The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

No smarter than the average bear

It turns out, trying to demonstrate that canis lupus familiaris are smarter than other similar animals winds up proving the null hypothesis instead:

If you are convinced your dog is a genius, you may be disappointed in the conclusions of a study just published in the journal Learning and Behavior.The study finds that dogs are cognitively quite ordinary when compared to other carnivores, domestic animals, and social hunters. “There is no current case for canine exceptionalism,” the authors conclude.

Nevertheless, systematically reviewing the animal cognition literature, British psychologists Stephen Lea and Britta Osthaus found dogs to be unremarkable in their cognitive capabilities compared to wolves, cats, dolphins, chimpanzees, pigeons, and several other species. For example, dogs seem no better at learning associations—such as between a behavior and a reward—than other species. Similarly, dogs can spatially navigate within small spaces, but other species can, too. And while dogs have an excellent sense of smell, the “pig’s olfactory abilities are outstanding and might even be better than the dog’s.”

On the other paw, having dogs appears linked to longer and healthier lives for dog owners. Take that, Wilbur!

The inevitability of winter

Overnight, a major blizzard hit Northern Illinois:

As of 7 a.m., 188 mm of snow was recorded at O'Hare International Airport, the city's official measuring station. Crystal Lake got 193 mm and some areas of McHenry County got 333 mm, according to the National Weather Service.

The north suburbs and southern Wisconsin bore the brunt of the storm. A winter storm warning remains in effect after blizzard warnings issued Sunday night expired early Monday morning.

It was the fifth-worst November blizzard in Chicago history, by snowfall amount. In my neighborhood, Parker's morning walk looked like this: 

As expected, Parker enjoys this more than I do.

Almost forgot

We can all be thankful for things this Thanksgiving weekend, but few will be as thankful as Parker, who got his cone off yesterday:

Trying something new

With my old dog apparently in permanent maintenance mode, we're trying something a little more comfortable for him:

That's a Comfy Cone, which he seemed to understand immediately would be more comfy for him. He did seem to sleep better last night.

We're going to the vet again today, to see if drugs alone can evict whatever has taken up residence in his knee. If not, he'll have to have the hardware out. Soon. The infection seems to have gone down a little in the last day or two but new oozing over the weekend did not make me feel optimistic.

At least he (and I) can sleep better with the new cone.

Lunchtime reading

I didn't have a moment to write any code from 9am until now, so my lunch will include doing the stuff I didn't do in all those meetings. At some point I'll get to these:

Now, back to writing code, as soon as I make yet another vet appointment for my bête noir.

Off-peak travel

Yesterday around 7am, I made it from where I parked in the main O'Hare parking garage to the concourse past security in 7 minutes. Today, at Raleigh-Durham, I made it from my Lyft to the concourse past security in 4 minutes.

If you have the option of traveling to or from a smaller airport on Saturday afternoon, do it.

Also, it's gorgeous out, so I not only got a chance to walk around Durham for an hour after brunch, but I also got to play with this cutie in her yard:

That's Hazel, my host's 6-month-old pit-lab-something mix. Chillest puppy I've met in a while. And so sweet. Fortunately for my host, Hazel didn't fit in my carry-on.

Quick Parker update

Before everything descends into 18 hours of post-election punditry and chaos, a quick update on the dog.

Last week he developed an infection around the site of his April surgery, complete with oozing drainage channel just below his knee. After a couple days of antibiotics, he's stopped oozing. We met with his surgeon today, and she said that the infection is in retreat, so he probably won't need additional surgery to pull the plates out. We'll continue antibiotics for three more weeks and I'll keep an eye on his knee through the end of the year.

The surgeon also hypothesized that the proximate cause of the infection was, ironically, his teeth-cleaning last month. She said she has observed cases where mouth bacteria can get into the bloodstream during cleaning, and interfaces between surgical steel and bone make good hiding places for them.

Fortunately, at 12½ years old, Parker will probably never have his teeth cleaned again—at least not by a vet while under anaesthesia.

So, Parker is fine, with no further ill effects except for another few days with the cone.

Totally exhausted

My move isn't really over yet. I still have about two, maybe three car loads at my old place. But they'll have to stay there because I'm totally pooped right now.

So far, the only casualties of the move seem to be a pizza stone and the connection bracket for my Nest thermostat. The latter is pretty annoying because I can't connect the thermostat without it. I swapped out my thermostat for the one that was in the apartment originally while the movers were moving, so it's entirely possible it's in a box somewhere. I hope so, because Nest doesn't sell parts.

And now, bed.

Oh, one other note: Parker got his cone off today. Happy dog.

Parker is having a worse day than I am

This doesn't happen often. Parker has a pretty good life, even when it consists solely of sleeping.

Today, however, the poor pup will have his teeth cleaned and a small fatty cyst removed from his eyelid, so he's now at the vet, hungry, anxious, and kenneled. Surgery is this afternoon. Then the groggy doggy will (most probably) suffer the indignity of a Cone of Shame for a few days.