Throw a dog who has never gone swimming into a pool and, pretty much instantly, he’ll start moving his four legs in a series of motions we’ve come to call the dog paddle.
Throw a human who has never gone swimming into a pool and — though the possibilities are much higher for helpless flailing about, cussing, drowning, or becoming traumatized for life — he may eventually come to his senses enough to try and work his way back to the side of the pool. He’ll do so not using a butterfly stroke, breast stroke or Australian crawl, but by doing what dogs do.
The dog paddle: It’s seemingly instinctual. It’s primitive. And though we humans mostly outgrow it, it remains sort of the default mode of propelling ourselves through water.
Just how primitive it may be is under investigation by Dr. Frank Fish, a professor of biology at West Chester University who — maybe because of his name, maybe not — has spent most of his career studying how marine mammals swim.
Most recently, he has been studying the swimming motions of dogs, and he has concluded that they are very similar to the motions dogs use in trotting. That explains the ease with which most dogs can make the transition from land to water — requiring no lessons, and (generally) little coaxing: They basically propel themselves the same way in water as they do on land.
That their stride and strokes are nearly identical is interesting in itself, but Fish thinks it could also help explain how whales and dolphins ended up in the ocean.
Fish subscribes to the theory that marine mammals were intitially four-legged land dwellers who ventured into the water one day (likely dog paddling at first), decided they liked it better there, then evolved into such super swimmers that they no longer needed legs, or, for that matter, land.
He borrowed a swimming pool used to rehabilitate horses at the University of Pennsylvania.
Analyzing the video, Fish and fellow researchers saw that dogs swim much like they run — with diagonal pairs of legs churning in unison, according to Science Daily. Fish presented his findings at the 2014 Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting in Austin.
While there’s plenty of dog research we’d categorize as a silly waste of time, we find all this pretty intriguing.
First, it reminds us that practice makes perfect — to think that long, long ago there might have been a couple of four-legged dolphins who didn’t know how to swim, hesitating at the edge of the water: “I dunno, it looks dangerous … should we go in?”
Second, in an era when we’re increasingly relying on computers to do our thinking for us, it serves as a warning that those muscles we don’t use can disappear. It raises a host of interesting questions about our future, and our past.
Why is it we humans tend to dog paddle in our first encounters with water? Is that some sort of instinctual nod to a past when we got about on four legs, instead of two?
If cavemen had spent more time at the swimming hole, might we homo sapiens have evolved into something more amphibious?
Given that, might mermaids really exist?
It’s kind of inspiring to think there might have been a day when dolphins, the planet’s most graceful swimmers, were total klutzes in the water — that they started off splashing about with some awkward looking dog paddling and progressed to the point where they could actually leap out of the water.
It reminds us that, maybe, anything is possible with enough hard work — even when it comes to behaviors we might think are genetic and therefore unchangeable. Do we sometimes wear our genes too tightly, and allow them to restrict us from leaping into new things, and getting over old ones?
We wish Fish luck in unraveling how four-legged terrestrial forms evolved into no-legged, finned ones. And as long as the dogs involved in his research are having a good time – given Fish is letting his own dog be used in the study, we assume they are – we have no problem with them helping the professor prove his point.
In other words: Go Fish!
(Top Photo, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology; bottom photo, from the book Underwater Dogs)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 16th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, biology, dog paddle, dogs, dolphins, evolution, frank fish, genes, genetics, instinct, land, legs, mammals, marine, motions, movement, nature, research, science, study, swim, swimmers, swimming, water, west chester university, whales
Sen. Don Vaughan, a Greensboro Democrat, filed what he dubbed “Chamberlin’s Law” on the opening day of the General Assembly session, according to the Greensboro News-Record.
The bill would allow criminal charges to be brought against pet owners who “recklessly” neglect their pets, as opposed to the current law, which allows just those accused of doing so “maliciously” or “intentionally” to be prosecuted.
“They’re living things,” Vaughan said of dogs. “And they’re different from having a desk or a chair. They’re actually living beings in God’s world, and we ought to take care of them at least to a minimum standard.”
The bill has been named after Chamberlin, a black and white pit bull mix who was severely neglected — left in a backyard in High Point among tall weeds along with another dog. The other dog, who had been tethered, became so sick it had to be euthanized. Chamberlin was in bad shape, as well.
“His front legs had fused together,” said Marsha Williams, executive director of the Guilford County Animal Shelter. He was unable to walk when he arrived at the shelter in December, but was still wagging his tail, she said.
Since then he has put on weight and in coming weeks he will be fitted with a wheelchair to support the weight of his front legs, which no longer function.
