Friday, May 27, 2016

Your Dog's Incredible Mind

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How often have you looked at your dog, looked at his expression and thought he was really smart? Or it's something else that seems unusual for him to know. Most people would accuse you of projecting your own thoughts onto him, or in the case of doing something, that it was just an accident. But was it? Really? When it was discovered that dogs are more accurate at detecting cancer than some labs it's time to pay attention. Isn't it about time for someone to explore the ordinary and extraordinary canine behavior to shine a light on the inner workings of a dog's mind and reveal the role of cognition in the rich mental lives of dogs? If you answered Yes! I have good news for you.
Dr. Brian Hare

Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND and Dognition - founded by leading dog cognition expert and Duke University Professor, Dr. Brian Hare - are exploring ordinary and extraordinary canine behavior to 
shine a light on the inner workings of a dog's mind and reveal the role of cognition in the rich mental lives of dogs. The fact that BRIGHT MIND is behind this research seems fitting. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will remember that before the food was on the market I had interviewed two nutrition researchers who were developing this food for dogs and cats. 

If you want to learn what goes on inside of a dog's mind, here's a graphic of Did You Know? Factoids that should help you understand:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Everybody Loves Norbert!

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There are so many cute dogs and cats on the internet that it's impossible not to spend an absurd amount of internet time cooing over their pictures. Frankly, I'm not immune. Yes, I'm a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant but I don't know if that makes me more or less vulnerable to the little darlings. I shouldn't admit this but I am a complete sucker for Norbert, a 3-lb. registered Therapy Dog, philanthropist, picture book star and social media influencer. I want to kiss him. I want to blow raspberries on his little tummy. I am utterly besotted.  And my colleagues would probably drum me out of the corp. Look at that face. I mean, just look at it? Could you keep your paws off his paws?

Norbert at The L.A. Mission

Julie Freyermuth is the lucky lady who became Norbert's mom when she saw him on Petfinder. "When I adopted Norbert, right away, I knew he was a special dog but I never imagined all of the wonderful things we would do together - from volunteering as a registered therapy dog team to donating books and plush toys to creating a picture book series and more. I am still in awe of it all."

Freyemuth is the children's book author behind Norbert's series of books with such charming titles as, Norbert: What Can Little Me Do? and Norbert and Lil BUB: What Can Little WE Do? co-starring one of my favorite internet cats, the equally adorable Lil BUB, who was featured here in February 2016.The books were illustrated by Virginia K. Freyermuth, Ph.D. and published by Polly Parker Press, LLC. Norbert has won 9 prestigious book awards including a Nautilus Book Award, and Mom's Choice Award.  

Yes, the little guy is a Philanthropist: "Norberthood for Good" does a lot of charity work in the Norbert's name. In addition to visits to hospitals, schools, nursing homes and special events, Norbert has supported a wide range of charitable causes such as Pet Partners®, Intermountain Therapy Animals, Just for Kids Sake Foundation, Lil BUB's BIG FUND for the ASPCA, the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation, and Boot Campaign, a military non-profit.

A portion of their profits are obviously sent to a range of charities. "The charities we support were selected because they are in alignment with Norbert's mission to spread smiles and encourage kindness." Norbert believes that you don't have to be big to make a big difference in the world.

Who can possibly argue with that?! It's impossible to look at little Norbert and not smile! There is such sweetness emanating from that little face, so much life sparkling in his eyes. He is totally captivating. 

Norbert's latest charitable venture is a new plush toy in his likeness to benefit Toys for Tots. Who wouldn't want a little Norbert of their own? The little toy looks amazingly like the real Norbert. What a perfect gift for kids of all ages! 

"By partnering with Toys for Tots, we extend Norbert's 'Buy One, Donate One' campaign to bring happiness to children in need who do not have the opportunity to own their own puppy or who could use a toy to hug and hold," says Freyermuth.

"We are very pleased to welcome Norberthood for Good as a National Corporate Donor of the 2016 Marine Toys for Tots Campaign," said retired Marine Colonel Ted Sylvester, vice president of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. "Their community service goals certainly align with those the Marine Corps has promoted for over 68 years through our Toys for Tots Program. Sylvester concluded, "With their generous support we will be able to fulfill the Christmas holiday dreams of many less fortunate children, who otherwise might be forgotten."

What is truly wonderful about Norberthood for Good is that it encompasses all age groups from children to seniors. No one is forgotten, no one is left out.

Norbert has worked on a variety of awareness and branding projects with major National Brands and other non-profit organizations such as The Walt Disney Company, Condé Nast, Hilton Hotels, iTunes, 

Natural Balance, and PetSmart.

In 2009 Norbert was adopted through He was so tiny that he could only go to a special home. Julie Freyermuth was deemed to have that special home. When asked how she trained little Norbert, Freyermuth responded, "I got lucky! Norbert is my first dog and I had no experience or knowledge about dog training. Norbert is very motivated by food and is super smart. Both of these things made him very easy to train.

If you want to purchase the Norbert Plush, please visit:

Norbert is all over social networking. One of my favorite places to see him is on his Facebook page where you'll find all sorts of posts and even videos. I'll be you won't be able to resist Norbert's High Five!

In 2015 Norbert won what The New York Times has called the "Internet's Highest Honor," he was a Webby Award Honoree in the Social-Animal Category.

You can Follow him on Twitter @NorbertDog

He's on Vine, YouTube, magazines, newspapers, websites, television. He's everywhere!