Tag Archives: Newshounds

The singing link:

In follow-up to my recent link to a neat article about modern wolves not actually being the being from whence dogs came, here’s a story about n elusive critter I never knew existed, who may in fact be the “missing link” – the New Guinea Singing Dog:

The Highland Wild Dog [also called the New Guinea Singing Dog, or NGSD] of the Island of Papua is considered by many to be the rarest dog on the planet. NGSDs exhibit many unique behaviors found nowhere else in any other breeds of dogs. NGSDs are considered [to be the] link between the first dog – wolf – and today’s domestic breeds.

You can read the whole thing here.

A captive new guinea singing dog letting out one of the ‘songs’ they’re known for. Credit: R G Daniel (flickr.com/photos/rgdaniel)


Edited to add: here’s the voice –


Dogs, wolves, 15,000 year old ancestors – and no, it isn’t gluten intolerance

Now-extinct wolf may be ancestor of modern-day dogs

No strong signs of canine ancestry among living grey wolves

Dogs evolved from a wolf lineage that has since gone extinct, a study of canine DNA suggests.

Researchers have long assumed that dogs branched off from a still-living wolf species. …


Poo poo pa do

Very funny story of entrepreneurial war in the Albany Times-Union:

Poop scooping is dog-eat-dog fight to top of the pile

You might assume that Jonathon Locke has a crappy job. You would be wrong. …He is driven by poo.

Petri love:

Bacteria On Dog Lovers’ Skin Reveal Their Affection

Well, it looks like there really is such as thing as a dog person.

Humans who share their homes with canines also share the similar bacterial houseguests on their skin, ecologists Tuesday in the journal eLIFE.

In fact, two dog owners who don’t even know each other have about as many of the skin bacteria in common as a married couple living together.

The signature doggie blend is a mixture of harmless bacteria from their tongues and paws, the report finds. Microbial sharing from pooch to person occurs primarily through two routes: tongue to skin and paw to skin.

That’s right, dog owners have bacteria from Fido’s tongue and paws flourishing all over their bodies.

(Don’t worry, it’s good for you.)

Gilly’s obsession with mac-n-cheese, explained.

Interesting research on wolves, dogs, and digestion of carbohydrates:

“No one knows for sure when or where the first dogs came to be, but most evolutionary biologists agree that the wolf probably made the first move and that the draw was the food humans discarded. Only much later did people intensively mate dogs of different shapes and temperaments to create today’s hundreds of breeds and varieties, from the hulking and noble to the tiny and yapping.

The new analysis by Axelsson and his colleagues examined a mix of DNA from 12 gray wolves and compared it with DNA collected from 60 domestic dogs, including cocker spaniels, giant schnauzers, golden retrievers and 11 other breeds.

The scientists sequenced the dog and wolf DNA and searched for tiny differences. Because they were seeking features that cropped up early in dog evolution, they focused on genetic variations that dogs shared but wolves lacked. They also looked for variations that all, or most, of the dogs had in common.

From this analysis, the team identified 36 places in the genome, containing 122 genes, that seemed to have been important in dog evolution. Ten of the genes are involved in starch or fat metabolism, including three that carry instructions for making a protein that is pivotal to digestion of starch.

In addition to the starch genes, Axelsson’s team found others involved in brain and nervous system development that appear to have been important in the transition from wolf to dog.

That isn’t surprising, said Adam Boyko, an evolutionary geneticist at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., who wasn’t involved in the study. Dogs differ behaviorally from wolves in myriad ways, he said — in tameness, curiosity, social structure, tail-wagging, novelty-seeking behavior and their penchant to bark (and bark) well into adulthood.

The next step is to study that list of genes to figure out how they affect behavior and development to make dogs distinct, Boyko said.

Oscar Chavez, director of the veterinary technician program at Cal Poly Pomona, said the findings served as a reminder that dogs don’t eat like wolves. He said he and his colleagues were befuddled by the trend toward pricey low-carb dog foods and raw diets, which could stress dogs’ kidneys with their extra protein load.”

You can read the whole thing here.

This is not news, by the way – instead, this is new and more detailed science explaining why domesticated dogs are omnivorous, and how we know.

I linked a good article on the mythologies associated with canine digestion, woo-based GRAINS = DEATH! fads, and raw foods diets a while back: worth a read if you’re considering how to best feed your beloved canine friends.