The dog’s care was paid for with donations, some of which came from a fund established in the name of Susie — a dog that was beaten and lit on fire. The judge refused to sentence the perpetrator in that case to jail time because it was his first offense. The public outcry that followed led to ”Susie’s Law,” which increased the penalties for animal cruelty and gave judges discretion to sentence even first-time offenders to active jail time in certain cases.
The owner of Chamberlin is facing charges in Guilford County court, but under current laws, prosecutors will have to prove the dog’s owners intentionally or maliciously let him waste away.
Chamberlin’s law would switch that standard to “recklessly,” which is easier to prove.
In addition to making cruelty cases easier to prosecute, the bill also would set minimum standards for the shelter that dogs must have if they are kept outside and give judges the power to seize animals and order psychiatric evaluations in animal neglect and cruelty cases.
Sen. Austin Allran, a Hickory Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee to which the measure has been assigned, said the bill could face an uphill battle. In the past, hunting and dog breeding groups have fought similar measures.
(Photo: Nelson Kepley / Greensboro News-Record)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, chamberlin, chamberlin's law, dog, dogs, don vaughan, fused, general assembly, greensboro, high point, law, legislation, legislature, legs, neglect, north carolina, pets, proposal, proposed, senator, susie's law
Lovebug needs some love.
The 13-week old pup was struck by a car on a Missouri Interstate highway.
She suffered in the tall grass for a day, before working up the energy to lift her head. A firefighter and his wife, passing by, saw her and stopped, wrapping her in his firefighter’s jacket and taking her to a local veterinarian.
There she was found to have two fractured legs and a broken pelvis — injuries that will require the installation of pins and plates, and cost about $2,000.
“She has charmed everyone with her zest for life and determined attitude. We are a non-profit organization and any help you can give would be greatly appreciated,” writes Cheri Zaiger, of American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue. “I just know if other people could see her face and hear her story some donations would come in to help her out of this devastating situation,” Zaiger added. The website has a box that can be clicked on to make donations.
American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue helps all types of coonhounds – Black and Tans, Redbones, Blue Ticks, Red Ticks, Tennessee Tree Walkers. It rescues most of them from kill shelters, keeps them in foster care and seeks to find permanent homes for them.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, adopt, american black and tan coonhound rescue, animals, black and tan, blue ticks, broken, car, coon dogs, coondogs, coonhounds, dogs, emergency, highway, hit, interstate, legs, lovebug, medical, ohmidog!, pelvis, pets, red ticks, redbones, rescue, shelter, struck, surgery, tennessee tree walkers, veterinary
A team of 40 vets and nurses, working around the clock for over two months, helped reassemble a three-year-old dog named Ruby after she was hit by a car.
After a series of operations at a cost of £11,500, Ruby, who remained cheerful and upbeat throughout the ordeal, is recovering, according to the Daily Mail.
Ruby suffered fractures to her two front legs, sternum and toe, a dislocated knee, ruptured ligaments and internal bleeding when she was struck by the car on January 26.
Because she did not have any head injuries, the vets said if she could live through the next 24 hours she had a good chance.
“Her legs will take about five months to heal totally but in herself she is happy, sweet-natured and an inspiration to the rest of us,” said her owner, Vanessa Gillespie. ”The vet said he had never seen a dog so broken still so happy. Most dogs would not have survived but Ruby is a toughie.’
Ruby was run over in the village of Cambourne in Cambridgeshire.
She spent five weeks at Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital in Cambridge, and had two major operations — first a nine-hour procedure in which her broken legs were repaired using four metal plates and screws, then a seven-hour operation to replace the ruptured knee ligaments, carry out skin grafts and amputate the broken toe. The fractured breastbone and internal bleeding were left to heal naturally.
Gillespie said most of the bill was covered by insurance. “If she had not been insured we would have had to put her down,” she said.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, broken, car, dislocated, dogs, fractured, healing, hit, injured, insurance, insured, knee, legs, news, ohmidog!, operations, pets, queen's veterinary school hospital, reassembled, recovery, ruby, severely, sternum, surgry, survival, survived, team, vanessa gillespie, veterinarians, veterinary
When Avi Kozi, chairman of the Society for the Protection of Animals in Israel, adopted a dog born without its front legs, he hoped the dog might learn to walk on his hind legs, as did Faith, a two-legged in the United States.
When he didn’t, Kozi arranged for Hoppa to get a set of wheels, built by a student.
