenie start gloating, recent studies suggest that 'Cat People' (loved the flick with Natasha Kinski, and the Bowie tune) are smarter than dog lovers. An article from 
LiveScience by Rachel Rettner offered this comparison: "People who said they were dog lovers in the study tended to be more lively — meaning they were more energetic and outgoing — and also tended to follow rules closely. Cat lovers, on the other hand, were more introverted, more open-minded and more sensitive than dog lovers. Cat people also tended to be non-conformists, preferring to be expedient rather than follow the rules." Now that I have both sides riled (a trick I learned from Lou), let me suggest a compromise by paraphrasing Crosby, Still & Nash: If you can't be with the pet species you love, love the one you're with!"
Porter with his very smart and outgoing mom, Robby

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


For the past two weeks Lou has been too busy with his Probation kids to post my observations. I heard him telling 'mom' (Eugenie) that he had them working on topics as diverse as personal investing, dharma in prison and Kohlberg's 6 Levels of Moral Development. Phew! Now that he's finally taking a breather, I wanted to pass along some very heartening news about canines helping humans the way I helped him. Ruth Levine, President and Founder of Karma Rescue, recently shared the following: 

"The Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) approached Karma Rescue with a unique opportunity: could we help them develop a training program inside one of our state prisons that would pair inmates with rescued shelter dogs? While similar programs have been instituted across the nation, Paws For Life is California's first and only program in a high-security prison involving inmates serving life-term sentences. 

Paws For Life brings rescued shelter dogs to live full-time with inmates at the Los Angeles County CDCR. Over a twelve-week cycle, inmates will learn from Karma trainers how to train our rescue dogs for 'Canine Good Citizen' certification. Once a dog earns this designation, the chance for successful adoption increases -- as does our ability to rescue another shelter animal in its place. The inmates also benefit: beyond the rehabilitative therapy of a dog's presence, they are learning "real world" skills and connecting to a larger a humanitarian process outside of the prison walls. This program gives them a way to contribute back to society by helping a dog get a second chance at life. On June 1, we brought five shelter dogs to the prison. Men who had not seen an animal in decades were openly emotional at the sight of the beautiful creatures before them. Just petting our dogs brought many to happy tears. It was a day I will never, ever forget."

If you'd like to support the project, you can donate on the Karma website.

To follow up on our last post about whether dogs grieve like their human companions, Cesar Millan tackles the subject in his latest newsletter. According to the dog guru, they miss their deceased pack buddies like people miss their dearly departed pals and family. Thankfully, the majority of grieving pups eventually return to their former, joyful selves.
Tanner mourning his eviscerated 'babies'