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Wings of Rescue fly 50 small dogs to Boise, Idaho to be put up for adoption

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Now 50 dogs at Sacramento’s crowded Front Street Animal shelter will have better lives and won't be exterminated because of lack of space, resources, or staff. The small-sized dogs were put in crates Monday, December 9, 2013 and flown to the Idaho Humane Society in Boise, Idaho, where they will be put up for adoption. See, "Sacramento shelter dogs board plane for new homes."

Sacramento's city shelter is overloaded with healthy dogs, and no longer puts animals to death because of a lack of space or time to care for them, according to the December 9, 2013 Sacramento Bee article, "50 dogs get new chance."

The Front Street facility has begun partnering with other shelters that can accommodate extra animals. If you visit the Front Street animal shelter in Sacramento, you'll find out that this city shelter typically receives 10,000 animals a year. Most dogs once surrendered there are never reclaimed. Some dogs are found on the street and then brought to the shelter. Check out the Los Angeles Times article, "Ticket to ride: Animal rescue organizations partner with Wings of Rescue to fly dogs to new homes."

The big problem is that the majority of the animals don't have a microchip, ID tag or license. At least if owners would microchip their pet, the owner could be contact. Other people give their pets to a shelter when they move or when they feel the pet is too old or the cost of caring for the dog is too high.

Some animals are turned over to an animal shelter because the owner can't afford veterinary care

Like people, pets age and may have more health problems costing more money. Whatever the reason, whether it's health or age-related, pets get surrendered to a shelter. Owners also may turn over a dog to an animal shelter because of the dog's behavior, or the owner hasn't the time or funds to train a dog or have the pet trained. You even have families who give dogs or cats away when they become seniors because of more healthcare expenses for older pets. Or the pet slows down, just like people in advanced age.

With the small dogs that fit into crates, they'll be available for adoption. Many people prefer small dogs, especially those in apartments. The 50 dogs being flown to Idaho in the shelter dogs' airlift are crated and will end up in Boise Idaho, where they'll go to the Humane Society in Boise and be put up for adoption. Thanks to assistance from the nonprofit Wings of Rescue, the dogs will be available to find good homes. In Sacramento the Front Street Animal shelter no longer puts animals to death because of a lack of space or time to care for them. For further information, see the Wings of Rescue website. Or the Wings of Rescue | Facebook site.

Bonding with your dog: Does your dog need a dog friend as well as human friends?

Your dog needs another dog friend in addition to human friends. Natural bonding behavior is not confined to humans: many animals also seem to need relationships with others of their kind. A dog and his or her handler is similar to a parent-child relationship. Just like a child needs a friend other than parents, so your dog also needs a dog friend.

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine - Vienna, (Vetmeduni Vienna) have investigated the bond between dogs and their owners and have found striking similarities to the parent-child relationship in humans. Their findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE. You also can read the original scientific article online. Besides dogs needing to socialize with other dogs and humans, dogs also need a dog best friend.

Man’s best friend, the dog, needs animal friends, too

People have an innate need to establish close relationships with other people. But this natural bonding behavior is not confined to humans. Many animals also seem to need relationships with others of their kind, scientists explain in a June 21, 2013 news release, "Man's best friend."

For domesticated animals the situation is even more complex and pets may enter deep relationships not only with conspecifics but also with their owners. Domestic dogs have been closely associated with humans for about 15,000 years. The animals are so well adapted to living with human beings that in many cases the owner replaces conspecifics and assumes the role of the dog’s main social partner. The relationship between pet owners and dogs turns out to be highly similar to the deep connection between young children and their parents.

The importance of the owner to the dog

One aspect of the bond between humans and dogs is the so-called "secure base effect”. This effect is also found in parent-child bonding. Human infants use their caregivers as a secure base when it comes to interacting with the environment, according to the June 21, 2013 news release, "Man's best friend."

Until recently the “secure base effect” had not been well examined in dogs. Lisa Horn from the Vetmeduni’s Messerli Research Institute therefore decided to take a closer look at the behavior of dogs and their owners. She examined the dogs’ reactions under three different conditions: “absent owner”, “silent owner” and “encouraging owner."

The dogs could earn a food reward, by manipulating interactive dog toys. Surprisingly, they seemed much less keen on working for food, when their caregivers were not there than when they were. Whether an owner additionally encouraged the dog during the task or remained silent, had little influence on the animal’s level of motivation.

When the owner is replaced by a stranger

In a follow-up experiment, Horn and her colleagues replaced the owner with an unfamiliar person. The scientists observed that dogs hardly interacted with the strangers and were not much more interested in trying to get the food reward than when this person was not there.

The dogs were much more motivated only when their owner was present. The researchers concluded that the owner’s presence is important for the animal to behave in a confident manner.

Why do adult dogs behave like human children?

The study provides the first evidence for the similarity between the “secure base effect” found in dog-owner and child-caregiver relationships. This striking parallel will be further investigated in direct comparative studies on dogs and children. As Horn says in the June 21, 2013 news release, Man's best friend, “One of the things that really surprised us is, that adult dogs behave towards their caregivers like human children do. It will be really interesting to try to find out how this behaviour evolved in the dogs with direct comparisons."

Check out the original study, "The importance of the Secure Base Effect for Domestic Dogs – Evidence from a Manipulative Problem-Solving Task." The study by authors Lisa Horn, Ludwig Huber and Friederike Range is published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

The research was supported by grants from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna and the Austrian Science Fund. The dogs were recruited both at the Clever Dog Lab of the Messerli Research Institute and at the Family Dog Research Program at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary.

You know you have bonded with your dog when the canine's bacteria is on your skin

Individuals harbor quite different bacteria on their skin. When it comes to being a dog person, you can prove it by looking at the dog bacteria on human skin which appears on people who are close to dogs, notes an April 18, 2013 NPR news article, "Bacteria On Dog Lovers' Skin Reveal Their Affection.

Humans who share their homes with canines also share the similar bacterial house guests on their skin, say ecologists Tuesday in the journal eLIFE. Check out the original research, "Cohabiting family members share microbiota with one another and with their dogs."

The study explains that "two dog owners who don't even know each other have about as many of the skin bacteria in common as a married couple living together," according to the news article. Do the bacteria from dogs ever get washed off with each shower, only to be put back when the dog comes over to be touched by the human or the dog bowl is touched with each pet feeding? And how long does the dog bacteria remain after the household has no more pets?

Scientists concluded that it may be easier to exchange skin microbes via exposure to home surfaces or indoor air (both of which are typically dominated by skin-associated microbes; Fierer et al., 2010), than it is to exchange gut or mouth bacteria, potentially because skin surfaces may be less ‘selective’ environments compared to the gut or mouth environments.

The dog bacteria that clings to human skin comes from the paws and tongue of the dog. But there wasn't an analogous germ signature for cat owners, the scientists say. But the bacteria on human skin doesn't stop at dogs, the news article explains. The human skin also harbors unknown bacteria. Check out the February 5, 2007 news release, "Human skin harbors completely unknown bacteria."

A 2007 study found that human skin has many more types of bacteria than previously thought

It appears that the skin, the largest organ in our body, is a kind of zoo and some of the inhabitants are quite novel, according to a new study. Researchers found evidence for 182 species of bacteria in skin samples. Eight percent were unknown species that had never before been described.

It is the first study to identify the composition of bacterial populations on the skin using a powerful molecular method. Not only were the bacteria more diverse than previously estimated, but some of them had not been found before, says Martin J. Blaser, M.D., Frederick King Professor and Chair of the Department of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology at NYU School of Medicine, one of the authors of the study. See, NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine.

Virtual zoo of bacteria on the skin

"The skin is home to a virtual zoo of bacteria," he says in the news release. This study was published February 5, 2007, in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. See, "Human skin harbors completely unknown bacteria - Arrow Scientific."

The researchers analyzed the bacteria on the forearms of six healthy subjects; three men and three women. "This is essentially the first molecular study of the skin," says Dr. Blaser in the news release. The skin has been, he says, terra incognita, an unknown world that he and his colleagues have set out to understand much like explorers.

"There are probably fewer than ten labs in the U.S. looking at this question," says Dr. Blaser in the news release. "It is very intensive work," he adds. Zhan Gao, M.D., senior research scientist in Dr. Blaser's lab, led the research, which took more than three years to complete.

Some of the bacteria on the skin appear to be more or less permanent residents; others are transient, according to the study

This research is part of an emerging effort to study human microbial ecology. Dr. Blaser's laboratory has previously examined the bacterial population in the stomach and the esophagus. "Many of the bacteria of the human body are still unknown," he says. "We all live with bacteria all our lives and occasionally we smile, so they're not that bad for us."

The most numerous cells in our body are microbial—they outnumber our cells 10 to 1. The body has microbes native to the body, including the skin, and these populations change according to how we live, he says. "Ultimately what we want to do is compare disease and health," says Dr. Blaser. Keeping bacterial populations in our body stable may be part of staying healthy, he explains in the news release.

In the new study, the researchers took swabs from the inner right and left forearms of six individuals picking the region halfway between the wrist and the elbow for its convenience. "It's not where they wash their hands," explains Dr. Blaser. "And they don't have to undress." The researchers wanted to be able to compare two similar parts of the body. Because they also wanted to study change over time, they took swabs from four of the individuals 8 to10 months after the first test.

