A new study suggests the earliest domestic dogs weren’t just kept for hunting and protection, but for loving — a premise supported by evidence that some prehistoric pet owners actually outfitted their dogs in bling, if not before death, at least after it.
An analysis of ancient dog burials, published in PLoS ONE, found that deceased dogs were often laid to rest not just with respect, but with toys and ornaments, Jennifer Viegas reports on Discovery.com.
The findings show that, at least as recently as 10,000 years ago, dogs were valued for more than their ability to stand sentry and track game.
The researchers also say the earliest dog lovers were fish-eaters, and held spiritual beliefs. Subsisting on diets rich in seafood, they apparently didn’t rely on dogs to help them find dinner, or as dinner.
“Dog burials appear to be more common in areas where diets were rich in aquatic foods because these same areas also appear to have had the densest human populations and the most cemeteries,” Robert Losey, lead author of the study told Discovery News.
“If the practice of burying dogs was solely related to their importance in procuring terrestrial game, we would expect to see them in the Early Holocene (around 9,000 years ago), when human subsistence practices were focused on these animals,” Losey, a University of Alberta anthropologist, added. “Further, we would expect to see them in later periods in areas where fish were never really major components of the diet and deer were the primary focus, but they are rare or absent in these regions.”
For the study, Losey’s team researched dog burials worldwide, but focused particularly on ones located in Eastern Siberia. The earliest known domesticated dog was found there, dating to 33,000 years ago. Dog burials in the region are more recent, going back about 10,000 years.
They found that dogs were sometimes buried with meaningful items, sometimes even their human, showing that man’s bond with dog — while it may be ever-strengthening — goes way, way back.
According to the Discovery report:
“…One dog, for example, was laid to rest “much like it is sleeping.” A man was buried with two dogs, one carefully placed to the left of his body, and the other to the right. A dog was buried with a round pebble, possibly a toy or meaningful symbol, placed in its mouth. Still other dogs were buried with ornaments and implements, such as spoons and stone knives.
“One of the most interesting burials contains a dog wearing a necklace made out of four red deer tooth pendants. Such necklaces appear to have been a fashion and/or symbolic trend at the time, since people wore them too.”
The researchers found that most of the dog burials in the area occurred during the Early Neolithic era, about 8,000 years ago.
(Photo by Robert Losey, via Discovery.com)
Posted by jwoestendiek May 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bling, burial, death, dog, dogs, domesticated, earliest, fish, grieving, man, mourning, pets, prehistoric, research, robert losey, seafood, siberia, spirituality, study, univerisity of alberta, wolf
Over the weekend the entertainer posted pictures of her new Chihuahua mix, Bean, on Twitter.
“U know I’m a complete crazy dog lady so you could imagine what’s happening to me right now,”she tweeted.
Bean was adopted from Los Angeles’ Spot! dog rescue — the same organization to which she surrendered another dog, Ziggy, late last year.
Examiner.com found great significance in the act:
“As Miley Cyrus opened her home for the four legged creature out of the goodness of her own heart, it seems that other humans are thinking about adoption too. In what has become a teaching moment, it appears Miley Cyrus is actually showing people how much goodness is found in the process of adopting an animal.”
In November, Cyrus lost Lila, her two-year-old Yorkie, when Ziggy, a bulldog she bought for fiance Liam Hemsworth, killed the smaller dog. Ziggy was sent to a rescue organization to be rehomed.
Cyrus has adopted at least six dogs in recent years, including Floyd, an Alaskan Klee Kai, also known as a miniature husky, a Rottweiler-beagle mix named Happy, and a black and white mixed breed named Mary Jane.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animals, bean, celebrities, cyrus, death, dog, dogs, floyd, grieving, happy, lila, loss, mary jane, miley, miley cyrus, pets, rescue, spot dog rescue, ziggy
It’s a children’s story, centered around an aging boxer named Snort and the two children who love him.
But it’s a tale that applies to any grieving pet owner, serving to remind us, when that sad and difficult time comes, not to dwell on what you have lost but to celebrate the dog you got to have, and reflect on all he taught you.
In reasoned tones, and without relying once on that old fallback, ”The Rainbow Bridge,” it tells the story of a family that loses their dog, works through their grief and honors him in healthy and respectful ways.
The book centers on a boxer named Snort, and the two children, Savy and Sunne, who worry when he gets too sick to chase his ball.
