TIME animals

Quiz: Is Your Dog Crazy?

Take this quiz and find out

A dog’s brain and your brain have very similar chemistry and many similar structures. It stands to reason they work in more or less the same way—and break down the same way too. More and more, behavioral veterinarians are diagnosing problems as diverse as depression, anger, dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder in dogs. As with humans, treatment involves behavioral therapy and sometimes even drugs. But first you have to know if a problem exists at all. Here are some of the symptoms veterinarians consider in making a diagnosis.

 

MONEY Pets

How to Turn Your Dog into a Cash Cow

Boo the Pomeranian, named the cutest dog in the world Cutest Dog in the World Flies High
Virginamerica/Rex Features—AP Boo the Pomeranian, named the "cutest dog in the world."

Social media can be big business for pets, too.

Your dog may never make it like the beagle Miss P, winner of the 2015 Westminster Kennel Club’s best in show award, but he or she may still have a shot at becoming a YouTube star or nabbing a modeling contract based on an Instagram photo.

It happened for Tuna, a Chiweenie mix of Chihuahua and dachshund. This unlikely Internet star, found as a stray at a California farmer’s market, has more than a million followers on Instagram because of his cartoonish overbite. A book, The Underdog with the Overbite, goes on sale in two weeks with a list price of $14.95.

At the pinnacle is a dog named Boo, a Pomeranian with 17 million fans on Facebook, multiple books and a line of toys. He even got a deal from Virgin America Inc to be its official “pet liaison.”

To bring in money, you need more than a random clip of your dog doing something funny. It takes an orchestrated campaign to gain enough popularity to merit offers from corporate sponsors, get product placement deals, and move merchandise.

“People who have over half a million followers are getting serious money,” says Katie Sturino, who owns Toast, a King Charles pup with no teeth and a tongue that hangs from her mouth. “The ones who have really broken out are getting a lot.”

Rescued from a puppy mill, Toast has 168,000 followers on Instagram. Sturino says she has been working with companies looking for product placement or endorsements.

Going Viral

What captivates a mass audience and goes viral usually is not a fluke, says Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business and author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. You need a good story to get started, and then you need a savvy strategy.

“We often look at these videos and think they must be luck or by chance,” Berger says. “Can you guarantee that something will go viral and get millions and millions of page views? No, but you can guarantee it will do better.”

Animal advocate and author Wendy Diamond says the biggest influencers are those who have a following and a personality.

“Your dog either has to have a deformity or a disability or a well-connected parent,” Diamond says.

Boo’s connection is clear. His owner, Irene Ahn, is an executive at Facebook Inc, although she has stayed out of the limelight during her dog’s climb.

But there are other routes to the top.

Jon Huang and his girlfriend, Amber Chavez, got Manny, a French bulldog who was the unwanted runt of the litter, at a half-price discount four years ago.

What started as a way to share photos and videos of their puppy with friends and family exploded in the past couple of years to following of about 796,000 on Facebook and 643,000 on Instagram.

“Basically, I just started posting unique pictures,” says Huang, 37.

After photos of Manny sleeping in a sink went viral, the dog’s popularity started to swell. As the monetary potential became clear, Huang says they made charity a big part of the Manny craze. Team Manny has raised more than $100,000 in the past year.

Manny has deals with Evanger’s Dog Food and Zico Coconut Water, among others. With all the merchandising, fundraising, deals, appearances and travels (a 15-city tour that goes from coast-to-coast), Chavez now is working full-time with Manny.

“There would be no way to manage all the stuff without her quitting her job,” says Huang. “We didn’t expect any of this. It happened so fast.”

TIME Pets

Westminster Dog Show Names Best in Show Winner

Miss P, a 15-in. Beagle, won the 'best in show' of the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York on Feb. 17, 2015
Andrew Burton—Getty Images Miss P, a 15-in. Beagle, won the 'best in show' of the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York on Feb. 17, 2015

“There are seven beautiful dogs. It was a tough lineup,” said handler William Alexander

We thought they were all equally adorable – insert awww – but there could only be one top dog at Westminster.

Congrats, Miss P!

The beagle from the hound group ran off with the prestigious Best in Show title Tuesday at the 139th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Miss P (formal name: Ch Tashtins Lookin For Trouble) beat out six other fierce furballs: the Patty Hearst co-owned Rocket (toy group), Flame (non-sporting group), Swagger (herding group), Liz (sporting group), Matisse (working group) and Charlie (terrier group).