“From the moment I took him to my house, I knew I had to build something that would help him to move,” Kozi told Channel 10 at his home in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
Hoppa lives with six other dogs – all of them were taken in by Kozi after they’d been severely injured. Hoppa was born four years ago, and vets said only way to prevent him from suffering would be to put him to sleep.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: avi kozi, disability, dog, dogs, faith, handicapped, hoppa, israel, legs, pets, society for the protection of animals, tel aviv, two legged dog, two-legged, video
Coming up on his first birthday, Scooby-Roo has come a long way since he was found five months ago — with no front legs, living with his sister in a wrecked car in a gang-ridden neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
His first break came when a good samaritan picked him and his sister up. His second came when they were taken in by Fuzzy Rescue. Since then, his story has led to offers of help from Demi Moore, Alyssa Milano, Michael Jackson’s children and many others.
Today, still under the care of Fuzzy Rescue, he has a therapist and a personal trainer and can look forward to a masseuse and acupuncturist, the Associated Press reports.
Not long after Roo arrived at Fuzzy Rescue in Santa Monica — caked in blood from scooting around on the asphalt — the non-profit organization’s director, Sheila Choi send out mass emails looking for donations and other support.
After that, celebrities began tweeting about Roo, from Demi Moore to Shannon Elizabeth. Alyssa Milano saw a YouTube video of the dog and called Choi, promising to help any way she could. Michael Jackson’s children, Prince and Paris, saw a TV report about Roo and began raising money to help out.
With the celebrity help, Choi collected $2,000 for a set of custom wheels for Roo, who is believed to have been born without legs.
On Valentine’s Day, appropriately enough, this sweetheart of a dog turns one.
Here’s an updated report on Scooby-Roo from Fuzzy Rescue:
Posted by John Woestendiek February 12th, 2010 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: abandoned, alyssa milano, animals, birthday, celebrities, challenged, demi moore, dog, dogs, emails, first, front legs, fuzzy rescue, gangs, handicapped, legs, los angeles, michael jackson, missing, paris, pets, prince, rescue, roo, santa monica, scooby-roo, shannon elizabeth, sheila choi, south central, therapist, trainer, tweets, twitter, two-legged, valentines day
The kindness of strangers has gotten Ozzie a long way. Now the Great Pyrenees — abandoned as a pup — is ready for his next big step.
Ozzie was one of three pups abandoned by a breeder. For five months, they wandered North Carolina’s coast, until a stranger coralled them and called Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue.
The rescue’s president Martha Rehmeyer, of Winston-Salem, took the three brothers in.
The dogs were dirty and emaciated, didn’t trust people, and had never worn collars. They were also big — the gentle breed commonly surpasses the 100-pound mark.
Rehmeyer and other volunteers spent months training and socializing the pets and, once that was accomplished, Ozzie’s brothers, Big Um and Titan, quickly found adoptive homes.
But Ozzie didn’t, mainly because he walked funny – like a duck, Rehmeyer explained to the Winston-Salem Journal. His back paws splayed out at 90-degree angles. X-rays showed that the knee ligaments in his back legs weren’t properly developed. Ozzie underwent surgery on his right leg, to insert a pin that would hold his knee in place, and thereby straighten out one of his paws. A few months later he had the same surgery on his left leg. He’s now staying temporarily in Greensboro with a foster mom, Susan Tanzer, who calls him a “bionic” dog. The rescue organization is seeking a forever home for him.
Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue charges a $250 adoption fee for each dog, an amount meant to cover the cost of spaying or neutering, as well as house training and socializing the animals for adoption.
Rehmeyer wouldn’t divulge how much Ozzie’s surgeries cost, saying that wasn’t important. “We do it for the love of the breed, for the love of the dogs.”
To learn about Ozzie and the rescue’s other dogs, visit its website.
(Photo courtesy of Carolina Great Pyrenees Rescue)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animals, big, bionic, carolina great pyrenees rescue, dog, dogs, duck, funny, great pyrenees, knee, large, legs, ligaments, malformed, martha rehmeyer, north carolina, ozzie, paws, pets, pin, pyr, pyrs, rescue, stray, surgery, veterinarian, veterinary, walked, white
Faith, the two-legged dog, continues to spread inspiration — most recently last weekend when she visited McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis in Washington state.
Faith met thousands of soldiers — some headed to war, some coming back.
“She just walks around barking and laughing and excited to see them all,” Faith’s owner, Jude Stringfellow, told the Associated Press.
“There is a lot of crying, pointing and surprise. From those who have lost friends or limbs, there can be silence. Some will shake my hand and thank me, some will pat her on the head. There is a lot of quiet, heartfelt, really deep emotion.”
