Monday, December 10, 2012

Even Fruit Flies like to be Cuddled

Researchers found nerves tuned to gentle touch, by stroking drosophila larva with a "freshly plucked eyelash".  A lesson in the universally of some experiences.  But I do wonder where they got all the necessary eye-lashes for the research? 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The case for the prosecution...

Exhibit A) the carpet and rug:

Exhibit B) the sofa:

Exhibit C) this paint-covered paw that Avon denies any knowledge of:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Good for whose welfare?

Dr Spot gearing up for Halloween, 26 gallon tank.
On one hand I like a study* that shows that keeping goldfish can be good for your health.

On the other hand basing it on people keeping two goldfish in 2.5 gallon tank is ridiculous.

Goldfish are a type of carp (which is not a small fish). A tank that small basically communicates an intent to kill them young.

And given the lack of cycling of the tank, the size and the stocking density, I would be astounded if all the residents ended the study with the same fish they started out with (this data was not reported in the results).

*Riddick CC (1985) Health, aquariums and the non-institutionalized elderly. Special issue: Pets and the family. Marriage Fam Rev. 8:163–173.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A word from Avon

Uploading Papers to Researchgate

 Researchgate encourages you to upload pdfs of your papers to their site. But I would sound a note of caution--just because they invite you to do it, does not mean it is legal.  I have been coming across embargoed, preprint and other papers on Researchgate via Google Scholar search.

Many of these papers are most likely still behind the pay wall of the journals they are published in.  As such, the authors should not be making them freely available over the internet! Check before you upload or you may be burning some bridges at those journals.

Dissociation and Animal Attachment

It is a fairly common finding that people dissociative traits or conditions are more attached to pets.  Dissociation is a continuum associated with feeling detached from reality or even your own identity.  In milder forms it is a personality type and in more severe cases it can cause disruption and distress.  But why would being detached from reality make you more attached to pets?

One suggestion is that dissociation tends to develop when growing up around unreliable adults who are not safe attachment figures.  The animals act as some kind of substitute and so friendships with animals will tend to remain important throughout life.

Another is that dissociative personality tend to me more prone to fantasy or vivid imaginations which create a more elaborate connection to animals or even objects (like stuffed toys) than might otherwise exist.

  • Barlow MR, Cromer LD, Cron HP, Freyd JJ. Comparison of normative and diagnosed dissociation on attachment to companion animal and stuffed animals. Psychological Trauma Theory Practice and Policy 2012, 4, 501-506.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I am really curious about what one of my neighbors has apparently lost.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

The "Value" of a PhD

According to US Census data the average income of a female with a PhD is $53,003, and the average income of a male with a PhD is $73,853.  I wonder if anyone has done a full analysis as to just what the hell is going on there?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Meeting Announcement

The IAHAIO International Conference will be held on 20 July 2013 (A.G.M., Reception and Poster session), and on 21 and 22 July 2013 in collaboration with the American Veterinary Association (AVMA convention 20-23 July, 2013 Chicago, USA). More information is available here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rat Cage Design

I came across my design for a small rat cage that promotes more natural behavior. I have a photograph of the prototype somewhere.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

It Came From Ebay: Baby Head

Okay, I admit it.  I have a slight Ebay/impulse control issue.  As witness this:

I am guessing this is an amateur artwork?  But if anyone has some other ideas I would love to here them.  It is about 6 inches high, made from clay of some kind, hollow and shows every sign of being handmade.  It is marked "Balliet" (possibly "Balliot"?) 91.

[On Pinterest]

Friday, April 27, 2012

Breeds and Deeds

A recent report on Dog Breeds that Don’t Mix Well with Kids (now taken down) has once again raised the issue of safe versus dangerous breeds again. When it comes to making any judgment about animals it is wise to refer to reliable data, as myths and misinformation abound.

Children are the most common victim of serious dog bites, and parents should certainly be careful in their selection, management and supervision of a pet dog. However breed is typically not the most important consideration.

Young children should be supervised around dogs and taught appropriate behaviour. Dogs should be socialized and trained. And children should be kept separate from dogs that are aggressive or may bite for any reason, or are large and boisterous.

Studies suggest a range of breeds that may represent a somewhat elevated risk of bite injury. However this is often caused indirectly by ownership styles associated with that breed, local genetics, and prevalence of the breed in an area. When appropriate experimental controls are employed the role of breed is not primary and the breeds identified as higher risk vary by place and time.

And you may be surprised to find that most of the breeds identified by these studies are not the ‘usual suspects’.

For more information see: 
• Berzon DR. The animal bite epidemic in Baltimore, Maryland: review and update. Am I Public Health. 1978;68:593-595.
• Castelein C, Klouda J, Hirsch H. The bite case scenario—it is not what you think. In: WFHS newsletter. Madison, Wis: Wisconsin Humane Society, 1996;Sep:12–14. Cited in: Overall KL, Love M. Dog bites to humans: demography, epidemiology, injury, and risk. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:1923-1934.
• Gershman KA, Sacks JJ, Wright JC. Which dogs bite: a case-control study of risk factors. Pediatrics 1994;93:913-917.
• Greenhalgh C, Cockington R, Raftos I. An epidemiological survey of dog bites presenting to the emergency department of a children's hospital . J Paediatr Child Health 1991; 27: 171-174.
• Guy, N, Canine household aggression in the caseload of general veterinary practitioners in Maritime Canada, Master of Science thesis, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, 1999
• Hanna, TL, Selby LA. Characteristics of the human and pet populations in animal bite incidents recorded at two Air Force bases. Public Health Rep. 1981;96:580-584.
• Lauer EA, White WC, Lauer BA. Dog bites: a neglected problem in accident prevention. AJDC. 1982;136:202-204.
• Szpakowski NM, Bonnett BN, Martin SW. An epidemiological investigation into the reported incidents of dog biting in the Cityof Guelph. Can Vet J 1989;30:937–942.
• Thompson PG. The public health impact of dog attacks in a major Australian city. Med J Aust 1997;167:129¬-32.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Welcome, Zippy

Here is my new Ezip 500 electric scooter shortly after it arrived. I managed to assemble ans charged it.  I also managed to get home on it in one piece, although the handlebar was too low and I can't work out how to get it off "full" setting, to the milder sounding "half" or "low".

I won't get too adventurous until my helmet and bike lock arrive.

Other Stuff:
  • My overly materialist HAVE Pinterest board, featuring Zippy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Update on the Oxford Handbook of Violence

It looks like the The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Violence, Homicide, and War will be published in June of this year.

This includes the chapter Animal Abuse and Cruelty by yours truly and Heather Piper

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gotta love this review

...of an owl decoy meant to scare away squirrels and such:

"Just to show you how bad this product is- there is now a birds nest with babies, LIVING inside of the owl. A bird found its way into the owl and built a nest and has laid eggs and is now starting a family. What a terrifying owl"