CLOSE
iStock
iStock

How to Take a Dog Kayaking

iStock
iStock

While the main point of a vacation is to get away from everyday life, one of its downsides can be leaving behind any beloved pets that just aren’t suited for particular types of getaway—say, cats who might get bored touring WWII battlefields, or hamsters who might not get along with the beach. Rather than giving his precious dog a firm command to sit and stay, however, retired orthopedic surgeon David Bahnson came up with a way to indulge his love of kayaking while taking his golden retriever, Susie, along for the ride. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Susie herself came up with the idea. According to The Dodo, after Bahnson had finished constructing the craft from a standard kayak-building kit, Susie found her way into the baggage compartment, and Bahnson realized she fit perfectly into the space.

In order to make the kayak more dog-friendly, Bahnson added a section of "coaming," a raised border around the prebuilt compartment’s opening, to prevent water from splashing into Susie’s space. After that, off the pair went.

When another dog, Ginger, joined the family, Bahnson simply added another hole to the kayak, perfectly balancing the boat with one dog in front and one dog behind. It’s a preferable setup to what most kayaking dog owners, or dog-owning kayakers, use: keeping the dog in the same cockpit as the paddler makes for increased intimacy but decreased mobility. “That’s kind of awkward,” Bahnson told The Dodo. His custom-built vessel allows both Susie and Ginger to settle into their own compartments.

Bahnson’s story isn’t so unusual—plenty of pet owners choose to take their dogs out on the water with them—but the purpose-built kayak is unique. Bahnson stresses that both Susie and Ginger had previously accompanied him and his wife on other forms of transportation normally reserved for humans, including cars and planes. They were also aquatically inclined, happily accompanying him on kayaking trips (and even going windsurfing once), but there’s no guarantee all dogs will feel as comfortable. Age is one consideration, since it’s true that old dogs don’t always want to learn new tricks—especially if those tricks involve getting wet. A dog that doesn’t want to sit on land is almost guaranteed to rock the boat, and no one wants to deal with the smell of a wet dog. 

For any aspiring dog-kayakers, there’s such a thing as Dog Scout Camp, which helps pets and their owners learn various water safety skills. While it would be helpful for the dog to know how to swim, there’s something even more essential: a personal flotation device (PFD), also known as a doggy life preserver. Just as it’s important to keep safety first in mind for humans, the same goes for dogs. Plus, just think how cute your pup will look in neon orange.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Animals
Where Do Birds Get Their Songs?
iStock
iStock

Birds display some of the most impressive vocal abilities in the animal kingdom. They can be heard across great distances, mimic human speech, and even sing using distinct dialects and syntax. The most complex songs take some practice to learn, but as TED-Ed explains, the urge to sing is woven into songbirds' DNA.

Like humans, baby birds learn to communicate from their parents. Adult zebra finches will even speak in the equivalent of "baby talk" when teaching chicks their songs. After hearing the same expressions repeated so many times and trying them out firsthand, the offspring are able to use the same songs as adults.

But nurture isn't the only factor driving this behavior. Even when they grow up without any parents teaching them how to vocalize, birds will start singing on their own. These innate songs are less refined than the ones that are taught, but when they're passed down through multiple generations and shaped over time, they start to sound similar to the learned songs sung by other members of their species.

This suggests that the drive to sing as well as the specific structures of the songs themselves have been ingrained in the animals' genetic code by evolution. You can watch the full story from TED-Ed below, then head over here for a sample of the diverse songs produced by birds.

[h/t TED-Ed]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
arrow
Animals
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios