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Teaching animal pets to read: too much evolution?

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By Nury Vittachi

New Delhi: Who thought pets could read? No one. But this dog has learned to read. Fernie, a two-year-old labrador from the UK, can read four words and is working on another 20, says his owner, a teacher.

I was impressed, as I well remember the difficulty I once had trying to teach a two-year-old human not to throw herself off a balcony.

All parents know that children get furiously angry if we stop them doing things like climbing into lion enclosures, drinking poison, eating mystery brown objects off the forest floor and the like. The basic toddler philosophy is: “I wonder what (insert lethal activity here) feels like? Let’s find out.”

(I suspect there’s also a subconscious undercurrent of “Time for a quick round of Make Dad Panic.”)

Parenting books say “they grow out of it”. They don’t say that they grow right back into it as teenagers, who have the exact same philosophy, but with more expensive dangers. (“I wonder what would happen if we mixed every chemical in the school lab?”)

The obvious solution is to teach children the way we teach dogs. “Sit.” (Child sits.) “Who’s a good boy?” (Adult pats head and presents tiny morsel of food.) “Study! Pass exams! (Child studies and passes exams.) “Who’s a good boy?” (Adult pats head and presents another tiny morsel of food.) and so on and so forth.

What if your child can’t talk yet? You can still teach it, thanks to scientists in Taiwan who have just invented an Infant Cries Translator app. You download the app and stick your phone near your baby’s mouth. Wah wah waahhhhh is translated on the screen into clear, adult-readable terms such as: “I wish to have an additional beverage, carer.”

This reminded me of my first daughter, who had advanced verbal skills and actually spoke like that from about 18 months old: “Convey me to the potty immediately, carer, or you and your so-called Persian rug will live to regret it.”

Happy memories. But I was brought back on topic by a colleague from the US who says TV shows in her home country feature a dog called Willow who can read. Clearly this is the trend.

I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced that teaching animals to read is a good thing. Life is grim enough without coming home to be greeted by my dog saying things like: “What do you think of Schopenhauer’s second volume of essays? Good grief, you haven’t read it, have you?”

The fact is reading gives humans an evolutionary advantage that we should not share with less-evolved creatures such as dogs, cats, amoeba, Donald Trump fans and the like.

But I must admit I was curious. So I handed my newspaper to my dog. She stared at the front page picture (a politician of course) and then tilted her head to one side, apparently having the same gyroscopic thing in her brain that smartphones have. Then she took a step forwards and peed on it. That was probably a rather insightful thing to do. I wish I’d thought of it.

If dogs do learn to read, let’s limit them to books about their kind: White Fang, 101 Dalmatians, and Marley and Me are probably the three most famous. Do NOT give them Cujo. (IANS)

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Check out Instagram Profiles of Paw-some Indian Celebrity Pets!

As much as we would like to know about our favorite celebrities, it is their four-legged best friends that equally catch our attention!

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Have you seen Priyanka Chopra's four-legged best friend Diana? Instagram

Mumbai, October 19, 2017: My Instagram feed is perpetually filled with pictures and videos of cute animals.

A baby goat sipping milk for a bottle with a feeder. A small puppy wearing a bow-tie. And a tiger who jumps into his trainer’s arms for a hug. For a lot of us, a major part of our time online is spent looking at pictures of baby goats, puppies, elephants and almost all other animals. Their cute antics warm our hearts and bring a smile on our face.

Saying that we all religiously follow our favorite stars on Instagram will be an understatement. Correct me if I am wrong, but fans know when was the last time Priyanka Chopra left her comfy Mumbai apartment for a coffee stroll, or what did Sushant Singh Rajput wear for his meeting.

Now, what happens when these two combine?

Our favorite celebrities and their pets? Sounds like heaven to me!

If you are a regular Instagram user, you would know of the hashtag – Dogs of Instagram.

As much as we would like to know about our favorite celebrities, it is their four-legged best friends that equally catch our attention! Many celebrity pets have their own Instagram accounts that you must follow if you aren’t already. Check out our list!

