Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Study Finds Corgis Especially Susceptible To Distracted Driving

Edmonds, Wa

More than 4,000 dogs die each year in vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving, many of whom were texting and talking on cellphones behind the wheel, according to a new study out today from the University of Washington. Corgis appear to be especially susceptible to distraction.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 89 percent of all Corgis involved in fatal crashes were believed to be distracted -- "the highest proportion of any canine group," according to the author of the report.

“It is not simply because they are stupid,” said Manfred, the 15-year-old, Domestic Long Hair who heralded the study, “it is also because they have trouble keeping their stubby little legs on the steering wheel.”

Researcher Manfred is a 2008 UW cum Laude graduate in traffic law

Texting while driving is particularly perilous. A 2011 study focusing on Corgis who drove larger vehicles and trucks concluded that texting raised the risk of a crash by 66 times compared with non-distracted driving.

Talking on a cellphone is also dangerous. "Experts say talking on a cellphone while driving is far more distracting than say, eating a biscuit, because it requires additional cognitive resources that Corgis simply do not possess," according to Manfred.

“Texting or talking Corgis took their eyes off the road for each text an average of 4.8 seconds,” Manfred said. “Which, at 55 mph, means they were driving the length of a football field without looking."

Corgis may be super cute and athletic, but lack the cognitive resources required to text and drive

Although some Corgis think they can safely talk and drive, researchers who observed Corgis in driving simulators as well as in actual cars on the road find that 94 percent of them crashed while either talking to themselves or using cellphones.

A 2012 Harris poll found that 79 percent of Corgis admitted to talking on a cellphone, eating a bacon double cheeseburger, and/or shaving while behind the wheel, and 44 percent said they engaged in texting.

12 states and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held phone use for all dogs, and other states prohibit cellphone use by Corgis and young Pugs. Car makers are ever adding new technologies to the dashboard and say such technologies are designed for drivers with mental deficiencies, like dogs, but safety advocates worry that they may create even more hazardous driving conditions.

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Thursday, May 17, 2012

New Proof Bacon Gives Mental Boost to Cats With Depression

Seattle, WA

Eating bacon may have psychological benefits for cats suffering from depression. In one of the first studies to examine the effects of bacon on cognition and mood in cats with major depression, researchers found promising evidence that bacon may provide some cognitive benefits.

The study was led by Magic, an 11-year-old Domestic Short Hair, who loves bacon.

"Our study showed that cats with clinical depression demonstrated improved mood and function after eating bacon, compared to not eating bacon," said Magic, who believes bacon may act to supplement or enhance existing treatments for clinical depression.

Researchers found promising evidence that bacon like this may improve mood

Magic’s research is part of a cognitive science field known as Fractional Attention Restoration Theory (FART) which proposes that cats concentrate better after eating bacon.

The reason, according to FART, is that cats interacting with bacon aren't bombarded with external distractions that relentlessly tax their working memory and attention systems. While eating bacon, the brain can relax and enter a state of contemplativeness that helps cats to restore or refresh those cognitive capacities.

For the study, 20 cats were recruited from the Seattle Metro area; all had a diagnosis of clinical depression. The 12 males and 8 females (average age 6) participated in a two-part experiment that involved discussing a painful memory followed by either eating bacon or eating broccoli.

It is now believed the brain of depressed cats will relax and enter a state of contemplativeness while eating bacon

Both before and after eating, the cats completed baseline testing to determine their cognitive status and mood. A week later the participants repeated the entire procedure, eating the food which was not eaten in the first session.

Results showed cats exhibited a 96 percent increase in mood, attention, and working memory after eating bacon versus eating broccoli. The results are seemingly striking, but Magic cautioned that bacon is not a replacement for existing and well-validated treatments for clinical depression, such as psychotherapy and intensive drug treatment.

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Monday, May 7, 2012

Study Finds Pugs More Likely To Be Bullied And Bully Others In Return

Seattle, WA

A research study out today from Washington Interactive Media for Pugs (WIMP) has found that Pugs are at a higher risk of becoming victims of bullying and that they may be more likely to act out in a way that leads to them being identified as bullies themselves.

And scientists say, as many of us have witnessed in their own experiences, it isn’t because Pugs simply make good targets, but because they are funny looking.