Miss P has 19 U.S. best in shows under her belt. As if she could get any more impressive: She’s only the second of her breed to win at Westminster.

“There are seven beautiful dogs. It was a tough lineup,” handler William Alexander said post-win. “I’m speechless.”

It runs in the family, after all, for Miss P, who’s a grandniece to 2008 champ Uno.

Next up? She’s ready to retire and have some pups of her own, said Alexander.

Charlie earned honors for Reserve Best in Show.

More than 2,700 dogs entered the annual show, which came to a close at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

Best in Show of the 139th #Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is Ch Tashtins Lookin For Trouble the Beagle, also known as "Miss P!" #WKCDogShow

A photo posted by Westminster Kennel Club (@westminsterkennelclub) on

This article originally appeared on People.com

MONEY Pets

It’s Not Just Westminster Dog Owners Who Spend Crazy Amounts of Money on Their Pups

An Irish Setter is prepped backstage at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 17, 2015 in New York City.
Spencer Platt—Getty Images An Irish Setter is prepped backstage at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on February 17, 2015 in New York City. The show, which is in its 139th year and is called the second-longest continuously running sporting event in the United States, includes 192 dog breeds and draws nearly 3,000 global competitors. This year's event began on Monday and will conclude with the awarding of 'Best of Show' on Tuesday night.

This year Americans are on track to spend some $60 billion on their animal companions.

More than 3,000 pampered pooches will take over Manhattan (and your television) Tuesday night for the final day of judging at Westminster Kennel Club’s 139th annual all-breed dog show.

While dogs from 192 different breeds and varieties will compete for Best in Show, to be a serious contender a dog needs to have first run a successful campaign—or “an exhausting, time-consuming, and very expensive gantlet of dog show wins, buttressed by ads in publications like Dog News and The Canine Chronicle,” the New York Times reported in 2010.

Yes, ads: Some competitors said they spent as much as $100,000 annually to showcase a dog’s recent victories—and cute face—in the hopes of swaying future judges. Add in the cost for a professional handler, plane tickets, and other expenses for traveling to roughly 150 shows a year, and campaigning for a top dog can easily break into the hundreds of thousands.

Of course, most dogs, even those with $300,000 budgets, rarely win the title after only a single year of competing. Because it takes time to build a dog’s reputation, these campaigns typically last a few years. One handler whose pup won best in show at Westminster in 2006 told the Times that the three-year runup to the victory cost around $700,000.

That kind of travel purse has top Manhattan hotels rolling out the plastic turf, padded armchairs, dog treadmills, and canine treats to attract Westminsterites, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Think that’s over the top? Well, while most of us don’t shell out a small fortune to raise award-winning pets, we still lavish quite a bit on Fido all the same.

In 2013, Americans spent a record $55.7 billion, or about the equivalent of Croatia’s gross domestic product, on puppy chow, cat litter, grooming, toys, vet visits, and all other matter of indulgences, according to the American Pet Products Association. The estimates for 2014 reach even higher: $58.51 billion, keeping pace with the industry’s steady 4% to 6% growth a year since record-keeping started in 1996.

Two decades ago, Americans’ total spending on pets was $31.1 billion, adjusted for inflation. Last year, Americans spent an estimated $22.6 billion just on pet food.

Those figures break down to each U.S. household spending a little more than $500 a year on their pets. That’s more than we spend annually on alcohol ($456) or mens’ clothing ($404) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So clearly, owners of dog show stars aren’t the only ones willing to make sacrifices for their pets.

TIME Pets

An Essential Guide to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

US-WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW
Timothy A. Clary—AFP/Getty Images A Bichon Frise in the judging area at Pier 92 and 94 in New York City on the first day of competition at the 139th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Feb. 16, 2015

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

The Oscars of canine competitions – the Westminster Kennel Club‘s 139th Annual Dog Show – is upon us, and are being held in N.Y.C. Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s the only place all year where all the great dogs are in the same place at the same time,” Westminster Kennel Club spokesman David Frei tells PEOPLE.

This year, 192 different breeds and varieties will be competing for the top title of Best in Show. Says Frei: “We surely have something in there for everyone.”

The longtime co-host of the show breaks down the ins and outs of the pooch pageant for PEOPLE:

What’s New This Year?
Frei admits not much changes year-to-year.

“We judge them, first at the breed level, then the group level, then the group winner stands in there, and one of them goes Best in Show,” he says.

Still, there is one switch up this year: Two new breeds will be available to compete.