 1. Tia

Instagram handle: tia_thetzu

Tia is a super cute Shih Tzu puppy living the diva life in Mumbai with her darling ‘mummy’ actor Sophie Choudry and ‘granny’ Yasmin.

celebrity pets
Tia with her family. Instagram

One look at this little one’s Instagram account and you are sure to start judging your own profile.

celebrity pets
Tia, the Shih Tzu. Instagram

 

Tia can be seen accompanying mama Sophie to the groomer’s, at the airport, for pilates, and almost everywhere else!

Oh, did we tell you that Tia has also featured as the cover girl on one of India’s leading dog magazines?

This self-proclaimed ‘mama’s girl’ has swanky birthday parties, car rides and is a favorite with the paparazzi!

Complete with her cute shoes and bows in almost all colors, Tia makes for our favorite celebrity pets!

 

 

 2. Batuk Nath Rai

Instagram handle: batuknathrai

Don’t go by that name; Batuk, as he is fondly called by his over 31 thousand Instagram followers is a naughty beagle and a spoilt kid.

celebrity pets
Batuk Nath Rai is a beautiful Beagle. Instagram

Living the thug life with his parents, television-actors Kishwer Merchant and Suyyash Rai, Batuk Nath has the most beautiful pictures!

celebrity pets
Batuk with his parents. Instagram

 

The four-legged pooch is frequently visited by actors from the Indian television industry and the chap has a picture with almost all of them on his social media.

Batuk scan be seen sleeping with dear mumma Kishwer on the bed and nibbling on her hair ties and even headphones! But one look at his innocent eyes, and you wouldn’t even think of scolding him for his naughty errands.

Not to miss, Batuks’s small house made of white wood!

 

 3. Diana Chopra

Instagram handle: diariesofdiana

Who doesn’t know the heartwarming story of Priyanka Chopra and her little baby Diana, living (when together) in a swanky New York apartment?

celebrity pets
Diana lives with Priyanka Chopra in New York. Instagram

While our desi girl is winning hearts globally, Diana does not seem very desi herself.

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Instagram account of Diana is filled with her playful pictures and videos. Instagram

 

On her Instagram account, Diana can be seen chilling in a comfortable shark-shaped bed with food and water and a pink towel surround her sides.

There is also a video of a gruesome fight between Diana and a chew toy. Of course, our not-do-desi Diana won!

Diana, like her name suggest, lives a royal life with the cameras giving her equal attention, every time she accompanies mom Priyanka Chopra.

 

With her pink collar and cute antics, Diana is on top of our cutest celebrity pets’ list!

 

 4. Monster Kundra

Instagram handle: monsterkundra

Monsty, as he is fondly called, is a fluff-ball in white and hints of brown!

This cute little ball of cotton is not much into pictures, but boy, his videos! Monster’s Instagram account has a lot of videos that will be hard to put down!

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Monster looks like a ball of cotton. Instagram

Moster is a spoilt son to dad Karan Kundra and mom Anusha Dandekar and features on their Instagram and Snapchat accounts too!

Cute Monster doesn’t look much of a brat to us, however his dad Karan thinks otherwise. Either way, Monster makes it to our best celebrity pets’ list for his adorable, hard to ignore self!

 

 5. Masti

Instagram handle: sakpataudi

Masti is Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Kemmu’s Beagle. While the little star does not have an Instagram account of her own, she blesses mom Soha’s Instagram account quite frequently.

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Masti with mom Soha Ali Khan. Instagram

Contrary to all other celebrity pets, Masti seems a calm and composed star child.

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Masti with her newspaper. Instagram

 

 

You will find her sitting comfortable on Soha’s lap, looking into her eyes with true love and nothing else.

Did we tell you that Masti seems like a very smart and avid reader? You will find multiple images of one of our favorite celebrity pets sitting with a newspaper, lost in thoughts.

 

 

Our personal favorite, and the one picture that broke the internet has Masti sitting with mom Soha and little Taimur Ali Khan! Ah, so much cuteness in one frame!

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Masti with Taimur. Instagram

Masti resembles her mother Soha and her royal demeanor; she is composed, very well behaved and royalty-like! All these trains make her one of our favorite celebrity pets!

– Prepared by Soha Kala, Twitter: SohaKala

 

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Hormone Oxytocin In Dogs, Is Responsible for Sensitivity which Makes them Man’s Best Friend

Dog-Human relation as we know is far different from other animals, A new study speaks what's the reason behind their friendly and loving nature toward humans.

