When the Obamas announced in November that they would be getting a puppy for Sasha and Malia the whole world breathed a collective “aww” and envisioned the presidential kids carrying the young pup around like a doll. Well, the Obamas have officially announced the big reveal. Their new four-legged family member is a male Portuguese Water dog named Bo. Bo is 6 months old rather than being under 16 weeks. He’s already too big to be carried around by Sasha and Malia, but he’s just the right size to be cuddled by everyone in the family.
Scenes from a Saturday morning cartoon? A twisted scheme of some sort? Neither of the above. It’s the assigned mission at the August 2000 Advanced Operant Conditioning Workshop (a.k.a. chicken training camp), taught by Bob Bailey and psychologist Marian Breland-Bailey. Nine animal trainers from the U.S. and Canada, including myself, are here to meet the challenge. We have five days. Sounds like a joke, but it’s serious business. We’re here not just to train chickens. We’re here to learn the intricacies of a universal mechanism of learning called operant conditioning.
Have you ever wondered how Show Biz elephants are trained and housed and how they spend a typical day? Last week I found out when I visited an AZA (American Zoos and Aquariums) certified elephant training and conservation facility called Have Trunk Will Travel. Elephants from HTWT have starred in many movies and T.V. shows such as Operation Dumbo Drop, Ace Ventura, Big Top Peewee, the Tarzan Series and Scrubs. They also serve as animal ambassadors and participate in education events.
Patricia McConnell has once again presented us with a book that is not only informative but heartwarming as well. Dr. McConnell uses sound research on the subject of neuroscience and emotions to help us better understand emotions in our dogs, and she does it in a way that can be easily understood by anyone interested in this subject.
Haicheng, China, 1975. A massive earthquake hits. Buildings are demolished, roads destroyed, but thanks to an evacuation several hours earlier, thousands, possibly tens of thousands of human lives are saved. The Chinese claimed they’d predicted an earthquake within hours of its occurrence. Their forecasting system: animals.