First, there’s the Coton de Tulear: “They look a little bit like a cotton swab out there,” says Frei of the Madagascar-originating breed. “They’re kind of the royal dog of Madagascar – cute, little, long-white-haired dogs.”

The next new breed in the competition is the Wirehaired Vizsla, originally from Hungary. “It’s a beautiful sporting dog that looks like the Vizsla … [They] have this wonderful temperament and personality.”

What Judges Are Looking For
Cuteness doesn’t cut it in the big leagues – judges have specific characteristics they look for in competition, from structure (neck length, snout length) to cosmetic features like eye and coat color.

“Every breed has a standard, which is the written description of the ideal specimen of that breed, and, subsequently, how the dog comes together,” says Frei, adding it’s also about relating form to function and a look at “what the dog was originally bred to do.”

For example, “You don’t get to see a Siberian Husky pulling a sled, but you’d have to, as a judge, imagine them as a great, athletic, strong and fast dog that can do that.”

Still, there’s some room for subjectivity.

“When it comes down to the end, we feel we’ve always had seven great dogs standing in there that are probably all great specimens of their breed,” says Frei. “So it comes down to other things, like showmanship, charisma and personality.”

Dog Handling is Serious Business
While they’re not exactly brawling backstage, dog handlers can be an aggressive and passionate bunch. “It’s very competitive,” Frei says.

But, “At the same time, the people you’re competing with are the same people you see every weekend, and they become your social circle, too,” Frei adds. “They become your best friends, and you have this great interest in common: You both love your dogs and want to have the next great beagle or whatever.”

That sense of community translates outside the ring, too. Handlers banded together to create Take the Lead, a charity that raises money for people in the sport who are struggling with life-threatening or terminal illness.

Winning Can Take a Dog Anywhere – Even the White House!
The furry friend named top dog gets more than bragging rights and rich breeding potential – it can launch a whole career for a pooch, too.

Frei’s personal favorite best in show winner was Uno, the first beagle to come away with top honors in 2008 and a fan-favorite because “he was sort of an everyman’s dog.”

Upon winning, Uno went everywhere from L.A. to D.C. once he started getting appearance requests across the country.

He threw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game (“Actually, I threw the pitch; he ran and got it and brought it back!” says Frei), walked the red carpet with A-listers at Hollywood premieres, appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and was the only winner to ever visit the White House.

The top dog was even famous enough to get his own seat on airplanes.

“The computer selected him for additional screening one time, so we took him over and TSA patted him down. You don’t see those TSA guys smiling all that often, but they saw the humor in it,” Frei says, joking: “It’s really great to know that the world is safe from terrorist beagles.”

It wasn’t just fun and games for Uno, though. He went on to do charity work, as well. “He became a registered therapy dog, and we would visit Ronald McDonald houses all over the country,” says Frei.

The dog show will begin broadcasting on CNBC from 8 to 11 p.m. ET Monday. On Tuesday, the sporting, working and terrier groups (and the final event, Best in Show) will be broadcast on the USA Network from 8 to 11 p.m ET.

This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.com

TIME animals

Most Loyal Dog Walks 20 Blocks to See Owner Who Is in the Hospital

The pup was caught on hospital surveillance cameras

Nancy Franck of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, had been in the hospital for two weeks receiving treatment for cancer when she got an unexpected visitor: her dog, Sissy. But Sissy was not smuggled into Franck’s hospital room by her family. She had walked to Mercy Medical Center by herself.

The miniature Schnauzer apparently took it upon herself to walk the twenty blocks to the hospital, even though she had never been there before. The devoted pet was caught on video cameras in the hospital lobby, trying to figure out how to find her owner.

“She was on a mission that night to see her mom,” Dale Franck, who had been caring for Sissy while his wife was in the hospital, told ABC News, “but she couldn’t find the right elevator to take.”

Franck noticed Sissy was missing around 1:30 a.m. and was hunting for the dog until hospital security called him. “She found my number and house address from her tag on her collar,” he said. “I was so relieved, and I asked my daughter go and pick her up.”

Franck’s daughter went to fetch Sissy and was able to secure permission to bring the devoted dog up to see her mom in her hospital room.

Read next: California Police Dog Killed in Action Gets Hero’s Farewell

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

MONEY gifts

6 Totally Unromantic Truths About Valentine’s Day Spending

Greeting cards to send to your loved ones for Valentine's Day
Richard Levine—Alamy

Sure, people celebrate Valentine's Day to show how much they love that very special someone in their lives. But that's not the only reason people spend big bucks for Valentine's Day.