Savy’s parents explain that Snort will need to leave their family because it’s the only way that Snort’s pain will go away.
Savy accepts that, but isn’t so sure how she will cope without her best friend.
In “Snort’s Special Gift,” Savy and her family explore different ways to grieve for and remember a beloved pet — from planting a tree in his memory to crafting tributes, like the one Savy composes in his honor.
In the end, Savy discovers that all the gifts Snort shared with her in life will, like his memory, always be there.
The author of the book, Suzann Yue, lives with her two adopted children and husband in Medina, Minnesota , where she coaches martial arts and is a photographer. She has won eight world karate championship titles, and started a karate school specializing in training children with attention deficit disorders.
The remarkable illustrations were done by Lin Wang, who received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Guangzhou Academy and a Masters degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and children.
(For all our news and reviews of dog books, visit our “Good Dog Reads“ page.)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beaver pond books, book, books, books on dogs, childrens book, death, dogs, gift, gifts, good dog reads, grief, grieving, lin wang, loss, mourning, pets, review, savy, snort, snorts special gift, sunne, suzann yue
This handsome boy is Brutus, estimated to be 10 years old, though he looks and acts much younger.
He was delivered Saturday by Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue to our friend Martha, who lives around the corner, and whose previous pug was once featured on these pages
Butch was one of the first dogs Ace met when we moved to Winston-Salem. He was 15 years old, blind, deaf and possibly had suffered a stroke, which would explain his tendency to veer in one direction. He died in November.
Martha said then she was going to get another dog soon, and that it would definitely be another pug.
But four months passed by.
For whatever reason — between the onset of winter, the loss of Butch, and some health problems of her own — we didn’t see Martha outside much after that.
Until a couple of weeks ago, when we started seeing her walking around the block again, without a dog.
Last week, she stopped at my door to give me the news. Her back problems were much better, and she’d applied to adopt a pug living in a Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue foster home in another part of the state.
A volunteer was scheduled to visit her for a home inspection, and Martha asked if I would be one of her references, which the organization also requires.
I was more than happy to do that, having seen not only the love she showed to Butch, but that she had that special kind of patience that seems to run through the veins of those who take in old and disabled dogs.
Brutus arrived Saturday, and though Martha had been told his hearing and eyesight may be fading, he seemed in possession of both.
She outfitted him in a purple leash and harness she had bought, and took him on a couple of spins through the neighborhood Saturday.
That night, he didn’t hesitate to sleep on her bed.
On Sunday, they took five walks — and real walks, as opposed to a the few minutes in the front yard that sufficed for Butch towards the end.
Martha says she has mistakenly called Brutus Butch a few times, just as she once called Butch by the same name of her pug before him, whose name also started with a “B.”
But Brutus was quick to leave his mark on the neighborhood — both in the way dogs normally do that, and through his own distinct personality.
Yesterday, they were going to the vet for a check-up.
I haven’t talked to Martha since then, but I suspect the vet diagnosed what I did — a new twinkle in both of their eyes.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, animals, bond, breeds, death, dog, dogs, grieving, loss, mid atlantic pug rescue, mourning, new dog, north carolina, pets, pug, pugs, rescue, shelters, winston-salem
The Learning Channel airs an hour-long special on pet cloning tonight that looks at three dog owners who sought laboratory-made replicas of their deceased pets.
Judging from the little I’ve seen of it, I think the piece is likely to reinforce the notion that dog lovers who seek to “bring back” their pets are a pretty determined, if not rabid, lot. That notion, as anyone who has read my book knows, isn’t far off the mark.
As shown in “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Dogs Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry,” the customers seeking clones, the South Korean scientists who worked to make dog cloning a reality, and those who marketed the service, all had one thing in common — a strong, sometime boundary-exceeding will to make it happen.
Tonight’s TLC special, “I Cloned My Pet,” focuses primarily on Danielle Tarantola, who has received one clone of her dog, Trouble, and expects to soon to take delivery of a second.
But I’m curious to see if — in addition to showing cute puppies — the show will give equal time to the less than cute, often downright ugly, side of dog cloning: such as deaths and deformities, and how many dogs it takes to produce a single clone; such as what happens to surplus clones who don’t come out exactly right; such as what goes on to happen to the egg donor and surrogate dogs after they make their contribution to creating a clone in South Korea.