Faith, a Lab-chow mix, was born to a junkyard dog around Christmas of 2002. Her mother rejected her and she was rescued by Jude Stringfellow’s son, Rueben, now in the Army. The mother and son taught the dog to walk on her rear legs — using peanut butter and a lot of practice.
Since then Faith has done the talk show circuit, and Stringfellow has become a motivational speaker. She has written two books about Faith and is working on a third, “Faith Walks.”
They get more than 200 letters and e-mails a day, run a website and make dozens of appearances every year, including stops at veterans’ hospitals across the country to cheer injured soldiers.
Rueben Stringfellow left Iraq in September and is stationed in Alaska. He is scheduled to get out of the Army and head home on Jan. 1.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: air force, army, base, chow, coping, disabilities, dog, faith, fort lewis, hope, inspiration, jude stringfellow, lab, legs, limbs, lost, mcchord, motivation, on two legs, rear legs, rueben, soldiers, two legs, two-legged, video, walks, washington
When Lucky, the pet box turtle, lost his front legs to a raccoon, his owner had him equipped with furniture sliders that allow him to get around, almost as quickly as he used to.
Lucky and his mate, Lovey, lived in an open-topped pen with a pond in the yard of Sally Pyne, of Petaluma, Calif.
Pyne suspects a raccoon she’d spotted in the yard, eating some cat food she’d left for another pet, decided to have Lucky for lunch as well.
Pyne found Lucky injured July 31 (the raccoon spared Lovey) and took her to veterinary surgeon Robert Jereb. They think perhaps Lucky had a deformity that prevented him from pulling his front legs into his shell when the raccoon showed up.
Jereb performed surgery to remove what was left of the turtle’s legs, applied bandages and prescribed some medications to ease his pain. Pyne says she considered having the turtle euthanized.
“I was ready to let little Lucky go home, but Lucky, he was not ready to give up,” she told Sonoma County’s Press-Democrat. “His eyes were open, and he was shoving himself around on his two back legs. He was not going to quit.”
Jereb came up with the idea to use furniture casters, doubled up in order to match the length of his amputated legs and stuck to the bottom of his shell. The solution seems to have worked, although the casters may need to be replaced periodically.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 11th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adversity, amputation, animals, attack, backyard, california, casters, front legs, legs, lost, lucky, mobility, overcoming, pet, petaluma, pets, raccoon, robert jereb, sally pyne, sliders, surgery, turtle, veterinarian, veterinary
Bosco, a police dog shot twice while on duty in Zanesville, Ohio, is fighting to walk again, and the community is chipping in to help provide his therapy and around-the-clock care.
Bosco and his partner, Officer Mike Schiele, were shot Aug. 23 while Schiele was attempting to serve two warrants on Dominick Conley. Schiele is back home recuperating from his leg wound, but Bosco, who was shot in the neck and chest, remains at the Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital in Columbus.
Bosco has been making progress, according to veterinary school updates. He is beginning to stand on his front legs for a little while, and is working to stand on his hind legs.
Zanesville Police Chief Eric Lambes said the first week of care will probably cost $6,000 to $10,000 and Bosco is expected to remain at the hospital for several weeks, the Lancaster Eagle Gazette reports.
Lambes’ assistant, Linda Highfield, said hundreds of letters a day have poured in, most with checks for Bosco’s care. “It’s just been amazing,” she said. “They don’t stop coming and they’re coming from all over.”
“The story has made our hearts melt,” said Denny Walker, whose car dealership donated $1,200 for Bosco’s care, raising the money in a fundraiser held at Tri-County Chrysler in Heath. “He put his life on the line for his partner, and you just can’t ask for more than that.”
In addition to monetary donations, a former K-9 handler from South Carolina sent a wheelchair that he used for his own dog. “I know how important your dog is to you when you are an officer and that the K-9s are a great asset to any department,” said the donor, Michael Grazioso. “My heart went out to Officer Schiele when I read the story, and I just wanted to do something to help. If Bosco has to have a chair, then he’s got mine.”
Highfield said she has received offers of other dogs for the department in case Bosco is unable to return to work. “Before we even think about accepting another dog, we’re going to see how it goes with Bosco. We’re hoping he’ll be able to make it back.”
Donations so far exceed $5,000, Highfield said.
In addition, MedFlight of Ohio, which transported Bosco to Columbus the night he was shot, decided to forgive 90 percent of the bill. “We have to be responsible to our company, but we also felt that it was very important Bosco get help as quickly as possible that night and this is the right thing to do,” said Todd Bailey, director of the business division for MedFlight.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 7th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bosco, dog, donations, injury, K-9, legs, mike schiele, ohio, ohio state university, police, police chief, shot, veterinary, veterinary school, wounded, wounds, zanesville