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Dog's hormone oxytocin sensitivity study. Pixabay

London, September 20, 2017: Ever wondered why some dogs are so friendly with their owners? It’s because of an association with genetic variations in sensitivity for the hormone Oxytocin, reveals a new study.

Since their domestication from their wild ancestor the wolf to the pets we have today, dogs have developed a unique ability to work together with humans.

One aspect of this is their willingness to “ask for help” when faced with a problem that seems to be too difficult.

However, there are large differences in the willingness to ask for help and to collaborate with humans, between breeds and between dogs of the same breed, according to the researchers.

This ability is associated with variations in sensitivity for the hormone oxytocin — known to play a role in social relationships between individuals.

The effect of oxytocin depends on the function of the structure that it binds to, the receptor, in the cell, the researchers said.

“Oxytocin is extremely important in the social interactions between people. And we also have similar variations in genes in this hormone system,” said Per Jensen, Professor at the Linkoping University, Sweden.

“Studying dog behaviour can help us understand ourselves, and may in the long term contribute to knowledge about various disturbances in social functioning,” Jensen added.

ALSO READ: Dogs can recognize human emotions: Research

For the study, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, the team examined 60 golden retrievers whose levels of oxytocin in the blood was increased by spraying the hormone into their nose.

The results showed that some dogs with a particular genetic variant are more sensitive to the hormone oxytocin, making them more likely to seek help from their owners.

These results help us understand how dogs have changed during the process of domestication.

Analysing DNA from 21 wolves, the researchers found the same genetic variation among them.

This suggests that the genetic variation was already present when domestication of the dogs started 15,000 years ago.

(IANS)

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Find out why Hinduism always emphasizes on being a vegetarian

The non-vegetarian foods make the mind restless, disturb to concentrate in worship, study or meditation

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Vegetarian Food and Hinduism
Indian food, Wikimedia

August 15, 2016: Vegetarianism is linked to numerous religions but it took shape in India as- Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. There are instances of having non-vegetarian food but from the ancient times, Hindu community people have always supported the vegan way of living and have always fought against violation of animal rights.

The Hindu text, Vedanta teaches that the only goal of a life is ‘Atmanam Bodhi’(self-realisation). It shows the path to a person who can experience being Atman (eternal soul), the indivisible part of God, that has never been born or will never die. As every person is compositive of mind, body, and soul; it is necessary to control the mind to come into direct contact with Atman or soul.

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Swami Vivekananda explains the control of mind with an analogy,”Get hold of the mind. The mind is like a lake, and every stone that drops into it raises waves. These waves do not let us see what we are.” Thus the thoughts- fears, desires, and attachments create waves in our mind, which can be mastered by control on food habits. Food habits change the mind and personality as claimed by Swami Chinmayananda (Founder of Chinmayananda Mission). He says,“Non-vegetarian food is laced with many toxins that create agitation and disturbance in the mind.” The non-vegetarian foods make the mind restless, as a result one fails to concentrate while they worship, study or meditate. So to know the true self and get liberated from the cycle of birth and death, Hinduism always emphasised on Sattvik food (vegetables).

Meditation, Wikimedia Commons
Meditation, Wikimedia Commons

Swami Avedananda (a direct disciple of Paramahamsa Shree Ramakrishna) said,“A Hindu is a vegetarian from the standpoint of Love. Love means an expression of oneness.” Hinduism defines that the whole universe is originated from non-materialised consciousness, Brahman. Chandogya Upanishad recites, “Tat Twam Asi” means, which unifies a person with every animal.

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Apart from these spiritual realisations, Hinduism always nurtured the idea of ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence). Yajur Veda advises, “You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s creatures, whether they are human, animal or whatever.” In Mahabharata, Ved Vyasa stated, “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma“(Non-violence is the primary religion).

George Bernard Shaw once said,“My stomach and body are not a crematorium or cemetery for killed or dead animals. While we ourselves are living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”

Mot only him, but the great scientist Albert Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

Hinduism gives the theory of Karma (cycle of work and result), and considers slaughtering of animals as sinful. One can understand, how modern is the faith, if one delves into it. In Hindu texts, to protect the nature- it is personified as the mountains, rivers, air etc. and worshiping animals as the deity, is a known fact to all.

– by Priyanka Saha of NewsGram. Twitter: @priyanka140490

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