You’ve probably seen the headlines about how Americans will spend $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, which would be an all-time high. Before you buy the idea that Americans are simply gaga over the big lovey-dovey holiday and eager to splurge to demonstrate their feelings, let’s take a closer look at how people are spending their Valentine’s dollars, how spending changes over time—and why we celebrate this day the way we do in the first place.

Here’s some research to consider regarding Valentine’s Day spending:

One-quarter of men spend because they feel obligated or are just trying to get lucky. According to an Offers.com poll, roughly half of men say they celebrate Valentine’s Day in order to “spend quality time with my partner.” However, nearly one-quarter of men admit that they mark Valentine’s Day out of a sense of obligation or “because they’re hoping to get lucky.” Meanwhile, 13% of women say they celebrate just “because everyone else does.”

The longer the relationship, and the older you get, the less you spend. Love may or may not fade over time, but the likelihood of going all out on Valentine’s gifts sure seems to die the longer couples are together. One poll shows that men spend an average of $154 on fiancés, versus $136 for wives, while another survey indicates those in the prime spouse-seeking and newlywed 25- to 34-year-old demographic outspend all other age groups. Unsurprisingly, couples with longer-lasting relationships are less likely to make Valentine’s Day plans far in advance. Roughly half of couples who have been together for less than five years say they prepare at least a month ahead for Valentine’s, compared with only one-third of people who have been a significant other for more than five years.

Americans will spend more than $700 million on Valentine’s gifts … for pets. That’s according to the National Retail Federation. And that’s roughly double what we spend on Halloween costumes for pets, which is probably good—surely your dog prefers a Valentine’s snack to being dressed up in a ludicrous Madonna outfit.

1 in 5 women buy Valentine’s gifts … for themselves. Data cited by the Society of American Florists indicates that while men are more likely to buy Valentine’s gifts for their spouses—63% of men versus 30% of women—the ladies are more inclined to buy for their moms (30% versus 11% of men), friends (19% versus 7%) and themselves (19% versus 1%).

Rose prices spike just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s not just your imagination. Roses really do get more expensive around February 14. While wholesale prices vary depending on location, florists say they typically pay twice as much for roses in early February than they do at most other times of year. Increased transportation costs and extra labor are among the reasons often given for why rose prices are inflated around now, but overall it boils down to supply and demand: Roses cost more for Valentine’s Day because people are willing to pay more.

The two people most responsible for modern-day Valentine’s Day were entrepreneurs trying to make a buck. For centuries, Valentine’s Day was a mashup of a wild Roman pagan festival known as Lupercalia and the celebration of two Catholic saints (both named Valentine) who were executed on February 14. By the Middle Ages, it had become somewhat of a tradition to offer a handmade card or flowers to one’s beloved. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s, however, that it became popular to give mass-produced chocolates and Valentine’s messages, and we have two business-minded visionaries to thank for this.

First, there’s Richard Cadbury, a member of the famous chocolate-making family that been perfecting the bite-sized delectable then known as “eating chocolate.” Cadbury had the brilliant idea of packaging and selling these chocolates in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day, and the rest is history.

MORE 17 Memorable Kisses Throughout History

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a Massachusetts woman named Esther Howland was building her reputation as the “Mother of the American Valentine” for designing and popularizing high-quality lace-paper Valentine cards featuring messages of love and devotion. It was unusual at the time for a woman to run a business, yet Howland set up an all-female assembly line and kept the New England Valentine Company thriving for decades. First and foremost, one museum curator said of Howland to NPR, “She’s a businesswoman … I mean it is lacy, beautiful, feminine material that she’s producing, but she’s producing it successfully and making money.”

TIME Scotland

That Dog Abandoned at a Train Station with a Suitcase has Found a New Home

The male shar-pei crossbreed that was discovered tied to a railing outside the station in Ayrshire, Scotland, Jan. 2, 2015.
Scottish SPCA/REX USA The male shar-pei crossbreed that was discovered tied to a railing outside the station in Ayrshire, Scotland, Jan. 2, 2015.

The rescue home received adoption offers from as far way as New York and the Philippines

Kai the shar-pei’s train has reached its final destination.

After being abandoned at a Scotland train station with a suitcase full of his belongings in January, Kai has now moved into his forever home, reports BBC News.