And for what it’s worth, which isn’t much (since people are devoted to doing exactly what they’re doing, most of the time, regardless of evidence that it isn’t working, sigh): if your dogs get sick every time they eat – which is truly not normal (a thing that shouldn’t need saying but does) – some things to consider:

  •  go to an evidence-based vet (not someone who suggests not only unproven but actually disproven treatments like homeopathy and acupuncture and raw foods/BARF/Chinese medicine which has never been tested for use in animals & is more likely to be toxic to them than anything out of your fridge/etc.
  • human beings who never go outside except under very controlled and artificial conditions, who never ‘eat dirt,’ as we say (develop healthy and necessary gut bacteria and appropriate immune system response to their environments), or otherwise live in totally sterile, urbanized, or otherwise unnatural environments also become weak and ill and hyper-reactive and allergic to the entire world – we now make dogs live this way, too, and they pay for it just as we do
  • we have over-bred dogs into literal physical dysfunction which causes them profound suffering and disease; the total lack of functioning of a digestive system that when healthy is essentially that of a scavenger may be a by-product of this inbreeding
  • and finally: people project a lot of their own psychological issues about food, food-as-love, illness, illness-as-love, etc. onto their dogs in ways that are quite harmful and restrictive to the animals – do try to not be that person, for your dog’s sake, eh?

Some of these things we have control over, some we don’t – but a lot of it is our garbage, not theirs.

There are about a billion forums and websites dedicated to how to feed your dog. Most of them cater to human issues and baggage about food and illness, not canine ones.

Again, for whatever it’s worth – which isn’t much all things considered – my experience is that the way humans and dogs are most alike is this: if someone gets several hours of really good exercise spread out throughout each day, good sleep, high quality and balanced food of a wide variety excluding poisons, meaningful work, clear boundaries and expectations so they know how to be safe, successful, and secure in their world, happy and regular socialization with others, and love, they are happy and healthy. If these things go out of balance in a big way, they start to fall apart.

Arthritis research updates

Summaries of some new research on CAM arthritis treatments, via SkeptVet:

I’ve written extensively about alternative arthritis therapies, largely because that is one of the most common conditions for which complementary and alternative treatments are used. While a few are promising (such as fish oils), there is little good evidence to support most such practices. A detailed and very useful new review of alternative therapies for arthritis in humans has just been released. And while extrapolation from humans to pets has dangers and has to be viewed with some skepticism, this at least gives us some guidance as to whether such therapies have proven their value for people, a question for which the evidence is usually much greater in quantity and quality than we often get for veterinary uses.

In super-brief: still no evidence for glucosamine/chondroitin in either humans or animals (though you’ll still get told by many you’re the Worst Dog Owner EVER if you don’t spend! spend! spend! on it anyway). Still some evidence for possible benefit in fish oil. And SAMe may improve functional mobility.

Read the whole brief & useful summary here.

My best strategy for Gilly, at this stage (eleven & a half year old lifelong athlete), seems to still be: keep him trim, keep him strong and well-muscled, decrease his high-impact running and diving and general crack-headedness about sticks and instead increase long, mellow walks and never-more-than-trot bike rides.

I also give him salmon oil in his food several times a week (because he likes it, it seems to be good for his coat, and it may or may not help in other ways), I make sure he gets a wide variety of delicious, balanced, and healthy foods and treats and all the other things that keep him happy, well-socialized, low-stress and well-rested.

When he inevitably topples in a rumpus or slips (something he used to have rubber-bones to deal with or prevent, but which now is more frequent as well as painful and consequential), I don’t make a big deal of it but rein him in and try to be mindful of minimizing the hazards of falls on ice or uneven ground. His joints just aren’t as flexible as they used to be, and sometimes – often, actually – he forgets that, so I try to remember for him.

Mostly, I have to remember that he’s mortal. And yes, I hate that. But my job is to protect and maintain his quality of life as best as I can, not to project magical thinking onto him – at the expense of more useful approaches – simply to make myself feel better.

This is beautiful. And useful.

Dogs to help mend hearts in Newtown

A team of golden retrievers made an 800-mile journey from the Chicago area to Newtown, Conn., over the weekend to comfort those affected by the recent school massacre.

Lutheran Church Charities deployed about 10 of the canines Saturday evening for residents who want to pet them while they talk or pray with the dog’s handler, said Tim Hetzner, president of the Addison-based organization.

“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” Hetzner said. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”

When the charities’ dogs are not responding to a national tragedy, they will often visit people in hospitals, nursing homes and parks. Each dog carries a business card with its name, Facebook page, twitter account and email so those that meet the canine can keep in touch

“The dogs have become the bridge,” said Lynn Buhrke, 66, who is a dog handler for a female golden retriever named Chewie. “People just sit down and talk to you.”

The dogs’ first stop Sunday in Newtown was Christ the King Lutheran Church, which is holding two funerals this week for two children who were slain during the shooting, Hetzner said.

“You could tell which ones …were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet,” Hetzner said. “They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet.”

The dogs have been helpful even to those without children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the massacre occurred Friday, organizers said.