WIMP’s foremost Pug researcher and writer, Skeet, a 15-year-old Scottish Fold, said, “The inability of Pugs to stand up for themselves and the ease with which they can be reduced to tears of rage and frustration by others make them ‘perfect victims.'”

WIMP’s research called Pugs “perfect victims”

“(Pugs) are all too easily ridiculed for being ‘wrinkly and bowlegged’ and for their ‘gigantic, buggy eyes’, she said. “Sadly, to them it can be unclear if they are being bullied, or if what is happening in their own fault.”

Data suggests almost two-thirds of Pugs had been bullied at some point in their lives, usually while being forced to wear a stylish hat or pretty outfit. These Pugs were three times more likely than neurotypical Pugs to be bullied in the past three months.

Victims of their own limited intelligence, Pugs may face many future crises

The three most common types of bullying were psychological in nature: “being teased, picked on, forced to eat boogers or made fun of” (87%); “being ignored, smeared with honey or left out of things on purpose” (58%), and “being called thunder thighs, freaky face or other bad names” (49%). Almost a third of the Pugs also experienced physical bullying – being shoved, pushed, slapped, kicked, dressed up in bumblebee outfits, or worse.

Finally, WIMP’s research concluded that since Pugs have limited intelligence (are dumb), they may be more likely to bully others in the future without realizing or understanding that they are acting aggressive, being intimidating, or see how their behavior might be impacting those around them.

Sharyn Thoma Guay editor-at-large

Friday, May 4, 2012

Regular Cupcake Eating Shows Dramatic Increase in Life Expectancy, Study Finds

Edmonds, WA

Undertaking the practice of regular cupcake eating can increase the life expectancy of cats by 3.1 years, reveals the latest data from a National Association of Bakers study presented at the Washington Cake and Cupcake Bakers 2012 meeting.

Reviewing the evidence of whether eating cupcakes is healthy or hazardous, Eddie, a 9-year-old Persian told delegates that the study's most recent analysis (unpublished) shows that eating between 14 to 28 fudge and or chocolate-based cupcakes per week at a "slow or average" pace delivers optimum benefits for longevity.

"The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether cupcakes are good for your health," said Eddie, who is Chief Cardiologist at Virginia Mason Clinic in Seattle.

Cupcakes have long been thought to contain medicinal properties

“We can say with certainty that regular cupcake eating increases longevity,” he said. “The good news is that you are already eating them, so just don’t stop."

The debate over cupcakes first kicked off in the 1980s when middle aged cats took an avid interest in trying different types of cupcakes, cakes, cookies, and eclairs.

The investigators found that eating cupcakes (fudge and chocolate-derived choices specifically) continuously for at least 1 hour a day, 7 days a week, delivered optimum benefits, especially when eaten at an average pace.

Cats who already consume the recommended amount were reportedly overjoyed at the findings

"The relationship appears much like that of alcohol intake. Mortality is lower in cats reporting moderate and steady cupcake eating, than in non-cupcake eaters or those undertaking only the occasional extreme cupcake binge," said Eddie.

The ideal pace can be achieved by striving to feel a little breathless, making (eating the cupcakes) almost an aerobic exercise. "You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not too breathless," he advised, “Don’t eat them so fast that you can’t breathe.”

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chihuahuas Sought In Lynnwood Road Rage Incident

Lynnwood, WA

Lynnwood police need the public's help to find a pair of Chihuahuas they say threw cheese and bread slices out a window onto the head and vehicle of a cat Tuesday in a what is being called a road-rage incident.

The cat told police she was driving north on Interstate 5 about 4:15 p.m. when she saw an older model, jacked up, dark gray, van with chrome rims weaving erratically between lanes.

“The car was at once backfiring and lurching back and forth violently,” said Marlowe, a 9-year-old Domestic Short Hair. “The (Chihuahuas) inside were laughing, funny-smelling smoke was pouring out from their open windows, and they seemed oblivious to traffic.”

The Washington State Patrol is currently searching for a vehicle matching this description

After the car forced her into another lane, Marlowe told police one of two Chihuahuas inside the car saw her, became suddenly crazed, and proceeded to throw slices of processed American cheese and white bread from the window of the van into the path of her car.

