Four Legs Good

Voted Best Blog in the 2012 NetGuide awards, Four Legs Good is a place to talk about pets, and the frustrations and fun of owning them. Blogger Nick Barnett is joined by pet experts and pet lovers who write about the animals in their lives and pet issues of all kinds. And though 'Four Legs Good' is true, we’re just as fond of animals with two legs, many legs – or none.

Furry Friday: Their full attention

06:44am 08 May 2015

NICK BARNETT

Pets can be scatty, shiftless and distractable. But when a pet decides to give something its full attention, it's a sight to behold.

The pet's eyes go into wide-screen, hi-def mode. Its ears seem to double in size. Its nose becomes a separate creature, focusing like a Terminator on its quest.

Admittedly, all this sensory pet power may be serving no more historic a task than tracking a moth or sniffing out a morsel of duck poo. But that moment of attention is still quite a spectacle. 

Take Sapphire, our cover-cat. Could a hadron collider be more focused?

sapphire

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The snoring of pets

05:00am 07 May 2015

NICK BARNETT

Does your cat or dog snore? If so, are you worried about it? I discovered that though I may not need to worry about it, exactly, I may need to pay attention to what it might mean, and take action.

Connor sleepy

Connor has always been given to bursts of loud sleeping. His breathing would get hoarse, but not for long. It was as though he'd changed positions, or moved into a new stage of sleep. (Which is probably exactly what was happening, as I'll explain soon.)

But lately he's making more noise, for longer, and more often. We hear him in his crate after bedtime, making soft, snoozy noises. Yesterday I watched him next to me on the couch as he curled himself into his usual C-shaped, snout-in-the-crook-of-a-hind-leg pose. Soon he was breathing with a zzz, not gagging or choking or in any way alarming sounding, but humming moistly.

Not a big deal, you might think. Pets have a breathing apparatus basically like a person's, and so the phenomenon of snoring - the vibration of relaxed throat tissues while breathing - is going to happen sometimes. Half of us humans snore some of the time, and we handle it - even if it means ear plugs.

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Furry Friday: A state of comfort

05:00am 01 May 2015

NICK BARNETT

All my pets have impressed me in one certain way: they always choose comfort. Unlike us humans, who have to put off pleasure and suffer for the long-term good, a pet never puts itself into discomfort. Given the choice between the merest inconvenience or adversity on the one hand, and a sunny place or empty lap on the other, they'll always make the comfy choice, even if it means the world blows up and everyone dies in agony. 

I'm not knocking them for it. They get an easy life in repayment for all the good things they give us.

So today's theme is pets in comfort - expressions and poses that say "I'm happy where I am, don't you make it stop."

Cover-cat Samara is the model of easy contentment. Either that, or she's hatching a plot for a gentle form of world domination.

samara

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Pet friendship and the species barrier

05:00am 30 Apr 2015

NICK BARNETT

Why do we love it when animals of different species form friendships?

You'll find all sorts of cross-species friendships documented on YouTube: a gorilla and a kitten, a lion and a dog, a cat and a rabbit, you name it.

grievous
  Grievous the dog has a cross-species, cross-fence encounter.
Occasionally you'll find on the internet a beautiful written account or photo collection recording a bond between animals of different species. One of my favourites is the bond between a German Shepherd and an owl, stunningly recorded here.

Readers of this blog often send me photos of the cross-species tenderness or playfulness that they see between their pets - and I'm presenting some of these today.

But back to the question, why do these stories, pictures and videos uplift us so much? First, I think we humans are wired for love, friendship and loyalty; we need to experience these things, and to see them around us, because they make life possible. Seeing animals acting tenderly with each other makes us feel instinctively connected to those animals, to know something of what they're feeling. And when the animals are our pets, the emotion hits even harder.

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Furry Friday: The eyes of a dog

06:23am 24 Apr 2015

NICK BARNETT

The name we give to reflective road-studs is "cat's eyes". They startle us into driving more safely. But what would happen if our roads were lined with "dog's eyes"? I speculate that we'd never reach our destination, because we drivers would be all melted into puddles of adoration.

The scientific term for adoration seems to be oxytocin. That's the hormone that drips into our brains when we make eye contact with our dog, bonding us to our loved pet. It does the same in dogs' brains, which is a nice reminder that our dogs love us as much as we love them.

So here is the oxytocin edition of Furry Friday - a collection of loving canine gazes.

Cover-dog Ciccio loves you because you've let her have a swim.

ciccio eyes

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