Trouble died three years ago and his owner’s home in Staten Island is still a veritable shrine to the canine. Trouble’s face graces the walls, and the comforter on her bed, in which she sleeps, or slept, beside an urn of his ashes every night.
She’d even saved the last piece of chicken the 18-year-old dog nibbled on.
Tarantola got a big discount on her cloning bill from South Korea’s Sooam Institute in exchange for cooperating with the makers of the documentary, so we’ll have to wait and see how objective she, and it, are.
I’m told the report also includes the stories of two other customers intent on getting their dogs cloned, one of whom is a California man featured in my book. The other is a New Mexico woman who had her dog cloned even as she faced a prison sentence of a duration that will likely preclude her from spending much quality time with his replica.
“I Cloned My Pet” airs tonight at 9 p.m. on TLC.
You can catch a sneak peak of it at People Pets.
You can expect me to weigh in on it in days ahead.
(Photo: Snuppy, the world’s first canine clone / By John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 11th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, author, book, business, canine, clone, cloned, clones, cloning, danielle tarantola, death, documentary, dog, dog cloning, dog inc., dogs, grieving, i cloned my pet, john woestendiek, loss, marketing, pets, science, south korea, television, the learning channel, tlc, trouble, tv
While there’s much to scoff at when it comes to the industry that has blossomed around bidding farewell to our dead pets — especially those that promise life after death — I’m not quite ready to scoff at this idea.
In fact, I may even like the concept of turning your deceased dog into a tree.
But just so you can be sure I’m not shilling for the company behind this product, I would point out that you could probably do the same thing with your dog’s ashes without a special, fertilizer filled, biodegradable, $90 “Geos” urn.
The Geos urn — one of four offered by a company called Limbo Zoo — is designed to hold a pet’s ashes and serve as the medium in which a seedling (you supply it) can grow into a tree.
“The nutrients that conform this handcrafted earth-made urn combine with those of the fertile ashes to form a beautiful tree,” says the website.
The company also offers the “Nu” urn, which is made of sea salt and designed for burials at sea, and the “Samsara” urn, made of fine sand and designed for burials in fresh water, like a lake or river.
The urns are advertised as an environmentally responsible alternative and billed as both “durable,” and “biodegradable.” They’re designed to stay intact for a while, and then disintegrate over time.
The company is headquartered in Spain, and the urns are made there, but they have a U.S. distributor in Texas.
The Geos urns are made from a hardened organic compost and mineral soil bound with natural plant extracts. None of the urns include any animal products.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ashes, biodegradable, burial, compost, cremains, cremated, cremation, death, dog, funeral, geos, grieving, growth, industry, lake, life after death, limbo zoo, new life, nu, nutrients, ocean, pet, pet death, product, river, samsara, sand, sea, sea salt, seedling, tree, urns, water
I don’t do it often, but every now and then, when a dog I’ve had the fortune to connect with passes on, I post a little memorial, like this one for Butch, a pug who lived down the road.
Butch’s human, Martha, had to have him put down last week.
Ace and I would run into Butch pretty regularly on our walks around the block since we moved into the neighborhood a few months back.
Usually, we’d see them not far from their front yard, because Butch, at 15, stayed pretty close to home. In addition to possibly having had some strokes and other health problems, he was also blind. And deaf.
He still had life in him, though. A few times, I saw him get playful, with Ace and once with another dog. Even though he couldn’t see them, he’d do a slow spin and do his best to get into a play stance.
But he’d always stop, wagging his tail even before I reached down to scratch him, as if he somehow knew it was coming.
A while back, when she was having back problems, Martha let me take him for a walk along with Ace. She explained the basics to me: Pull up on his leash to support when when he’s going up or down a curb. Try not to let him walk into a telephone pole. But if he does, don’t worry. He’s a resilient little fellow who has gotten good at absorbing the bumps life brings our way.
That resiliency came to an end last week. Seeing her dog constantly panting, losing control of his bowels, getting right up into her face and staring at her as if to send a message, she knew the time had come.
Martha told me the news on Friday night.
I said the words we say at times like those — always inadequate, but even moreso in her case, for I’d seen the strong bond between them, the joy he brought her, and the fine home she provided for Butch.
Feeling not the least bit helpful, I went home and got a copy of my book, “DOG, INC.,” which, while it relates to dog death, is definitely not feel-good, Rainbow-Bridge, chicken-soup type reading.
