Animal Consciousness

Is it beyond what we even think it to be?

Do you look at animals an wonder just how intelligent and self-aware they might be? For years, I've told people to respect dogs because they have the mentality of a two-year old human, but I think they're probably even more aware than that. The fact that dogs, cats, dolphins, octopuses and many other creatures not only learn through play like we do but also enjoy it as a recreational activity has to be proof that many more creatures than we think are more conscious than we know... right?

Scientists say that the number of animals who exhibit an "inner life" ranges much farther than we'd imagine, with even insects and arachnids being included. If you've ever met someone's pet spider, you might agree; I've been amazed at what sure looks like affection between human and arachnid.

How conscious do you think animals are, and do you think that any creatures are as conscious or self-aware as humans? Why or why not?

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Icelanders Aren't Eating Whale Meat Anymore

Most of them aren't, anyway!

Great news for whales and those who love them: Iceland isn't whaling this summer for the third year in a row. In face, most Icelanders don't even eat whale meat anymore! Most of the whale meat the country serves is just for tourists. Even though commercial whaling has had a ban since the 80s, whaling was heavily implemented in some areas until recently.

Lots of solutions contributed to the reduction of whaling, from public awareness and education campaigns to established sanctuaries and alternatives to whaling considered. Many whales were still being killed at an alarming rate, but today Icelandic people say they don't even eat whale all that much.

Now to tackle another issue that threatens whales: the vast amounts of plastic we pollute our oceans with. Have you read any good developments in this area? Share any whale news you've read in the chat.

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Abbott Vetoes Anything Good

Including Protection for Dogs

Governor Abbott from Texas sure doesn't seem to like animals. He vetoed three pieces of popular legislation this week, including a bill to protect dogs. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act would have protected dogs from being left outside in the heat without food or shelter and regulated their collar and leash sizes. Who couldn't get behind a bill like that?

Abbott, that's who. He said the bill was a form of micromanagement and promptly vetoed it. Are you as tired as I am of working so had to enact good changes, seeing our tax dollars also at work to create those changes in Congress... only for ONE man with power to veto or block it from helping us all? Aren't we supposed to have a system that prevents this from happening? We need to fire every person who doesn't listen to the will of the people like this.

Have you heard any other news regarding animal protection this week? Share it in the chat.

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Animal Birthday Parties

How do you celebrate your pets?

Everyone's birthday is a big deal around here, whether you're human or not. Our chickens get yummy mealworm treats on theirs, while the cats get some wet food and the dogs get bun-free hamburgers. I definitely know we're not the only people in the world to celebrate this way, but I was so excited to see an animal shelter celebrate one of their oldest residents' birthdays.

Sammy, a 19-year-old Persian mix, had a sweet little party to raise awareness about the birthday boy. He needs a home to retire in and the shelter, Cincinnati Animal CARE, says that the cat's new owners must promise to throw him a big party next year, too!

What do you do for your pets' birthdays? Share your traditions in the chat.

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Support the Puppy Protection Act

The USDA needs to protect puppies.

When we hear about puppy mills being shut down, we might rejoice momentarily, but that only makes us forget that there are plenty of USDA-regulated mills in operation perfectly legally where dogs and puppies are crammed and suffering. These mass production facilities then send dogs to pet stores, brokers or Internet sales when shelters are already overrun with pups and dogs for adoption.

The dogs themselves aren't even the only victims. They often get sick with little to no vet care and bring illnesses into the communities in which they are adopted. It's inhumane and irresponsible all around. Please sign on in favor of the Puppy Protection Act that requires stronger standards for the care the dogs and pups receive. It includes breeding limits, a mandate that dogs are fed twice a day (can you believe that even needs to be said?), socialization time and many other protections these dogs need now.

What other ways can we help dogs? What are you doing where you live? Share your actions in the chat.

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The Best Way To De-Skunk A Dog

What has worked for you?

Growing up in rural Missouri, my dogs were often sprayed by skunks. The dogs thought they were playmates and never seemed to learn to stay away very well. As such, we all suffered from their playfulness and the wrath of their "new friends."

Lots of schools of thought exist on what gets the stink out best. My parents swore by tomato sauce but wow, they still stank for days after using it. It helped a little, I guess, but I don't think it got rid of the scent. Washing the dogs with soap and water? Forget about it.

The other day I read that you don't want to get dogs wet because it will make the stink stick, which is the opposite of what we want! Instead, mix baking soda and shampoo together, "bathe" the dog in it without water, then rinse after 20 minutes. The theory is that the scent gets absorbed and washed out this way. It makes sense for me but I'm not sure if it will really work or not.

How about you? What's your go-to way to get the sink out?

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Brazil Has A Highway of Death

Thousands die every year

BR-262 is a highway in Brazil that is known by a much more gruesome moniker: The Highway of Death. That's because over 3,000 animals die there every year, prompting local animal activists to take action and advocate for these terrible atrocities to wildlife. As someone who grew up near a road known as "Blood Alley" in my state, I understand the challenge of a dangerous road and improving it for all beings in a community.

This particular road, which crosses through the territory of thousands of animals, was constructed in the 1960s long before environmental impact was even considered during such an undertaking. Local authorities didn't address the issue until activists decided to sue them over it, and hopefully they will remedy the problem soon.

What other cases of humans saving animals have you read this week? Share them in the chat.

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Protect Monkeys From The Pet Trade

Monkeys shouldn't be pets

In 19 states, monkeys are allowed as pets. While we've all seen cute videos of people with their monkeys, in reality this is a cruel practice that is not only unfair to the monkeys, whose natural habitats are much different and suited to their needs, but also but to humans. Pet monkeys are dangerous to humans and result in injuries and health risks.

Monkey rescue organizations say that most of the monkeys they care for are former pets whose owners either surrendered them or had them removed from their care. To prevent this problem from happening, there's a bipartisan effort to change the Lacey Act and save these primates from this abuse, intentional or not. Sign on here to support this amendment.

Have you seen any other actions to support animals this week? Share them in the chat.

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Animals That Help With Pests

What are your favorites?

By now we all know how beneficial bees, birds and butterflies are to our gardens and very lives. Between pollination and pest control, they are invaluable as well as beautiful guests to enjoy. But what about other helpful animals around your property?

Where I live in the Midwest, black snakes are very helpful since they eat all the venomous snakes. The same goes for wolf spiders. The thing is, it's not fun to see either of them! Bats are also incredibly helpful, eating thousands of mosquitos, which are also bad where I live, which is near a river. Then there are ladybugs and nematodes that eat garden pests and possums that help get rid of ticks.

What other kinds of beneficial animals do you have where you live? Share their benefits in the chat!

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No, Penguins Do Not Have Teeth

Those pictures do look terrifying, though!

There are a bunch of pictures circulating the web about penguins and their terrifying teeth. They do look monstrous, completely spinning the usual adorable fluffy bird pics we see on their heads, but they aren't teeth. Penguins have beak teeth as babies, but those menacing-looking "teeth" in the pictures are actually structures called papillae.

The papillae are made out of soft keratin spikes that help the bird capture fish and ensure the slippery prey make it to their stomachs. It's a pretty cool adaptation, even if it's not teeth!

What other animal misconceptions have you read about? Share them in the chat!

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