Surprise! Dog Owners Are Twice as Happy as Cat Parents, According to Recent Survey

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Dog owners and cat owners are constantly being pitted against each other, but are these groups really all that different? According to a new survey spotted by The Washington Post, they diverge in one key area, at least: Happiness.

The questionnaire, which was part of the 2018 General Social Survey, found that dog owners are twice as likely as cat owners to report feeling "very happy." Survey respondents were asked to rate their level of happiness, and the results were broken down by the types of pet they own (or do not own).

The ranking goes like this: Dog owners are the likeliest group of people to consider themselves "very happy." People who don't own any pets came in second on the happiness spectrum, and people who own a dog and a cat rank third. Cat owners trail far behind them all, with only 18 percent reporting that they feel very happy.

Dog owners were also more likely to report playing with their pet, seeking comfort from their pet, and considering their pet a member of the family.

The General Social Survey has been tracking trends in public opinion since 1972 in an effort to contribute to social science research. These surveys have shed light on some fairly heavy topics, including everything from political sentiments to religious beliefs to overall well-being. From a statistical standpoint, the latest focus on a topic that has long been broached over dinner and drinks—"Are you a cat or a dog person?"—proves that there might be more to the question than merely first date fodder.

However, as The Washington Post's data reporter Christopher Ingraham is quick to point out, these findings don't necessarily mean that dogs are the sole source of happiness (even though pup owners might beg to differ). "The General Social Survey data show that dog owners, for instance, are more likely to be married and own their own homes than cat owners, both factors known to affect happiness and life satisfaction," the newspaper notes.

In other words, don't feel too bad if you're a cat lover. There are plenty of proven benefits associated with having a kitty at home.

[h/t The Washington Post]

100 Dachshunds Competed in Cincinnati’s Annual ‘Running of the Wieners’

NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images
NORRIE3699/iStock via Getty Images

Every year, to kick off Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, 100 dachshunds compete in heats to decide who the fastest dachshund in the Midwest is. This year marks the 43rd annual Oktoberfest—one of the biggest Oktoberfest celebrations outside of Germany (more than 500,000 people attend the three-day event).

On the afternoon of Thursday, September 19, 100 wiener dogs (and their owners and handlers) gathered in downtown Cincinnati for the 2019 "Running of the Wieners." The dogs, dressed in hot dog costumes, ran 10 heats, which lasted 75 feet or five seconds each. The winner of each heat advanced to the final round, where the top three finishers were decided.

Maple, a long-haired, one-year-old dachshund, ran his way into first place—and into our hearts.

Maple’s owner, Jake Sander, told WCPO that Maple is one of five dachshunds in the family, and that he learned to run fast by chasing his brother around. Leo and Bucky, two other doxies, placed second and third, respectively.

Besides the Running of the Wieners, Zinzinnati also hosts the World’s Largest Chicken Dance. However, the wiener dogs are more fun to watch.

Photographer Captures Polka-Dotted Zebra Foal in Kenya

Frank Liu
Frank Liu

Zebras are known for their eye-catching patterns, but this polka-dotted foal recently photographed in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve really stands out from the herd. As National Geographic reports, the zebra baby likely has pseudomelanism, a rare pigment condition that's been observed in the wild just a handful of times.

Nature photographer Frank Liu saw the zebra foal while looking for rhinos in the savannah wilderness preserve. After initially confusing the specimen for a different type of animal, he realized upon closer inspection that it was actually a plains zebra born with spots instead of stripes. The newborn foal was named Tira after the Maasai guide Antony Tira who first pointed him out.

Zebra foal with spots walking with mother.
Frank Liu

Zebra foal with spots.
Frank Liu

A typical zebra pattern is the result of pigment cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for the black base coat, and melanin, which gives the animal its white stripes. (So if you've ever wondered if zebras are white with black stripes or black with white stripes, the answer is the latter). In Tira and other zebras with pseudomelanism, the melanocytes are fully expressed, but a genetic mutation causes the melanin to appear as dots rather than unbroken stripes.


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Though rare, this isn't the only time a zebra with pseudomelanism has been documented in nature. Pseudomelanistic zebras have also been spotted in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, but Liu believes this could be the first time one was found in the Masai Mara preserve.

Zebra stripes aren't just for decoration. The distinct pattern may act as camouflage, bug repellant, and a built-in temperature regulation system. Without these evolutionary benefits, Tira has a lower chance of making it to adulthood: Pseudomelanistic zebra adults are rarely observed for this reason. But as Liu's photographs show, the foal has the protection and acceptance of his herd on his side.

[h/t National Geographic]

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