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Five-year-old Vietnamese girl finds her dog, roasted, at roadside meat market

vietgirl

A photo of a five-year-old Vietnamese girl who reportedly found her missing pet dog at a roadside market — roasted and on display in a flat woven basket — has gone viral, leading to new-found furor over the age-old tradition of eating dog in some Asian countries.

The story behind the photo is only loosely documented. The Daily Mail reports, without attribution, that the girl lives in the countryside of north Vietnam, and that she had raised the dog, named Flower, for three years.

vietnam2A few days after Flower went missing, the girl was walking by a street market and saw what she thought was Flower, roasted and with her paws removed.

“That’s Flower,” the girl reportedly cried as she rushed over to the dog.

The photo has gone viral, leading to renewed calls for ending the practice — among some in Korea, China and Vietnam — of eating dog meat.

While most of the meat comes from farm-raised dogs, runaways and stray dogs often end up at the roadside markets.

The photo was posted on a social media website initially, and has since been widely shared and picked up by the news media (though few media outlets seem to have done any actual reporting).

Interestingly, some media outlets are shielding their readers from seeing the image in full. The Daily Mail, for example, showed the entire photo, but, for some reason, saw fit to blur out the dog’s face. Others warn readers of graphic images ahead, or make you click a few more times before viewing the full image. Few seem to have done any actual reporting

That strikes me as hypocritical, and as a bit of a tease, and as contrary to the mission of the news media, which is not to shield us from going on, but to show us what’s going on — with un-blurred photos and un-blurred facts.

Amazing feet: Pawless dog in Colorado gets around on four prosthetic legs

A dog in Colorado is learning to get around on four prosthetic paws.

Brutus, a two-year-old Rottweiler, lost all four paws after suffering frostbite, and the amputations are said to have been performed by the breeder who owned him.

Last September, after being taken in by a foster mother, he was outfitted with two rear paws, followed a couple of months later by two prosthetic front paws.

While his gait may still look a little awkward, the prosthetics — made by OrthoPets of Denver — have enabled him to get around outside.

“It’s not always pretty. We want to be able to give him a higher function, where he can run and play with other dogs, go on hikes,” foster mom Laura Aquilina, of Loveland, told KDVR.

Brutus is reported to be only the second dog ever known to have four prosthetic limbs.

“Brutus is an amazing case of a beautiful dog who was dealt a short hand, said Martin Kauffman, founder of OrthoPets. “He can get out and do normal doggy things. And it just makes you feel so good.”

The company makes prosthetics for about 250 animals worldwide a year.

If not for dogs, we’d all be Neanderthals

evolution

There’s no question humans played a major — you could even say heavy-handed — role in the evolution of dogs.

But might dogs and their predecessors have played an equally significant role in our’s?

invadersA new book by Pennsylvania State University anthropologist Pat Shipman, “The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction,” suggests that having wolves/dogs on our side allowed humans to survive while Neanderthals went extinct.

(Well, maybe not totally extinct; I know at least two.)

In reality, most humans today — thanks to long-ago couplings between humans and Neanderthals — have anywhere from one to four percent of Neanderthal genes in their systems. (Those genes, I suspect, are responsible for making us tailgate, become bodybuilders and cut in line.) 

Neanderthals lived, evolved and pretty much ruled for about 250,000 years. After humans came along, about 40,000 years ago, the numbers of Neanderthals declined, then vanished, falling victim, some think, to the superior intellect, skills and weapons of early humans.

Shipman agrees with that theory, but argues humans having wolves on their side was a critical factor.

Neanderthals, the author says, never buddied up with the wolf, while humans would go on to form an alliance with them, tame them, breed them and assign them the kind of tasks that helped with survival — like hunting, guarding and chasing away enemies.

Given dogs were once thought to have been domesticated only 10,000 to 15,000 years ago — long after Neanderthals and humans had it out — little attention was paid to what, if any role, they might have played in the conflict.

But newer evidence, suggesting the domestication of dog goes back 25,000, 35,000, or even more than 100,000 years ago, lends credence to the conclusion dogs were a factor in the survival of our species.

It’s all pretty fascinating stuff — from whence we came, from whence dog came, and how, when and why we seemingly became allies.

But, other than the fact that knowing how our species has managed to survive this long might help it continue to do so, I’m not sure how relevant it is to modern times — unless, as one writer semi-playfully suggests in a piece for WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, how much an individual likes or dislikes dogs is related to the amount of Neanderthal within.