Instead, it looks at the ever-strengthening bond between people and their dogs, and the extremes humans sometimes go to after they lose a pet — focusing on the newest and most technologically dazzling of those: cloning.
Martha, I know, would never clone her dog, and, if you’ve read the book, you know I would never suggest it. Martha, pained as she was by Butch’s death, didn’t seem to be going over the edge, and I guess I wanted to give her the book because I admired that.
From our short talk Friday night, she seemed to be handling it, probably better than I would. She seemed to have the right approach — focusing not on the loss, not on herself, but on the happy times the two shared. Happy memories beat a stuffed version of your dog, jewelry made from his ashes, or a laboratory-created genetic replica any day, at least as I see it.
It doesn’t make it easy, but I think that having experienced all you can with your dog, having fully appreciated your dog during his or her life, can somewhat blunt the pain of his or her death — knowing the two of you, and that bond, became all it could be. That seemed to be the case with Martha.
I signed the book, “In memory of Butch, a dog savored in life and lovingly remembered in death — as it should be.”
I rang her doorbell and yelled at Ace to sit down — for he tries to enter any door that opens — and when Martha saw him she said, “Oh perfect!”
When your dog dies, decisions have to be made about what to keep and what to jettison. A favorite toy might be comforting to hang on to, but there are some things painful to look at, like the lingering treats that he or she will never be served. It hurts to see it. It hurts to throw it away.
“I’ve got some bacon I was saving for Butch,” she said. “I’d really appreciate it if Ace would eat it.”
I accepted the package, neatly wrapped in tin foil, and carried it down the sidewalk as Ace jumped up and down next to me, acting anything but mournful. I don’t think he paused for a millisecond to appreciate the significance of the bacon. To him, bacon needs no added significance. He gobbled all three strips down, barely chewing, and kept bouncing up and down beside me even when I told him it was gone.
From a dog who had dispensed much of it in his 15 years, it was like one final dose of joy, courtesy of Butch.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, blind, bond, butch, connection, deaf, death, dogs, euthanized, grieving, health, ill, in memory, losing a pet, love, memorial, mourning, neighbor, north carolina, old dogs, pets, pug, put down, sick dogs, strokes, winston-salem
Ever since his owner died, Kirby has been running away.
He has been passed from home to home because of that bad habit.
Recently, it was discovered where Kirby might have been going — the gravesite of his former owner, Sharon Rattery.
“There’s no other way to explain it really, he’s just sad and lonely and misses his mom,” said Dave Wills, Rattery’s grandson.
Sharon Rattery inherited the dog from her daughter, Susan, who passed away just two weeks after bringing him home in 2003, according to this NBC report.
She was said to spoil Kirby, and her other dogs, too. They were at her side when she passed away in April.
“She’s had him since he was a little puppy so it’s got to be pretty hard on him,” Wills said of Kirby. “He hasn’t been the same since my grandma died,” Wills said.
At Kirby’s latest home, he recently escaped again — and was found to have wandered several miles to the graveyard where Sharon and her daughter Susan are buried side by side, and where Kirby had attended both funerals.
“I’ve never seen a pet come up to visit a grave, just people,” said Matthew Cadaret, who works as the grounds foreman at the Atascadero Cemetery and found the dog.
Sharon’s grandson said they are trying to find Kirby a new home, preferably with a senior.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, atascadero, california, cemetery, death, dog, dogs, grave, gravesite, grieving, kirby, loyalty, mourning, pets, runaway, sharon rattery, vigil
A dog friend we told you about during our travels was put down last week, at precisely 1:45 a.m. on Friday, after some long goodbyes from his family — George and Kathleen, who bid him farewell at the vet’s office in Virginia, and their daughter Elizabeth, who had a final talk with him via cellphone from California.
Puck was six weeks shy of turning 18.
Blind and deaf for the past two years, with one eye surgically removed, and diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Puck persevered — and did so with dignity, despite the diapers he wore and the daily shots he had to receive.
After months of wondering how they would know when it was time, they knew it was time.
The veterinary staff sent them to a room where they could say their goodbyes. They hugged him, cried a lot, and fed him turkey breast. He wagged his tail. They placed a call to their daughter in California and held the cell phone to Puck’s ear as she said goodbye.
Elizabeth was 7 when they got Puck, and she came up with the name — as in pucker up — because he liked to kiss. She’s 24 now.
