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February 2011

January 2011

Spartanburg, SC Dog Knows 1,022 Nouns

Chaser A female border collie named Chaser, owned by Dr. John W. Pilley of Spartanburg, SC, has the largest vocabulary of any known dog -- 1,022 nouns -- according to The New York Times

 Dr. Pilley, a retired psychologist who taught at Wofford College, acquired Chaser in 2004 as a puppy. For four or five hours per day, he showed her an object, said its name up to 40 times, then hid the object and asked Chaser to find it. Chaser learned one or two new items a day and loved every minute of it. "She still demands four to five hours a day," Dr. Pilley told the Times. "I'm 82 and I have to go to bed to get away from her."

The vocabulary relates to physical objects, each of which is given a name the dog can recognize. Dr. Pilley had to buy hundreds of items, writing the name on each item with a permanent marker. Technically, the 1,022 words Chaser knows are all proper nouns. But she also recognizes phrases and can distinguish between "Fetch a Frisbee" or "Fetch a ball." Dr. Pilley even got Chaser to distinguish between three specific actions -- "pawing," "nosing" or "fetching" each object.

Dr. Pilley suspects Chaser could have learned more words, but he grew tired of teaching her when she reached 1,000 items. Now, he says, he is trying to teach Chaser some elementary grammar. "We are interested in teaching Chaser a receptive, rudimentary language," Dr. Pilley said, with the goal of developing methods that will help increase communication between people and dogs.

Chaser will be featured in a Nova episode on animal intelligence which airs on PBS on February 9. For more about Chaser, read the entire New York Times article here.

Photo: Cass Sapir/Nova Science Now

ReTail Scene: MoonDoggies Natural Pet Foods

Moondoggies-store MoonDoggies is a family-owned natural pet food store located at 1263 Smokey Park Highway in Candler, NC.

Owner Linda Gavel says on the store's website, "When you walk into the store you will immediately feel right at home. We take pride in our business and offer a full line of holistic and organic pet foods, as well as an organic doggy bakery. We also have holistic supplements, Chinese herb blends, and natural remedies to keep your pet healthy and happy. Local products are our first choice and we have many to choose from ranging from raw meat diets to leashes made from recycled mountain climbing ropes.

"One thing you can expect when you come to Moondoggies is personal service that ensures your pet is getting the best products and natural pet foods made especially for them. We look forward to the opportunity of serving you locally and as we expand our website presence we will be adding new products for your online shopping convenience."

MoonDoggies also features online shopping. For more information, check out the MoonDoggies website:

"Fosterpalooza" - Learn About Fostering, Jan. 29, Asheville

Fosterpalooza If you'd like to help homeless animals but you're not ready to add another dog to the household, why not consider fostering? By fostering puppies, kittens, dogs or cats, you help give them a break from shelter life, provide them with much-needed socialization, and help them recover from illness. Bottom line: You become a LifeSaver!

Asheville Humane Society is holding a special family-friendly day, "Fosterpalooza," for Asheville area resident to learn more about fostering, on Saturday, Jan. 29 from 12 to 3 PM. Families interested in fostering will get hear from foster parents about the joys of fostering, be able to ask questions, and get to interact with some special foster animals. It's also an opportunity to see Asheville Humane Society's new state-of-the-art Adoption & Education Center. If you haven't been there yet, you're sure to be impressed.

Refreshments will be served, children's activities will be available, and the event is free to the public. For more information, including directions to the Adoption & Education Center, which is conveniently located near the Farmers Market, visit the organization's website: .

Do Dogs Have a Sixth Sense?

Dogface-closeup Dogs are often thought by their owners to have ESP, or a sixth sense. At the very least, some dogs do seem to be sensitive to changes in the weather and can even "predict" a thunderstorm by exhibiting unusual behavior. Dogs and other animals have been known to react right before an earthquake occurs. Even more remarkable, perhaps, are the dogs that can predict when their human owners are about to have a seizure.

Well it turns out that a considerable number of people believe pets have a sixth sense. A new poll indicates that 47 percent of U.S. dog owners believe their dogs have a sixth sense. In addition, 72 percent of dog owners think their pets can predict an approaching storm.

Arthur Benjamin, president of American Dog Rescue, is absolutely convinced that his poodle Buddy can predict seizures, according to Benjamin says before his wife Gail had a seizure, "Buddy would make these jerking movements -- like he was having a fit -- and we realized he could sense the seizures coming on."

Animal experts believe that animals can be sensitive to things humans cannot feel, see, or hear. They cite the fact that storms cause a static, electric charge in the air that pets may be able to sense.

For more about the study, click here. What do you think? Does your dog have a sixth sense? Share your comments below!

ReTail Scene: Cool Dog Tags on Sale

Dogtagartwintersale We've periodically mentioned one of our online retail partners, Dog Tag Art, a company located in Asheville, NC. Dog Tag Art makes the coolest dog tags we've ever seen. They come in hundreds of styles created by artists and are virtually indestructible.

Right now, you can take advantage of a special Winter Sale: Buy 1 tag, and get 1 at 25% off the regular price. This is a great time to get a new tag for any of your four-legged friends -- or your friends' four legged-friends!

Dog Tag Art also has a unique program to keep your pet safe called "Virtual Leash." You can learn more about it at their website.

Visit Dog Tag Art and use the code WINTER10 when you check out to take advantage of this special offer.

Think Your Dog Can Do Tricks?!