“Depending on the individual, you might just wonder if dog loving might be an indicator of the ratio of Neanderthal genes you’ve got,” Vicki Croke wrote on the WBUR blog, “The Wild Life.” She quotes Lauren Slater, author of  “The $60,000 Dog:”

“What this may mean: all those ‘not dog’ people, the ones who push away the paws and straighten their skirts after being sniffed, well, they may have one foot in the chromosomally compromised Neanderthal pool,” Slater wrote, while dog lovers “may be displaying not idiocy or short-sighted sentimentality, as our critics would call it, but a sign of our superior genetic lineage.”

So the next time some small foreheaded, prim and proper, club-carrying type asks that you keep your dog away from them, by all means comply, but feel free to mutter under your breath as you walk away:

“What a Neanderthal!”

So he ain’t no Willie Mays

He isn’t exactly adept at catching airborne snacks in his mouth. Does that mean Fritz the Golden retriever should be made a laughingstock?

Probably not, but welcome to the Internet age, in which dogs (and humans) are more likely to become famous not for doing something right, but for doing something wrong — and the more “epic” the fail the better.

This video was posted on YouTube last week, and since has been reposted on major media websites, and broadcast on TV, like yesterday’s Today Show — all but guaranteeing it will go viral.

We hesitated before even posting it, because in a way we see it as laughing “at” Fritz, who, for all we know, might have a vision problem or other disability.

But we admire his persistence, and the look of determination in his eyes. We admire that far more than we admire the owner, and — assuming Fritz is eating everything thrown at him after it lands on the ground — the unhealthy diet he is providing his dog.

Fritz flubs it when he tries to catch, among other food items, a donut, a slice of pizza, a hot dog (on bun, with mustard), a chimichanga and more.

Not until the very end does he manage to catch an item — what appears to be a french fry.

The YouTube post provides few details, so we can only hope this was videotaped over time, as opposed to all in one day — for the sake of Fritz’s stomach, and his owner’s carpeting.

Kiss me, you dog (I need the probiotics)

Before you wipe off that next dog kiss — not that too many ohmidog! readers are the sort that do that — you might want to think about this:

Some of those doggy bacteria that dog-disliking alarmists and hand-wringing medical types are always warning us about might actually be good for you.

As with Greek yogurt and kimchee, some of the microbes lurking in a dog’s gut could have a probiotic effect on the owners’ body, aiding in both digestion and overall health.

Researchers at the University of Arizona are now seeking volunteers to take part in a study to prove just that — and here’s the coolest part: Volunteers, if they want, can keep the shelter dog assigned to them when the study is done.

The “Dogs as Probiotics” study will focus specifically on the effect dogs have on the health of older people — in terms of physical well-being, mental well-being and cognitive functioning.

kelly“We already know that dogs make us happier and in some ways healthier. The main point of this study is to try and understand whether or not there is an actual biological component behind this,” Kim Kelly, a UA doctoral student in medical anthropology, and one of the study’s primary investigators,
told the Arizona Daily Star.

“This has the potential to change the field in terms of how we understand, think about and use microbes to improve our health,” she said.

The study team is recruiting adults over the age of 50 and asking them to live with a dog from the Humane Society of Southern Arizona for three months.

Both the human and canine subjects will undergo tests of an non-invasive sort during the study to determine whether or not the positive microbes in the humans increase, and whether it correlates with improved immune measures in older adults.

Probiotics are often referred as “good” or “helpful” bacteria. They can help keep the intestines healthy, assist in digesting food, and are believed to help the immune system.

Kelly, along with researchers at the University of San Diego and the University of Colorado, will explore whether living with a dog encourages the growth of positive micro organisms in the human gut.

“We essentially want to find out, is a dog acting like yogurt in having a probiotic effect,” she said.

In addition, researchers will monitor participants for any changes in the mental health and emotional well-being.

Once the scientists are done, human participants will have the option of keeping the dog they kept in their home during the study.

We’re guessing that — whether their digestion has improved or not — most of them will.

Who wouldn’t want someone who has been kissing them for three months to hang around?

