DEAR DR. FOX: I adopted a 9-year-old female poodle a year ago. Aside from me, she won't have anything to do with anyone -- especially men. When my husband passed away two months ago, several of my female friends came to visit me. As they started petting my dog, she would put her front legs around their arm and start humping it. I was so embarrassed.
What is going on? Could she be gay? Do I just need to keep her away from my lady friends?
DEAR C.M.: Your dog is just excited by your visitors, and is engaging in contact-play. This behavior could be triggered by the natural pheromones women emit or from various body lotions and perfumes that contain dubious animal-derived ingredients. Grasping and clinging behaviors have elements of affection, domination and sexuality. We see this behavior when dogs play with each other -- regardless of their sex, neutered or not.
Your dog is simply beside herself with joy, and should not be punished or isolated for this. Just laugh it off and redirect your dog's behavior with a squeaky toy or a knotted rope with which to play tug-of-war.
DEAR DR. FOX: Were the very first living things on Earth plants or animals? Or would they perhaps not be classified as either flora or fauna, as we currently define them? -- M.D.R., Tulsa, Oklahoma
DEAR M.D.R.: In my rambling article entitled "A Reflection on Animals, Nature and the Human Condition" (posted on my website, drfoxonehealth.com), I refer to the assertion of some evolutionary biologists that relatives of today's Cyanobacteria were probably the first living organisms on Earth that began to produce oxygen, which enabled other life forms to evolve. I reference this theory in order to encourage greater respect for all life: plant, animal and microscopic!
Without various bacteria, fungi and viruses, we would not exist. Our ignorance, indifference and adversarial attitudes toward other species ultimately lead us to harm ourselves. All life is connected and interdependent.
SMALL DOG BREEDS NEED EXTRA DENTAL CARE
Extra-small dog breeds -- those less than 14 pounds -- are up to five times more likely to develop periodontal disease than giant breeds weighing more than 55 pounds, according to a study recently published in the Veterinary Journal. Age, weight and history of preventive care are also risk factors. The researchers say smaller dogs' proportionally larger teeth cause overcrowding, which allows more plaque and tarter to accumulate, and that small dogs' alveolar bones are small in proportion to their teeth. (Full story: VetSurgeon.org, 10/6)
NEW BOOK: ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE ON NATURE, CONSERVATION
I encourage readers to seek out "Ecolibrium: The Sacred Balance in Islam" by Nadeem Haque, Al-Hafiz B.A. Masri and Mehran Banaei. This scholarly and inspiring book, for which I was given the honor to write the foreword, has been many years in the making.
This book will be of interest and inspiration for all who share concern about the fate of the Earth, and what can be done from the spiritual and ethical perspective offered by Islam. I knew, loved and worked with Haque's grandfather on animal welfare issues, in particular the inhumane aspects of ritual halal and kosher slaughter.
Readers may be interested in my writings on Islam, which will be published in a future book by Haque. If so, find the post "Islam and Animals: A Veterinary Bioethical Perspective" at drfoxonehealth.com.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)