For alpinist Ben Clark, scaling the world’s toughest mountains is a source of pride and peace; for his mom and dad it is a source of constant worry. What's a parent to do if their son’s lifelong ambition puts him in harm’s way? Plus, The “Save the Whales” movement of the 1970’s was instrumental in putting a stop to commercial whaling. But even as humpbacks and other whale populations have bounced back, one species is still up against the ropes. Literally. Later in the show, Sam tackles the problem of whale entanglement and discovers that proposed solutions include crossbows, Australian lobsters, and Chinese finger traps.
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For alpinist Ben Clark, scaling the world’s toughest mountains was a source of pride and peace; for his parents it was a source of constant worry. After they learned to live with their son’s adventurous streak, Ben decided to quit the mountaineer life altogether. Why? The answer may surprise you.
The “Save the Whales” movement of the 1970’s was instrumental in putting a stop to commercial whaling. But even as humpbacks and other whale populations have bounced back, one species is still up against the ropes. Literally. In this story, Sam tackles the problem of whale entanglement - and discovers that proposed solutions include crossbows, Australian lobsters, and Chinese finger traps.
Ask Sam - A Question About Canine Bathroom Rituals
Rebecca Lavoie asks: “Why does it take my dog so long to figure out exactly where it is that he wants to go to the bathroom? Number one, number two...it doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of pickiness going on. On-leash, off-leash, on walks on the road, running free…it doesn’t matter. Location seems to be incredibly important and I want to know why?”
Well Rebecca, (who is, full-disclosure, our digital director here at NHPR, and only called the Ask Sam line when we told her if she just keeps asking questions in the break room we’re not going to be able to create any content for the website) it’s because your adorable wheaten terrier is in fact descended from a timber wolf*.
For wolves and wild dogs, whose noses are simply astonishing, taking a poop is similar to leaving a trail of information behind:
“Who’s been there, when they’ve been there, what’s their reproductive status, what they’ve been eating, etc,” explains Dr. Brian Hare, who heads Duke’s Canine Cognition Center, and is the founder of Dognition.
“As people say often, it’s like a dog’s reading the newspaper to smell what others have left. They are creating content, and so just like you as a media person, you want to put your product your content in a place where people will see it. The reason that dogs for instance want to defecate or urinate on things that are high is because that’s going to be easier for someone else’s sniffer to run into.”
Dogs, with their leavings, are attempting to create an “olfactory bowl” (a fancy science-y term for their territory), and it would totally defeat the purpose of all that effort if they pooped somewhere hidden and a dog passing into their territory just walked right by.
Dogs that learn on a single type of surface are weirded out about using something that they are not used to. These preferences tend to be set by about four-and-a-half-months-old.
Sometimes pooping is simply not your dog’s priority, and distractions -- especially the presence of other dogs -- can be an issue.
Dogs are sensitive to magnetism, and when the magnetosphere is calm (about 20% of the time) they like to orient themselves North/South. “Why they would do that?” Brian Hare says, “Nobody knows.”
So you can take the dog out of the taiga, but you can’t take the taiga out of the dog. Just a little something to appreciate every time [insert your pup's name here] refuses to just let you go back inside.
* this statement may not be 100% science.
Outside/In was produced this week by:
Sam Evans-Brown, Maureen McMurray, Taylor Quimby, Molly Donahue, Jimmy Gutierrez, Logan Shannon, and Megan Tan.
Our theme music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.
If you’ve got a question for our Ask Sam hotline, give us a call! We’re always looking for rabbit holes to dive down into. Leave us a voicemail at: 1-603-223-2448. Don’t forget to leave a number so we can call you back.
This week’s episode includes tracks from Uncanny Valleys.