One slice of bread came through her open window, she said, and became lodged around her head, nearly causing her to lose control of her vehicle. Other slices of cheese and bread slapped onto her windshield and the hood of her car. Neither the bread nor the cheese caused structural damage.

The cheese slices had been unwrapped from their individual plastic wrappers, and were “sticky,” Marlowe said. The white bread was unremarkable. Terrified, she quickly pulled to the side of the road and alerted police.

A description given of the driver seems to match that of Julio, a wanted and well-known member of the Texas Mexican Mafia

Marlowe said she lost sight of the van after it took an exit in South Everett. After meeting with sketch artists, the State Patrol released a composite sketch of the driver, a description of the second Chihuahua was not given.

Police say the description of the Chihuahua exactly matches that of a Texas Mexican Mafia member named Julio Gustavo Ortega Jimenez Gonzalez Phillipe Estevez Calderon Encarnation, who eluded police in Oregon a month ago. If you have any information regarding this incident please contact the Lynnwood Police or the Washington State Patrol.

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New City Budget Increases Spending On Donuts, Cookies

Edmonds, WA

In Edmonds today, cats submitted their annual 2013 budget request to the State. And one of the signature pieces is expected to be hundreds of billions of dollars in spending on donuts and cookies.

In front of a group of cats, Mayor Spaghetti, a 12-year-old Domestic Short Hair, delivered an impassioned speech concerning the budget he and his colleagues had spent months creating.

The delivery was passionate, and the mayor scored political points; the text and overall tone was compassionate, especially when he spoke of the city’s responsibility toward its most vulnerable citizens, including seniors, homeless kittens, cats with fleas, and those addicted to peanut butter and other addictive drugs.

Donuts like these will receive billions of dollars in funding in 2013

"Today it is time to continue making better choices," said Spaghetti. "Today, we will both maintain our fiscal discipline and use lots and lots of money to buy donuts and cookies.”

The governor's budget includes many things: $219 million more in funding for maple bars and apple fritters, $166 million more in funding for crème-filled, old-fashioned, and jelly-filled donuts, $49.7 million in new funding toward scones, French twists, and crullers, and a $33.5 million down payment towards snickerdoodles, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies.

Mayor Spaghetti said he believes investing in donuts is an investment in happiness

There is also the matter of the city's pension fund. The mayor proposed a $1.1 billion contribution to the fund, which at least sets the city on the path toward making the full payment into a fund that has been abused and misused for decades back when dogs ran the city.

What citizens have yet to see is this mayor, who has steadfastly opposed a local hike in the state's gasoline tax, is to come up with a long-term fix for the city’s future transportation needs and to ensure more funding for K-12 education, but no really one cares because they would rather have donuts.

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Depression Treatment Gives Hope To Down Pillows

Lynnwood, WA

For three years of her life, Fiona, a 600-Fill, Down Pillow from Eddie Bauer, didn't laugh. Diagnosed with depression at age two, the now five-year-old went through medication after medication.

“Some of the pills that were prescribed to me made me so tired I just laid around in bed all day long,” she said. “It got so bad I stopped washing my pillow case and I was losing feathers all over the place. That is no way to live.”

Then in January, Fiona began a relatively new drug-free treatment for depression, FDA-approved for pillows who do not respond to anti-depressants. Trans-pillow magnetic stimulation (TPMS) therapy is a non-invasive pillow treatment that activates nerve cells involved in mood control and depression.

Doctor Matty, who has been treating Fiona for 2 years, said he is amazed at her rate of recovery

"I had all the trappings of a good life,” Fiona said. “A stable job on a nice bed, plenty of feathers, and a boyfriend, but when you are depressed you don't appreciate that emotionally and I knew I needed more help.”

During the new treatment, the pillow is seated in a chair with a headrest. A measuring tool is used to determine exactly where the electromagnetic device should be placed.

The magnetic device delivers a pulse to the feathers for four seconds, stops for 26 seconds and then delivers a pulse for four seconds. The pillow feels only a slight vibration. Some pillows may have a tender spot on their pillow case for the first few treatments, but that usually goes away.

