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News from Dr. Monica
The Pet Communicator

October 2015     
In This Issue
A Unique Vacation Adventure
A Very Smart Dog
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Dr. Monica Diedrich, The Pet Communicator 


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My husband and I went to Florida early in September and we decided to be quite adventurous this time. I know many of my fellow animal lovers would quickly take the opportunity to go swimming with the dolphins, but instead, I went swimming with... the alligators!

Read about it below. 
A Unique Vacation Adventure 
Well, in Florida, we did not exactly go swimming with the alligators - but we did visit an Alligator Farm where there were hundreds of alligators, and we also took an air boat into the Everglades where we saw many in the water as well.
Although we saw some very large alligators, we also saw 3-month-old baby alligators that were only about a foot long. We were told that they'll eventually grow about a foot per year. The largest alligator ever found was 19 feet long, and the oldest one lived to be around 76 years old.
What interesting creatures they are! They bask in the sun until their skin is ash-like and dry-looking from the mud in the river, and they can stay still without even moving their eyes for hours... until it's time to eat, of course, and then there's a big frenzy.
Now, understand that these animals are wild, but they are welcome to come to the Farm anytime they want, to eat or to rest on the beach.
They were right in front of us with just a small fence in between us.
At one point, they were so still I thought they were simply statues, and that we were just being fooled, but then someone came in with a big bucket of chicken and started feeding them one at a time. He would call out to one who would approach the fence and jump up to get his prize, snapping his snout shut with a big clash of his teeth.
At one point the man feeding them had his hand just a half inch from the inside of the alligator's mouth. So you think he was scared? Oh no, he would scratch the alligator under his chin as if he were his pet!!
The alligators all knew they were going to be fed, so they didn't fight among themselves at all. Each one would wait for his or her turn.
If the food fell on the ground, an alligator would move his huge head to the side, find the dropped morsel, and eat it in one gulp. They never chew their food, so if alligators can't eat food in a single bite, they'll allow the food to rot, or they'll bite at a large piece and then spin or convulse wildly until they're able to tear off bite-sized chunks.
Of course, alligators are wild animals, and my expertise is geared more toward pets, but I found them to be intelligent and serene. Their only concerns are to survive and "chill out." They try to conserve their energy as much as possible, so they don't need to eat too often. They understand hierarchy, and they recognize the humans who feed them.
Ultimately, I learned they're not as vicious as the news sometimes makes us believe, but we do need to respect their boundaries. I now have a better understanding of them, with more respect and less fear. Still, I don't think I'll be going swimming with them anytime soon!
A Very Smart Dog
Not long ago on the show 60 Minutes there was a story about a dog who has been called "The Smartest Dog In The World."

The story of Chaser and her human, 86-year-old retired psychology professor John Pilley, was originally broadcast on October 5, 2014 and rebroadcast on June 14, 2015.
Chaser recognizes the names of over 1000 items. She has been taught for up to five hours a day, five days a week for the past nine years. Professor Pilley says Chaser has the capabilities of a 2-year-old, BUT most 2-year-olds know only about 300 words.
One of the more fascinating things Professor Pilley has taught Chaser is to recognize the difference between nouns and verbs. He can say, "Give me your paw," or "Touch my hand with your nose," but he can also say, "Paw the round toy," or "Take it," or "Dump it," or "Nose it" (as in smelling), and Chaser will perform the correct action instead of simply giving her paw or her nose.
60 Minutes also interviewed Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University, who believes Chaser is the most important dog in the history of modern scientific research. He feels that Chaser is learning the same way children do.
But, what I liked most, is one of the things Brian Hare said about the human/animal bond: "We know that when dogs and humans make eye contact, that actually releases what's known as the love hormone, oxytocin, in both the dog and the human... whenever they play, touch or look into one another's eyes. We know, now, that when dogs are actually looking at you, they're essentially hugging you with their eyes."
Finally science is catching up with me!
These new discoveries about dogs have led Brian Hare to create a science-based website called Dognition.com, where owners can learn to play games to test their dog's brain power.
You can watch the entire 60 Minute segment by clicking here. 

Within the text of that segment, there's also another 2-minute extra segment you might enjoy watching called "How Dogs Express Their Emotions." You can access it directly on YouTube.

Of course, some breeds of dogs might be able to acquire some skills faster than others, and some might not ever master them very well at all, but after all is said and done, the main thing I've been saying all along still stands. No matter what, our animals feel, and love, and share their emotions with us at every level. So whether it's learning a new skill, or simply hugging you with their eyes, THEY DO HAVE FEELINGS.
To know more about how they share their feelings with us, I invite you to read my book Pets Have Feelings Too, available as an e-book on my website petcommunicator.com.  
Start Your Holiday Gift Shopping Now!
The time flies so quickly - it's October already and the year-end holidays will be upon us before you know it! Start your holiday shopping now, by ordering from the comfort of your home - with no crowds - from my website. I even have some items on sale! Browse petcommunicator.com and give a unique present for the holidays.

Do you know someone who would love to have a conversation with his or her pet? Gift Certificates are available for Pet Readings! This is the perfect and most unusual gift for anyone who loves their pet.
Thank you to all of you who believe in me and the work I do. And thank you too, in the name of all your pets for allowing them to have a "voice."  
Until next time...
Dr. M.
Dr. Monica Diedrich
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