(Video: Attendees at the SPCA of Maryland’s March for the Animals, 2009, receiving some free probiotics from my dog Ace; photo: Kim Kelly and her cocker spaniel Katie, courtesy of Kim Kelly)

Is missing Maltese being held for ransom?

bella2When a woman stopped her car a week ago to pick up a Maltese mix who’d wandered away from her family’s yard and into an intersection, it appeared to be the act of a good Samaritan.

Then the family got a phone call that indicated otherwise.

The caller, who claimed to have picked up their lost dog at a Durham, N.C., intersection, asked if there was a reward, and hung up when the answer didn’t please her.

The phone call was made six days ago, and the woman hasn’t called back since, according to the owners of Bella.

“She said she had the dog and asked about money and if we had a reward,” recalled Caroline Wilgen. “I said yes, but we hadn’t decided how much and she hung up.”

Bella, a white Maltese-poodle mix, wandered off last Wednesday as her owner unloaded groceries. She made it to the intersection of Cornwallis and Pickett Road.

“Several cars stopped when she tried to cross the road and the person who was closest to the dog scooped it up and then tried to put it in her car,” Wilgen told WTVD.

The next day Bella’s family received the phone call from a woman who said she had found the owner’s contact information on the dog’s collar.

“We received a call Thursday, around 8:00 pm, from the young woman who picked Bella up,” Wilgen’s husband wrote on his blog. “She said that Bella got into her car voluntarily. She sounded a little worried she may be in trouble. … We have hoped she would call back, but so far, nothing.

“We really hope she calls. We are not trying to get her in trouble, we just want Bella home. Maybe a neighbor or friend will recognize Bella and encourage her to do the right thing.”

Wilgen adopted Bella two years ago,  driving seven hours to pick the dog up from a shelter in Tennessee, where she’d been dropped off with matted fur and rotting teeth.

Now Bella needs to be rescued again.

“She’s already been through a lot so if we could bring her home, that’d be great,” Wilgen said.

How a dog sees a rainbow

SONY DSC

Dogs aren’t truly color blind, but they do see a lesser range of hues than humans do.

They may have better hearing than us, and be far superior to us at sniffing things out, but when it comes to seeing rainbows they don’t have as much to get excited about as we do.

Dogs have only two types of cone cells, which are responsible for color vision, enabling them to see blue and yellow — and their various mixes.

Most of us humans have three different types of cone cells, allowing us to see red, green and blue, and all combinations of those colors.

As this graphic from the Washington Post’s Wonkblog shows, dogs miss out on reds and oranges and generally enjoy a less vivid spectrum of colors.

rainbow

But before you start feeling superior, consider that we’re probably not seeing all there is to see in a rainbow, either.

Butterflies may have up to five cone receptors, while the mantis shrimp has 12. They are fluttering around, or swimming around, seeing colors we’ve never seen.

(Imagine what a butterfly shrimp might see, if it weren’t breaded and fried.)

Quick science lesson: Colors are just different wavelengths of visible light, so the color of an object depends on what kinds of light it absorbs and reflects. What bounces back and hits our eyes is processed by our brain. Then and only then can we pronounce that the sky is blue, or that the dress is black and blue, or white and gold.

dressHumans on the Internet (which are slightly different than humans) recently spent weeks debating whether a dress shown in a picture was blue with black fringe, or white with gold fringe.

And everyone of them — unlike shrimp, butterflies and dogs — was absolutely sure that what they saw was right.

While other species may have more finely honed senses of smell, sight and sound, we humans have a much more refined sense of smugness, and we lead all species when it comes to the senses — or are they sins? — of pride, envy and greed.

That’s why,  when it comes to rainbows, many of us are most concerned with the pot of gold (or is it blue?) that’s at the end of it.

I’ve given up on finding that, but I would, just once, like to see a rainbow as a butterfly does.

As for that dress, the fact that its color was more debated by women than men isn’t too surprising.

Not only are women less affected by colorblindness (because the genes encoding red and green receptors are located on the X-chromosome, of which men only have one and women have two), but they also have a higher potential of being “tetrachromats” – people with four types of color receptor cells instead of three.

Though the evidence remains inconclusive, some researchers believe this fourth receptor allows tetrachromats to see a wider range of colors.

I’m not sure if consensus was ever reached in the great dress debate, and I don’t really care.

But if you simply must have a final answer, ask a shrimp.

(Photos: Ace at Salvation Mountain in California, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; graphic from the Washington Post; photo of dress from ABC News)


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