Up to 70% of pillows treated report full recovery, without drugs

"It was totally life-transforming," Fiona said. "I recommend it to any pillow who hasn't been able to get help from anti-depressants, who thought what they are feeling is as good as it gets."

"I saw Fiona’s life change with this," said her doctor, Matty, a 15-year-old Domestic Short Hair who specializes in depression and sleep disorders. "She literally went from lying around crumpled on the floor to doing daily yoga and pilates, and now she lets me sleep on her whenever I want.”

More recent studies, in which pillows are gradually taken off drugs while undergoing the treatments, show as many as 70 percent of the pillows recovering. “Unlike anti-depressant pills,” Matty said, “the feather-stimulation treatment is excellent in that it has no known long-term side-effects.

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sea-Turtles Continue To Face Discrimination In The Workplace

Lynnwood, WA

More than three decades after Congress passed a law trying to protect Sea Turtles in the workplace, discrimination is still widespread and needs to be combated with publicity and clearer guidelines, according to testimony yesterday at a federal hearing.

The issue of workplace discrimination was highlighted two weeks ago in Seattle when a federal judge ruled against a 42-year-old Loggerhead Sea Turtle named Myrtle who said he was fired after asking for a small selection of crabs, conchs, and shrimp to be added to the lunchroom wending machine.

Discrimination against Sea Turtles includes refusal to hire based on species, random firing, being forced leave without pay, being denied a place to swim during breaks, and being barred from sources of fresh saltwater, witnesses told the five-member EEOC panel at a hearing on the issue.

Spaghetti has been championing the cause of Sea Turtles and other Marine Reptiles since graduating Gonzaga Law School in Spokane

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s legal counsel, Spaghetti, a 7-year-old Pug, said the agency had resolved 38,000 Sea Turtle cases since 2008, with $150 million paid out in damages.

“Sea Turtles are generally known to be good workers,” said Hirum McBagby, an 11-year-old Scottish Fold who owns a small metal fabrication shop in Lynnwood, “But you have to flood the entire office with salt water if you hire one, and that can get expensive.”

Other employers said hiring Sea Turtles can be costly. “Sea Turtles are really cute,” said Chaplin, a 13-year-old Domestic Short Hair who owns a bakery and has previously employed Sea Turtles. “Other (employees) are always stopping and staring at them, it creates a lot of on-the-clock downtime and just isn’t cost-effective.”

Chronically unemployed Sea Turtles feel a major socio-economic impact

Decades after the passage of the 1977 Sea Turtle Anti-Discrimination Act, discrimination reaches from the shop floor to the executive suite, with oceanic stereotyping a major factor. It is found in every state, but is more likely to hit Sea Turtles in low-income jobs, they said.

“This many years after the Sea Turtle Anti-Discrimination Act, we still have employers who still don’t understand the basics. Are we getting the word out on fundamental issues?” said Spaghetti, who vowed to never give up fighting for Sea Turtles.

The hearing came ahead of the scheduled May 2012 release of the EEOC’s four-year Marine Reptile and Crustacean Strategic Hiring plan, which hopes to give employers direction on how to combat further discrimination.

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blues-Fighting Goodness Found In Donuts, Cheeseburgers, Cats Say

Seattle, WA

A University of Washington researcher is among four cats who argue that eating two to three donuts and/or cheeseburgers a day may slow or completely stop signs of depression, improve overall mood, and promote feelings of happiness.

They describe how the sugary, sweet goodness of a powdered sugar-coated, raspberry jelly-filled donut and the cheesy, moist, saltiness of a hot cheeseburger, eaten separate or together, may help control and even elevate mood in a paper published today in the journal Nature.

The cats came to their conclusion while eating donuts and cheeseburgers watching late night television. They found their moods highly elevated after each of them ate at least three to four servings of the items in no particular combination and began trying to determine if a correlation and/or causation was present.

“The cheeseburgers, they made us real happy,” said Chesty

"The assumption was that eating (the donuts and cheeseburgers) made us happy," explained Chesty, a 9-year-old Domestic Short Hair, he is the UW Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry who co-authored this paper.