If you think your dog can do tricks, then check out this video of Jesse doing "useful dog tricks." It has been viewed over 6 million times on YouTube and you'll see why. This dog has boundless energy and can do, well, just about everything.

In fact, if you had a dog like Jesse around, you'd barely have to do anything yourself! Take a look...  

Restaurants and Your Dog

Dining dog A surprising number of dog lovers would like to take their dogs with them to restaurants. This is not an impossible dream. While it is rare (and sometimes illegal) for restaurants to permit dogs inside the premises, restaurants with outdoor dining facilities are often accommodating to dog owners, as long as local ordinances do not prohibit dogs from being in restaurants.

Happily, many restaurants in the Carolina mountains welcome dogs in outdoor seating areas as long as they are well-behaved. Some restaurants may restrict the offer to small dogs only, however. Asheville and Greenville are particuarly dog friendly. Of course, it always pays to call a restaurant in advance to inquire about their dog policy.

If you're traveling with your pet in Arizona, California, Florida or New York, or in the Chicago area, check out the "Dining with Dogs" website, The site lists dog-friendly restaurants (including reviews) in these areas. Who knows, as the site expands, restaurants in the Carolina mountains might someday be listed. (Offer to post reviews of local restaurants and it could happen sooner than you think!)

Photo credit:


ReTail Scene: "Fur-Ever Home," The Animal Rescue Game

Fur-Ever Home Looking for something different as a birthday gift for the kids? How about a board game to help educate them about animal rescue, the first of its kind.

By playing "Fur-Ever Home," you work together to get all the animals off the streets of "Straytown," creating a rescue organization that needs to raise money, pay bills, spay/neuter, and do a lot of other things that real rescue organizations have to deal with. You "win" the game when Straytown's streets are free of homeless animals and each one has been taken in by a shelter or adopted.

You can purchase Fur-Ever Home directly from the maker at: Designate Asheville Humane Society and a $5 donation will be made with your purchase.

Interested in Dog Breeds?

Dogbreedselector While many dog owners are partial to just plain mutts (or to put it more politely, "mixed breeds"), there are hundreds of dog breeds, each with unique characteristics. It's helpful to know about these characteristics if you're thinking of adding a dog to your family that is a specific breed. Sometimes, knowing about a breed can even be beneficial if you have a mixed breed, because your dog may exhibit the characteristics of its dominant breed.

A good source of information on breeds is Animal Planet's online "Dog Breed Selector." This tool guides you through an interactive process to help you select an appropriate breed, or you can pick a breed from the list and view information about its history, temperament, charactertistics, upkeep, and more.

Check it out at:

Time to Get Fit? Get Your Dog to Help

Woofreport masthead Traditionally, the beginning of a new year is when a lot of people think about fitness and diet. Those of us who own dogs (especially energetic ones) know that, when it comes to exercise and a healthy lifestyle, a dog can be a great motivator.

Woof Report, an online publication for dog owners, recently ran a great story entitled "How to Get Fit with Your Dog's Help." The article discussed the benefits of exercising with your dog, offered tips for specific exercises, and included information about articles, books, and fitness gear.

You can find the complete article by clicking here. Also consider signing up for the Woof Report's free newsletter, join the Woof Report community at:

This Police Dog is a Chihuahua!

Reuters reports that a 6-1/2 pound long-haired Chihuahua passed the police dog exam at the end of last year Peach-chihuahuato become the first Chihuahua police dog in Japan, and perhaps the world.

"Momo" (Japanese for peach) passed a search and rescue test; she found a person in five minutes after sniffing an article of clothing.

A police spokesman in the western Japanese perfecture of Nara, where Momo will serve, said "Any breed of dog can be entered to become a police dog in the search and rescue dvision."

Momo is likely to be used primarily for rescue operations that take place during earthquakes and other natural disasters, because she may be able to squeeze into narrow places that are too small for larger rescue dogs.

We think that's just peachy!

Duke University Studies How Dogs Think

Researchers at Duke University have established the Canine Cognition Center to study how dogs think. Professor Brian Hare, the research laboratory's director, tells CNN, "We're excited about describing the psychology of our dogs. Different dogs solve different problems differently. And what we want to understand is: What is it that either makes dogs remarkable as a species or what is it that constrains the ability of dogs to solve problems?"

The ability of dogs is tested at the lab via games. The lab also studies dogs' behavior and tries to understand their limitations. Researchers believe that knowing why dogs make mistakes can help them become even better at serving humans' needs.

Professor Hare has studied dogs for fifteen years, and he believes dogs are better than any other species at figuring out how to read human behavior. He says dogs think "people are super-important and they can solve almost any problem if they rely on people... They really narrow in and pay attention to you and they want to know what it is about the world that you can help them with."

Professor Hare also says that a dog, like a child, know that when you turn your back, he can sometimes get away with something. In fact, a dog is skilled enough to manipulate his owner. According to the professor, although a dog owner likes to think she's in charge, it may actually be the dog who runs the show!

Image Source:Radiology Technician

Custom Pet Portraits

Alyssawood Alyssa Wood has a veterinary degree, a love of animals, and a lot of artistic talent. She lives in Burlington, Vermont, but creates custom pet portraits from photos and is happy to ship them anywhere.

Alyssa can create a custom pet portrait from a high quality photo you provide within two weeks, using oil paint or oil pastel. Prices start at $175. She did oil paintings of our three dogs and every one captured their personalities and distinct qualities.

For more information, contact Alyssa at, or call (315) 383-1520