New Spray Promotes Friendliness Among Dogs, Even People
Youtube Screen Capture/Inside Edition
this week, one story was of the amazing friendship formed between atiger named Amur and a goat named Timur
. Timur was supposed to be a meal for the big cat, but the friendly goat had other ideas. Now, so far, they are best buds. They're not the only unusual animal friendships, though. Let's look at a few more.Tiger And Goat Forge Unlikely Friendship In Russian Zoo
Metro Richmond Zoo
Here's another pair of cute, fast friends. Meet Kumbali and Kago -- a puppy and a cheetah cub (Kumbali's the cheetah and the lab mix is Kago). They live at Virginia's Metro Richmond Zoo. It's not clear how long they will remain together, but they seem to love each other's company. (Check out thisvideo
, if you can handle all the cuteness.) Next we'll take a look at some unforgettable pictures fromRocky Ridge Refuge
, which knows a thing or two about unlikely animal friendships, as you will see.Cheetah Cub, Puppy Make Fast Friends At Va. Zoo
It's not every day you see a baby skunk and a kitten getting to know each other on your couch. But it was a typical day for Janice Wolf, her menagerie of dogs, sheep, donkeys, horses, emus, and countless cats, ducks, rabbits, turtles -- and whatever animal may need a home that day. Wolf runsRocky Ridge Refuge
in Gassville, Ark. The refuge is her personal labor of love for abandoned, abused and injured animals of every shape, size, species and ailment. Wolf's rescues generally enter the refuge with horrific tales of neglect and abuse. But through Wolf's perseverance many of the animals go on to live long, happy lives -- filled with some of the most amazing interspecies friendships. "The only rule we have here is 'we gotta get along,'" said Wolf. "And they do." Above, we see an abandoned kitten (part of a litter left for dead when the kittens were just a day old) that engaged Josh, the resident skunk. Josh was raised by humans and then abandoned and didn't have the necessary skills to survive in the wild.Cop Saves Baby Skunk From Yogurt Cup In Viral Video Gem
Shown is one of Rocky Ridge's great success stories, Tristan, a three-legged dog (top left), who came from a horribly abusive home and went on to make frequent visits to nursing homes, as a therapy dog. His friendship with Fiesta, an orphaned deer, was also legendary. "He just assigned himself the protector," recalls Wolf. "He came from such a terrible place but he was so loving and forgiving. That’s the great thing about animals -- they pay it forward." Meanwhile, Duncan, the dog at right, also came to Rocky Ridge Refuge "from a bad situation." But he never seemed to hold it against any person or animal. Here, he uses Nabisco the fawn as a pillow.
You'd never know it from Parfait's belly-up smile and her gentle demeanor with Mark, the emu chick, that she was once so abused her collar had become embedded in her neck. Parfait came to Rocky Ridge Refuge after living on the streets of St. Louis. Rescuers found her with a litter of puppies that had frozen to death. Parfait, too, was close to death, according to Wolf, who spent time nursing the pitbull back to health. Parfait broke the boundaries of pit bull prejudice, enjoying all things cute and fluffy, from chicks to bunnies.Famous Animals Of The Big And Small Screen: Photos
Here Rocky Ridge's capybara Cheesecake befriends dogs. Cornbread, a deaf bull terrier (bottom right) and Cheesecake were instant friends, according to Wolf.10 Oldest Dog Breeds: Photos
Ivan, the Catahoula mix, started going blind at about a year old, but it never stopped him from "nannying" Rocky Ridge's orphans, like Raoul the raccoon.Hibernators Stretch After Long Winter's Nap: Photos
Blade, the Irish wolfhound, came to Rocky Ridge Refuge as a puppy and then spent the next year of his life recovering from paralysis of all four limbs. With lots of physical therapy and love, Wolf was able to help Blade learn to walk on his own. Before he could walk, however, he was a favorite of the other baby refugees, who often kept him company inside while the other dogs were able to roam outside. Look closely and you can see that Blade is cuddling with a duckling.Funky Ducks Thrive At NYC's Central Park: Photos
This photo may be the true image of brotherly love. The orphaned lamb was adopted by the mother of the puppy he's sleeping atop. The mother dog gave birth to 10 puppies on Wolf's bed just a week after being brought to Rocky Ridge Refuge. She "insisted," on caring for the lamb as though it were one of her puppies, according to Wolf. The lamb nursed (and cuddled) along with the rest of the pups. The final (and largest) piece of this snuggle puzzle is Krispin, a St. Bernard puppy who came to the refuge with a broken leg.VIDEO: Why Do Puppies Yawn?