The dog’s sad story made international news, causing the Scottish SPCA, who was housing the pup, to be flooded with adoption applications. Out of the hundreds of animal lovers wanting to take Kai home, Ian Russell was chosen.

“I’m over the moon and very shocked that I was chosen out of everyone who wanted him,” Russell says.

The hydraulic engineer lost his 15-year-old Dalmatian right before Christmas. Heartsick from the loss, Russell knew he wanted to help Kai after hearing news of the pooch. He reached out to the SPCA, calling the shelter to ask if there was any way he could help the dog.

“Fast forward a few weeks and here I am taking him home. I honestly think it was meant to be,” he says.

Russell says his work takes him all over Scotland, so he plans on turning the shar-pei into his furry travel companion, bringing him on truck rides when appropriate.

While Russell is local to where Kai was found, the SPCA’s care assistant Alan Grant says the shelter received adoption offers from as far away as France, New York and the Philippines.

“One of the reasons we chose Ian was, right from the start, he said he was interested in re-homing Kai but he would take our advice if we thought one of the many other dogs in our care would suit him better,” Grant says.

“It was really important for us to select an owner who wanted Kai for all the right reasons and had really thought through their decision to take on a rescue dog.”

While Russell feels like he won the lottery with Kai, he hopes the other adoption applicants still consider welcoming a shelter dog into their home.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME psychology

The Science Behind Why Dogs Might Just Be Man’s Best Friend

dog
Getty Images

Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Dog owners experience a wide range of health benefits.

Via Richard Wiseman’s excellent book 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

After carefully following the recovery rates of patients who had suffered a heart attack, Friedmann discovered that those who were dog owners, compared to those without a canine pal, were almost nine times more likely to be alive twelve months later. This remarkable result encouraged scientists to explore other possible benefits of canine companionship, resulting in studies showing that dog owners coped well with everyday stress, were relaxed about life, had high self-esteem, and were less likely to be diagnosed with depression.

In fact, they’re more health promoting than a spouse is.

Via 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

The participants had lower heart rates and blood pressure and made far fewer errors on the counting task in the presence of dog than they did if their partner was present—scientific evidence, if any is needed, that your dog is better for your health than your husband or wife is.

And this isn’t true for cat owners.

Via 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

Interestingly, the same cannot be said for cats. Some studies show that living with a cat may help alleviate negative moods but is unlikely to make you feel especially good, and others suggest that cat owners may actually be more likely than others to die in the twelve months following a heart attack.

And it’s causal, not correlative.

Via 59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute:

She assembled a group of city stockbrokers who suffered from hypertension, randomly divided them into two groups, and gave each person in one group a dog to look after. Both groups had their blood pressure monitored over a six-month period. The results revealed that the stockbrokers with dogs were significantly more relaxed than those in the control group. In fact, when it came to alleviating the effects of mental stress, the dogs proved more effective than one of the most commonly used drugs to treat hypertension. More important, as the people were randomly assigned to the “dog” and “no dog” condition, there was no difference in personality between the groups, and so that factor could not account for the findings. In addition to feeling less stressed, the hard-nosed city types had become emotionally attached to their animals, and none of them accepted the opportunity of returning their newfound friends at the end of the study.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME animals

Super Chill Dog Takes the Bus to Meet Her Owner at the Dog Park

Owners: who needs 'em?

Sometimes a dog just really wants to go to the dog park — and if that means taking the bus alone, so be it.

Eclipse, a self-sufficient 2-year-old black lab, has taken to riding public transit to the dog park alone when her owner misses the bus. “We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” said Eclipse’s owner Jeff Young, speaking to Seattle’s KOMO News. “It’s not hard to get on. She gets on in front of her house and she gets off at the dog park, three or four stops later.” No word on how she pays the fare with her cute little paws.

Since Lassie, Benji and Milo and Otis have helped pave the way for such precocious canine behavior, neither the dog, the owner, the bus driver, nor the other commuters seem to view the pup’s behavior as anything but adorable. “All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” commuter Tiona Rainwater, told KOMO. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?” A spokesman for Seattle’s Metro Transit said the agency loves that a dog appreciates public transit.

While Eclipse is apparently capable of riding the streets of Seattle alone, helpful Seattleites frequently stop the dog on her travels. Young told KOMO that he gets a phone call once a week or so from good Samaritans anxious to help reunite a lost dog with its owner: “I have to tell them, ‘no. She’s fine.’ She knows what she’s doing.” Lassie probably never had to put up with that.
[H/T KOMO News]

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