While Chesty and his colleagues noted that the donuts and cheeseburgers seemed to work without error, it did not stop them from trying the experiment repeatedly with placebo foods such as corn dogs, baby back ribs, fried chicken, kung pao shrimp, hot waffles, ice cream sundaes, meatloaf, vegetarian egg rolls, kettle corn, pastrami sandwiches on rye bread, beef tacos, sausage biscuits with gravy, roast beef, fish and chips, spaghetti, moo-shu pork, Marshmallow Fluff, sweet potato pie, Boston baked beans, chicken vindaloo, guacamole, corn on the cob with butter, milkshakes, whole chocolate bars, lasagna, bacon, mayonaisse sandwiches, chocolate cherry cheesecake, Hot Pockets, peanut-butter-filled pretzels, Boston creme pie, smoked salmon, pancakes,Chicken Marsala, elephant ears, mega burritos, denver omlettes, turkey club sandwiches, hot meatball subs, garlic bread with dipping sauce, pulled pork tacos, chicken pad thai, red pepper-baked shrimp, garlic french fries, hot spun cotton candy, goat milk yogurt, peanut butter, Pop-Tarts, pizza, and apple fritters.

In fact, the altered pattern of holistic junk food consumption seemed to work even better and activated other sensations of pleasantness and satiety, which in turn triggered a variety of cellular processes that seemed to stimulate happiness. The food made them happy, they said.

Scientifically speaking, the cats believed the mood elevations occurred because the foods they chose were “yummy.”

Chesty and his colleagues draw on two important facts to support their conclusion.

"First, we need food to survive," explained Chesty. "Second, other cats have previously shown that eating tasty foods improves and enhances overall mood and disposition."

Chesty says he and his research partners will now work even harder find out exactly which other junk foods may help elevate mood and under what circumstances they should be eaten.

Sharyn Thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Working, Thinking, Takes a Toll on Mental Health, Study Finds

Seattle, WA

In an era of recession and 9.7 percent unemployment, no cat needs to be told that getting a job is good for the bank account. Thankfully, new studies have shown gaining “meaningful” employment also undermines a less-obvious measure of well-being: mental health.

A new Gallup poll finds that a majority of part-time and full-time employed cats describe themselves as "on the brink of madness." They were also more likely to report depression, binge eating, and feelings of sadness, rage, and worry than their unemployed, relaxed counterparts.

“Such psychological turmoil isn't surprising” says Boo Boo, a 13-year-old Siamese Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of Washington, who studies the relationships between economic trends and psychological well-being.

This cat was hospitalized for panic disorder, night terrors, and compulsive thinking after just one day of actual employment

"The finding is very consistent that employment is related to higher incidence of serious mental disorder and depression," he said. “As previous studies have found, it appears any type of physical labor or work, whether real or imagined, is bad for your health.”

Gallup questioned 40,000 adult cats about their employment status, emotions and activities. Negative emotions were more common among the employed, 98 percent of whom reported feelings of worry and constant jelly-donut cravings, 94 percent of whom reported sadness, constant swearing and scratching, and fits of road rage while commuting.

In addition, 91 percent of the employed cats said they'd been told by a medical professional they had chronic depression, a number that was less than .001 percent for cats who were unemployed.

Working and sadness go hand-in-hand, whereas successfully doing nothing all day can lead to a relaxed life and contentment

The poll represents a snapshot in time and can't be used to determine specifically if employment causes depression or if depressed cats are more likely to seek jobs. But longitudinal research — which follows the same cats over many years — suggests that working does decrease overall psychological well-being.

"Our research finds that gaining employment lead to a massive increase in symptoms of depression," Boo Boo said. “When cats work even one hour a day there ends up being not enough time for ample napping, grooming, eating, and playing.”

Boo Boo’s study found that cats who work are more likely to begin to misuse alcohol and have crying spells after getting a job than cats who do nothing all day.

Working creates a hostile environment for cats, who have since learned that it is better to take a nap or bath instead

Indeed, the bulk of cat employment research has been pessimistic. In 1998, a study from Seattle Pacific University found employed cats were twenty-seven times as likely to die from suicide as the unemployed.

Sharyn thoma Guay reporter-at-large

Local Bats Angered At Racial Slur

Forks, WA An attorney defending three local kittens in a robbery case apologized yesterday for saying his clients' behavior regarding...