Lurch may have been Rocky Ridge Refuge's most famous resident of all time. The African Watusi steer holds the record for the largest circumference of horns -- ever. He was even recognized by Guinness World Records. Lurch was also the leader of Rocky Ridge's motley pack until his death in 2010, according to Wolf. His size never prevented him from befriending other refugees, including Isaiah the cat. Here, a young Lurch (with his horns yet to reach their 8-foot span) grazes while little Isaiah enjoys the ride.Cats Don't Actually Ignore Us
Finally, meet Janice Wolf herself. Here she is posing in 2012 for a photo with two of Rocky Ridge's refugees. The animal rescue organization was a life-long dream of hers. "I was born to do it," says Wolf, recalling that her first "rescue" was a pelican when she was just a toddler growing up in Florida. For more than 20 years she's used her experience as a veterinary technician and holistic medicine practitioner to help animals. You can follow the stories of her animals on theRocky Ridge Refuge website
.Selfish Dog Moms Fueled Domestication
A potent new spray promotes friendship between animals even, in some cases, if they come from different species, according to a new study.
The spray's active ingredient is oxytocin, which is a naturally occurring hormone released by the pituitary gland. When formulated into a spray, it becomes a veritable Love Potion Number 9, with more emphasis -- at least in this case -- on friendly rather than romantic interactions.
The study, published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at how the spray affects dogs, but it holds tremendous promise for human usage too. It might even help to reform curmudgeonly cats.
"Studies in humans have already shown that oxytocin affects our tendency to affiliate or cooperate with other people," co-author Miho Nagasawa of the University of Tokyo's Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences told Discovery News.
"As far as we know, there are no studies on cats, but we believe that oxytocin is a hormonal mechanism that facilitates the maintenance of close social bonds not only in dogs or cats, but also in any mammal species since the oxytocin system is very ancient and has similar functions in a wide number of taxa," Nagasawa added.
Lead author Teresa Romero, Nagasawa and their colleagues studied how 16 adult dogs of different breeds behaved both with and without being sprayed by the oxytocin formulation. All of the dogs are pets that live with their owners.
The scientists recorded any instance of bonding behavior that the dogs showed with other familiar dogs as well as with their owners. The behaviors included sniffing, licking, gentle touching with the nose or paw, playing and resting in contact with the other's body. The researchers also measured how much attention the dogs paid to their owners or to their canine pals.
"We found that after receiving the oxytocin spray, dogs displayed more affiliative behaviors and paid more attention to their owners than during the controls," Romero told Discovery News.
As for how the spray works, the researchers said it significantly changed the dogs' heart rate variability and stimulated secretion of oxytocin. These indicate that the spray "can penetrate into the brain and stimulate the oxytocin system in the central nervous system," Nagasawa said.
The hormone is known to play a role in childbirth and lactation, but Romero said that prior studies also show it mediates maternal behavior, mother-infant bonding and pair bonding.
The researchers chose to study dogs, she said, since they are known to form close emotional bonds with each other as well as with another species -- people.
The spray likely won't magically turn enemies into buddies. The researchers said that, when taken as a whole, all of the studies suggest that the effects of oxytocin are context-dependent. The hormone appears to strengthen pre-existing friendships and family connections, but it could stimulate the forging of new beneficial relationships. Romero explained that oxytocin is a promising candidate for treating animal, including human, deficits in social integration.
Professor Larry Young of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center is director of the Center for Translational Social Neuroscience and is the author of the book "The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction."
Young told Discovery News that the new study is "remarkable," in that it "demonstrates for the first time that the same brain chemical that promotes mother-infant bonding and pair bonding between mates/partners is also very likely involved in the bonding between dogs and their owners."
He continued that it's also the first study "to show a neural or chemical mechanism of cross-species bonding."
Young agrees that oxytocin holds great promise for treating people with social impairments, such as autism. He also said that it might also be used to treat previously abused dogs that are distrustful of their new and well-intended human caregivers.