By Nancy Carlson • Columnist • 

Kibbles and bits

It has been something of a slow news summer, dog-wise, so rather than try to write a column about a useful topic, which apparently I don’t have enough imagination to come up with, this week is going to be “kibbles and bits” — tidbits taken from the July and August 2014 issues of Dog Fancy magazine.

And just so you know — you will have very little more information than you could ever want to use when you are done reading this than you have right now.

For example, in Helsinki, Finland, folks with apparently nothing better to do measured dogs’ eye movements when they were shown photos of people and other dogs, familiar and unfamiliar. If increased eye movements indicate increased recognition in dogs, dogs consistently recognized people and dogs they knew. However, they tended to spend more time actually looking at pictures of their dog buddies than pictures of their human owners.

And have you ever wondered why, unlike so many other things in nature, your dog smells ever so much worse after he’s been out in the rain (or after a bath, for that matter)? Turns out some organic compounds are normal on a dog’s skin, but they dissolve in water. Then, when they start to evaporate — pee-ew! This is one of thousands — if not millions — of examples where knowing the science does absolutely nothing to solve the problem. But it might make for a topic of conversation next time you are apologizing for your oh-so-fragrant dog.

Wondering where all your money has gone? Well, a lot of us are, and for good reason. Collectively, we spent $55.7 billion on our pets last year, an all-time record, although if the rate my money is pouring out of my bank account toward my vet, training and pet food lately is any indication, 2014 will top even that. The breakdown, according to the American Pet Products Association, is that we spent $21.6 billion on pet food, $14.4 billion on veterinary services, and the rest on supplies, purchasing pets, over-the-counter medications and other services like grooming and boarding.

OK. This next bit is getting pretty far out, but I read it in Dog Fancy, so it must be true. A service called PooPrints is now available in 42 states and several other countries. For a fee, PooPrints will do DNA testing on dog poop left illegally on someone else’s lawn or sidewalk. The very short article about this does not mention exactly how this particular form of crime investigation works, but if it’s available in Oregon, I plan on wreaking vengeance on all of you out there who apparently can’t manage to walk your dog and use a plastic bag at the same time.

Dog lovers are 19 times more into barbecuing, 22 times more into yoga and 36 times more into Dr. Phil than cat owners, according to data compiled by Exponential Interactive, a provider of advertising intelligence, digital media solutions and other pretty-much-useless information. Who’s Dr. Phil?

Right up there with other things you never needed to know is the fact that, under calm magnetic conditions, dogs prefer to defecate with their bodies aligned along the north-south axis (in the name of God, who pays for these studies?!), according to the online journal Frontiers in Zoology. I expect I’ll see a number of us, leash in one hand, compass in the other, checking this out tomorrow morning.

Now this last kibble does pique my interest. Two dogs on duty with the Indiana Department of Corrections have been trained to detect the presence of cell phones.

K-9 Dixie, a 2-year-old Belgian malmois, and K-9 Port, a 6-year-old Lab, have been on the scent of contraband cell phones and accessories, which apparently are used for nefarious purposes by some members of the prison population.

Between the pooches, they have tracked down 17 cell phones and 8 chargers. So all that’s fine and good, but what I’m thinking is, if Dixie and Port can be trained to find cell phones, what about my pack of bozos?

My cell phone does not get used for criminal purposes, but I am always tearing around my house looking for the darn thing while my dogs lounge about watching me. They could be finding it for me! And my car keys! And my husband when he’s taken off, wandering around Lowe’s. The possibilities are endless.

I hope I have something of more importance to write about next time.

Nancy Carlson can be reached at

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