October 2009
Citing a growing need in the veterinary profession for data about emergency and specialty practices, the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI) and VetPartners announce the release of financial and operational metric benchmarking tools designed specifically for referral practices. The tools can now be accessed at www.ncvei.org by logging on as an existing or new user.  This is the latest in a series of benchmarking tools developed by the NCVEI. The NCVEI was founded by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges in 2000.  (see entire article)

Although you wouldn't want one to balance your checkbook, dogs can count. They can also understand more than 150 words and intentionally deceive other dogs and people to get treats, according to psychologist and leading canine researcher Stanley Coren, PhD, of the University of British Columbia in a recent presentation to the American Psychological Association's 117th Annual Convention.  Coren, author of more than a half-dozen popular books on dogs and dog behavior, has reviewed numerous studies to conclude that dogs have the ability to solve complex problems and are more like humans and other higher primates than previously thought.   Their stunning flashes of brilliance and creativity are reminders that they may not be Einsteins but are sure closer to humans than we thought."

According to several behavioral measures, Coren says dogs' mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years.  "There are three types of dog intelligence: instinctive (what the dog is bred to do), adaptive (how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems) and working and obedience (the equivalent of 'school learning')."  The intelligence of various types of dogs does differ and the dog's breed determines some of these differences, Coren says.  "Border collies are number one; poodles are second, followed by German shepherds. Fourth on the list is golden retrievers; fifth, dobermans; sixth, Shetland sheepdogs; and finally, Labrador retrievers," said Coren.

Coren further states that the average dog can learn 165 words, including signals, and the "super dogs" (those in the top 20 percent of dog intelligence) can learn 250 words.  They can also count up to four or five, have a basic understanding of arithmetic, and will notice errors in simple computations, such as 1+1=1 or 1+1=3.  Through observation, dogs can learn the location of valued items (treats), better routes in the environment (the fastest way to a favorite chair), how to operate mechanisms (such as latches and simple machines) and the meaning of words and symbolic concepts (sometimes by simply listening to people speak and watching their actions).  Finally, during play, dogs are capable of deliberately trying to deceive other dogs and people in order to get rewards, said Coren. "And they are nearly as successful in deceiving humans as humans are in deceiving dogs." 
Q & A:
Q: Can I get in trouble for telling the truth when someone calls for a reference check about a former employee?
A: Unless yours is the practice with zero turnover and staffed by deliriously happy employees, these are all situations we in the veterinary industry may face from time to time.  In an ideal world, reference checking would be unnecessary because employers could rely solely on statements made by applicants in resumes, employment applications, and interviews.  However, in the real world, employers may be putting themselves at risk if they fail to confirm what applicants tell them. The magnitude of deception that occurs during the hiring process is staggering.  Numerous studies report that 64% of job seekers overstate their accomplishments, while 71% misrepresent the number of years they held a position.  In fact, 25% to 40% of applicants provide false, exaggerated, or misleading information about their qualifications or backgrounds.  
Dr. Forsgren 
 Dr. Brian W. Forsgren (DVM '77) was presented with the Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award at the AVMA's 146th Annual Convention in Seattle for his work in increasing the understanding, preservation and protection of the human-animal bond.  Dr. Forsgren has spent his career providing veterinary care to low-income communities throughout the Cleveland area.   He spent many years working with low-income pet owners and stray animals at the Willey Avenue Animal Clinic in partnership with the Cleveland Animal Protective League.  He opened the Gateway Animal Clinic in 1999 with the mission of providing access to care for all companion animals in the community.  Outside of practice, Dr. Forsgren has been active in the Ohio VMA, serving as OVMA president, chair of the Animal Welfare Committee, and chair of the Practice Act Task Force.  He was state veterinary representative for an update of Ohio's statutes on animal cruelty. With the OVMA and other organizations, he helped develop courses on shelter medicine for the Midwest Veterinary Conference. 
"Congratulations to Dr. Forsgren"
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