Country Life Today: Why keeping your dog healthy means looking after yourself, and the discarded coin sold for £550k

Today's news round-up looks at how dogs take on our own stress levels, tells the tale of a chance find worth £550,000 and finds a novel way to cut the tonnes of food thrown away in Britain each year.

How to keep your dog’s stress levels down? Reduce your own

Your dog is your best friend, but if you want to be his or her best friend in return then you’ll need to keep your stress levels down, according to new research. Zoologists at Sweden’s Linkoping University have discovered that dogs’ anxiety levels  – as measured by the amount of cortisol in their systems – rise in tandem with that of their owners.

‘Dogs are quite good at understanding humans,’ says the report’s lead author, Lina Roth. ‘They’re definitely better at understanding us than we are at understanding them.’

No dog owner will be particularly surprised, of course, but it’s always nice to get scientific confirmation of what we know intuitively. But there is one surprise: the phenomenon doesn’t work in reverse, which is to say that nervous dogs don’t make their owners nervous.

‘At first, I was quite surprised at that,’ adds Roth. ‘But for the dog, the owner is quite a big part of their everyday life, but the owner has the rest of their life out there.’

Read the full story (National Geographic) – and then read Ben Fogle on why he loves labradors (Country Life)


See a penny, pick it up… especially if it turns out to be worth £550,000

This 1,700-year-old coin was found a couple of months ago by an amateur enthusiast with a metal detector; now, it’s sold at auction for £550,000 — the estimate had been just £100,000.

Full story (Daily Mail)


Stat of the Day

£1,000,000,000,000

That’s £1 trillion, if counting all those zeroes has made your eyes swim. That’s the cost of Britain meeting its emissions targets by 2050, as ‘calculated’ by Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond in the face of Theresa May’s determination to put into motion new environmental policies before she leaves office.

Perhaps we’re being unfair, but the sheer roundness of this number doesn’t half suggest that it’s been absolutely been plucked out of thin air — and the Chancellor’s Daily Express-style scare tactics in his letter to the PM only serve to increase that suspicion: ‘Philip Hammond has written to her, saying it would mean less money for schools, police and hospitals.’ It’s always those three somehow, isn’t it?

Don’t take our word for it, though. Here’s a Number 10 spokesman pouring scorn on the notion in a statement to the BBC: ‘[There are] a lot of figures out there on this issue that don’t factor in the benefits or consider the costs of not doing this… The costs relating to meeting this target are whole-of-economy costs, not a fiscal cost, and so it’s not really right to frame it as a trade-off for public spending.’

Full story (BBC)


A major step forward in the battle against food waste?

It turns out that your dad was right after all: that out-of-date food in the fridge really is fine, apparently. Scientists know full well that use-by and best-before dates are pretty much useless.

Help is at hand, however, to lessen the 10 million tonnes of food thrown out each year in Britain: a team led by Dr Firat Güder from Imperial College has invented a label which detects noxious gases given off by rotting meat to tell consumers when it is and isn’t safe.

Full story (The Times – subscription required)


And finally… a Quote of the Day for World Gin Day

‘I’ll stick with gin. Champagne is just ginger ale that knows somebody.’

  – Captain Hawkeye Pierce in M*A*S*H, as played by Alan Alda