Roughly half, or 54.4%, of the bacteria identified in the samples represented the genera Propionibacteria, Corynebacteria, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus, which have long been considered more or less permanent residents in human skin.

The six individuals differed markedly in the overall composition of the bacterial populations on their skin. They only had four species of bacteria in common: Propionibacterium acnes, Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum, Streptococcus mitis, and Finegoldia AB109769. "This is a surprise," says Dr. Gao. "But many things affecting the skin affect bacteria, such as the weather, exposure to light, and cosmetics use."

Almost three-quarters, or 71.4%, of the total number of bacterial species were unique to individual subjects, suggesting that the skin surface is highly diversified in terms of the bacteria it harbors, according to the study.

Women and men may harbor different types of bacteria on their skin

Three bacterial species were only found in the male subjects: Propionibacterium granulosum, Corynebacterium singulare, and Corynebacterium appendixes. While the sample is too small to draw conclusions, the scientists believe that women and men may harbor some different bacterial species on their skin.

In each individual, the bacterial populations varied over time while revealing a core set of bacteria for each individual. "The predominant bacteria don't change much," says Dr. Gao. "But the more transient bacteria did change over time," she says in the news release.

"What that suggests," adds Dr. Blaser, "is that there is a scaffold of bacteria present in everybody's skin. Some stay and others come and go."

Finding the method

To obtain a sample Dr. Gao rubbed a swab on each individual's forearms. "We didn't tell them to be particularly clean, we just made sure they didn't take antibiotics up to one month prior to the test," Dr. Gao explains. She chose three men and three women to have a balance of genders. She set up a clean room so the samples didn't risk contamination.

Traditionally, bacteria are cultured in the lab in petri dishes, which contain a medium to grow bacteria. But the method leads to inaccuracies, she explains, because only a fraction of bacteria in a sample grow in that medium. So the team used a powerful molecular method that involved extracting a subunit of genetic material called 16S ribosomal DNA from the samples. "It is kind of a common currency, it's a conserved gene," says Dr. Blaser. Another advantage is that there is a large database of 16S ribosomal DNA available to scientists.

The ambitious task for this study was to gather samples, prepare them, amplify the bacteria creating colonies of each single species of bacteria present in the skin samples. Then Dr. Gao used established tools—primers—to pick out the species-specific genetic regions in the bacteria. After sequencing those regions, the 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) in each colony, she consulted 16S rDNA databases to determine the bacterial species present in each sample. Many bacteria in the database only exist as sequences and have nether been named or extensively studied. Those are termed SLOTUs, or species-level taxonomic units.

Taxonomy and the study results

To distinguish organisms from one another, biologists group and categorize them. Species or SLOTUs are small categories. There are larger groupings such as genera and phyla. Humans, for example, belong to the phylum chordata, the genus Homo and the species Homo sapiens.

The molecular method used in this study revealed differences between the bacterial populations in individuals. Other methods had previously not shown those differences.

The team found a total of 182 species or SLOTUs and 91 genera of bacteria in the skin samples

The samples yielded mainly three phyla of bacteria: Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria. Ninety-four point six percent of the bacteria were in these phyla. These phyla were found in all six tested individuals. When compared with earlier studies, the researchers found that these three phyla are also dominant in the esophagus and the stomach. In terms of bacterial species, however, the insides of the body, for example the stomach, and the exterior of the body, the skin, show vast differences in bacterial populations.

Skin condition can change markedly due to a variety of factors such as climate, diet, personal hygiene, and disease. But skin is never devoid of bacteria, particularly its more permanent residents. That is not bad news, after all, in healthy individuals these bacteria are not pathogens. "Without good bacteria, the body could not survive," says Dr. Gao.

The next step for the research team is to look at diseased skin

"We plan to ask the question: Are the microbes in diseased skin, in certain diseases like psoriasis or eczema, different than the microbes in normal skin?" says Dr. Blaser in the news release. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the study along with a Senior Scholar Award from the Ellison Medical Foundation, and also funding by the Diane Belfer Program in Human Microbial Ecology in Health. The authors of the study are Zhan Gao, M.D, Chi-hong Tseng, Ph.D., Zhiheng Pei, M.D., Ph.D, and Martin J. Blaser, M.D.

Interestingly, in the other study of dog bacteria on human skin, the various types of research on bacteria on human skin points to whether a dog person is really a dog person because the individual loves dogs or because the person touched the dog's bowl, chew toy, or bedding. The exchange of bacteria wouldn't reveal the emotions a person had toward the dog's care and wellbeing. But it might show if someone visited a home and breathed the air or touched the furniture where there lives a dog.

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