A neighbor offered them the dog back then, describing the pup as a poodle. He didn’t look much like a poodle at all. That didn’t matter. They raised and taught Puck, and when he grew old, he, as dogs will do, taught them a thing or two, by example.
Puck was toted upstairs every night, carried downstairs every morning. Despite all his medical issues, the suspected strokes, the epilepsy, Puck was a stoic little guy. He never whined.
Despite all the inconveniences, the diapers, the shots, the veterinary bills, neither did Kathleen and George.
Near the end, Puck didn’t do much more than eat, sleep and cuddle.
Still, George noted, “It’s amazing the void there is now that he’s gone.”
Rest in peace, Puck.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aging dogs, america, animals, dead, death, dogs, dying, elderly dogs, goodbye, grieving, illness, in memory, medicine, mixed breed, old dogs, pets, poodle, puck, road trip, saying goodbye, terrier, travels with ace, veterinary, void
Yesterday we brought you slow-motion dogs. Today we’ll take a look at no-motion dogs — those whose owners like to keep them around, even after death.
As the first episode of “The Marriage Ref” showed, the practice is seen by some, perhaps most, as horrific, while still others consider it a fitting tribute to their pet.
The new show, a Jerry Seinfeld creation that premiered this week, included a segment on a marital spat over a husband’s decision — over his wife’s objections — to “stuff” his deceased Boston Terrier, Fonzie.
The show’s resident fact checker reported that only about 1,000 people a year have their pets “stuffed,” and its panel of “experts,” which included Seinfeld, Kelly Ripa and Alec Baldwin, all sided with the wife in the dispute, concluding that the practice was bizarre and Fonzie shouldn’t be displayed, shrine-like, in the couple’s home.
With that, the husband agreed to move Fonzie to the attic, which is where a lot of “stuffed” animals end up.
The show didn’t get into the specifics of how Fonzie was preserved after death, instead just using the misnomer “stuffed.” But apparently he was freeze-dried, an increasingly common technique being used by taxidermists and others — and at a rate that I think probably exceeds that reported by the “fact-checker,” NBC News reporter Natalie Morales.
I did some research into the practice in connection with my forthcoming book about dog cloning, looking back at the days when “stuffed” animals really were stuffed, the more modern form of “mounting” or stretching their pelts over a plastic form, and the more modern yet version, freeze-drying.
As part of my research, I interviewed Chris Calagan in West Virginia, owner of Perpetual Pet, which has been freeze drying pets since 2002, when he and his wife started with their own cat, Naomi.
Posing the pet and removing the moisture in his freeze drying machine is a process that can take months, depending on the pet’s size, Calagan explained to me.
“We don’t put a hole in it. It’s just through osmosis, very gradual, like drying an orange,” he said. “The moisture comes out through the peeling.”
Freeze drying is the latest variation of a practice that goes back to Victorian times, and one to which many have turned over the years.
Stubby, a pit bull who was the most decorated dog of World War I, was stuffed after his death and displayed at the Smithsonian.
When cowboy star Roy Rogers’ horse, Trigger, died in 1965 at age 33, the Rogers family had him mounted, his skin stretched over a plastic mold, posed proudly in the position of a horse at its liveliest – reared up on its hind legs. Trigger became the main draw at the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans Museum. The Rogers also had Dale Evans’ horse, Buttermilk, and their German shepherd, Bullet, mounted to become museum pieces. Rogers, before his death in 1998, joked about having his own body “stuffed” and placed atop his rearing horse, but he never actually pursued that.
More recently, the mounted pet returned to popular culture in the television show “Scrubs,” in which a lifeless dog named Rowdy had a recurring role.
To some, it’s far to creepy a thing to ever consider. Others pursue it precisely because it is so quirky. But the majority of pet owners do it because of a sincere wish to keep a beloved dog around — in a state they can view and touch.
As with cloning, those who have done it might face a certain amount of ridicule, but, more often than not, they don’t care what anybody else thinks. In fact, they’d probably have two words for those who judge them: Stuff it.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 5th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alec baldwin, animals, coping, dogs, fonzie, grieving, jerry seinfeld, kelly ripa, mounting, mounts, mourning, perception, perpetual pet, pet death, pets, popular culture, public, reality, rowdy, roy rogers, scrubs, stubby, stuffed, stuffing, taxidermy, television, the marriage ref, trigger, tv