Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hopefully Pets Will Have Protection Against Domestic Violence—A New Bill Is In the US House of Representatives

 On March 4th, 2015, a bill was filed in the United States House of Representatives that has the potential to protect our furry friends in the most tragic of circumstances, domestic violence.  The Pet and Woman Safety Act of 2015 would protect pets defined as any domesticated animal that is not used for commercial reasons from the abusers by:

  • Adding pets to those protected under the federal stalking statute—this means the stalker would be subject to fines and/or imprisonment if they through travel, electronic media or other means place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm or death for them or their pet.
  •  Include pets as the subject of interstate protection orders.
  • Amend the section of restitution owed to the victim to include veterinary services related to domestic violence.
  •  Create an Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Grant Program to award grants to eligible entities to carry out programs to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, and their pets.  The bill provides for $3,000,000 in funding for each of the first four years of the program.  This would include things like shelter provisions for animals and veterinary care.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Myths of Multi-Tasking...Sharon Salzberg Explains Why

We often feel that multi-tasking is a more efficient way to function in our fast paced lives.  However, research shows that multi-tasking is actually detrimental to high functioning.  Click here to read an article by meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg on multi-tasking:

Stay Tuned for Our Compassion Petitation...Here's One Reason Why

Compassion meditation was shown to reduce mind-wandering and therefore promote health.  To read the article, click here.   We will be introducing a Compassion Petitation in the fall.  We can't wait to share this with you!

This is Quan Yin (sometimes spelled Kwan Yin or Gwan Yin), the Chinese goddess of compassion.  For more information on her, click this link. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Love to Gaze Into My Dogs’ Eyes, and Now Science Has Shown Me Why: The Oxytocin-Gaze Positive Loop

It was actually quite ingenious.  Japanese scientist Miho Nagasawa and his colleagues measured oxytocin concentration (the hormone secreted when Mom’s gaze into their babies’ eyes, often known as a “feel good hormone”) in the urine of 30 dogs, several domesticated wolves, and their owners.  They measured how long the owners gazed into the eyes of their pets and how long they touched them during a 30-minute period.  The researchers found that the oxytocin levels were significantly elevated for the owners and dogs that had longer gazes and touches. 

However, this was not true for the eye contact of the wolves.  This makes sense given that eye contact can be interpreted as a sign of aggression for the wolf. 

In part two of the experiment, the scientists nasally administered oxytocin to the dogs and found that the oxytocin increased the gazing behavior between the female dogs and their owners, which in turn increased the oxytocin levels in the owners.  It’s not clear why the nasal oxytocin only increased the gazing behavior for the female dogs—the researchers guess it has something to do with the importance of oxytocin levels when females bond with their offspring.

Click here to access the article.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Misty and Her Dog Enjoy Their Active Life Together

My campaign is about getting pets to be more active, and exercise with your animal is a great way for people to exercise. When you're out with your pet, it becomes fun. You don't think of it as a chore. For me, taking my dog out for a walk is very relaxing.

Misty May-Treanor (Beach Volleyball Star)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Know We Love Our Pets and They Make Us Happy, but Do They Actually Change Our Hormone Levels?

The answer seems to be a resounding YES

  • We know that playing with, talking with and petting our pets enhances our mood, now we may know why…. Short term interaction between dog and owner results in elevated oxytocin—the “feel good hormone” levels
  • Other neurotransmitters increased after interaction between humans and dogs as well as oxytocin, include beta-endorphin (numbs pain), prolactin (stimulates milk production after childbirth, eating and mating), beta-phenylethylamine (stimulant), and dopamine (motivation and pleasure) and cortisol hormones (stress hormones) decreased. 
  • Similarly, we love to gaze into our pets’ eyes. What we might not have known was that there is a physiological reason for this—it also raises our oxytocin level (feel good hormone)(One night I was telling Pippi that I “lose myself in her eyes” but my partner responded that I never talk to her that way--that’s a whole other story).
  • Can we go so far as to say that we respond to our pets in the same way that we do our children? Not quite… A pilot study showed that when women were shown pictures of their children and dogs while undergoing an MRI, different parts of their brains showed activity (visual processing of face and social cognition for dogs vs. reward/affiliation for their child). The mothers did however, rate the same level of excitement and pleasantness between their dogs and their children.

As you can see, there is a lot of work to do to uncover exactly why our pets make us feel as good as they do. I for one, know that my pups are doing something deep in my brain and that that makes a lot of difference in my life.

Tibetan Singing Bowls

Each of the Petitations ends with the sound of the Tibetan Singing Bowl. This is an important part of the Petitation. It is a calming and relaxing way to bring you back to material reality after the Petitation is over (not to say you can’t continue to stroke your pet, think of things you are grateful for etc. after the ringing of the bell). Here are some basic theories and facts about the singing bowls. Please note: since much of the information is from oral tradition historians are not in complete agreement.

Happy Face

Is it really true?  Can our dogs read our faces to tell if we are happy or angry?
A recent study says YES!


Most of us think, whether we will admit it publically or not, that our dogs can read our facial expressions.  There is finally some exciting research to back this up.  A team of Austrian researchers led by biologist Corsin Muller put 11 dogs to the test.  They began by training the dogs to touch happy faces or angry faces on a computer using treats to reward them.  It gets more complicated, though.  The dogs were not given the whole face, rather only either the top or the bottom part of the face so that they discerned the nuances that differentiate happy and angry faces (i.e., not only the smile).

Friday, April 3, 2015

You Can Change the Structure of Your Brain with Daily Meditation

Did you know that you actually change the structure of your brain when you meditate regularly? This results in better physical and emotional health and well-being

According to recent research, when you meditate, you can grow gray matter in some parts of the brain and shrink it in others.  This is known as Neuroplasticity, the idea that your brain changes due to experiences, thoughts and emotions.   Growth in certain areas leads to increased capacity for compassion and increased self-awareness, while shrinking in others reduces stress and impulsive decision-making. Meditation can re-route neural pathways from those that lead to obsessing and worrying to those that allow you to focus on what is going on in the present moment. In fact, with time, you can change your default mode of thinking. Some athletes use meditation techniques to increase focus and “get in the zone.” It’s important to note that the research indicates that you are best off with a regular mindfulness meditation routine.

Do our pets change our hormone levels?

We Know We Love Our Pets and They Make Us Happy, but Do They Actually Change Our Hormone Levels?
The answer seems to be a resounding YES

We know that playing with, talking with and petting our pets enhances our mood, now we may know why…. Short term interaction between dog and owner results in elevated oxytocin—the “feel good hormone” levels