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 John Woestendiek 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
If you think dogs don’t really love, and don’t really mourn, watch this and think again.
Bella, the dog, is dealing with the loss of her good friend Beavis, a beaver.
According to Bella’s owner, who posted the video on YouTube, Bella and Beavis played ball together, shared living quarters, and ate together. “They lived and loved together for quite a while. Beavis died this morning, and Bella has been in mourning for hours.”
While two other dogs that show up in the video don’t seem particularly bereft, Bella appears — at least to our human eyes — to be taking the death of Beavis pretty hard, licking and nuzzling the motionless beaver and remaining at its side.
Looks an awful lot like grieving to me.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 29th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, beaver, beavis, bella, bella and beavis, bella mourns beavis, death, dog, dog and beaver, dog mourns beaver, dogs, emotions, friends, friendship, grief, grieves, interspecies, love, mourning, pets, sad, video
Ever since her mate at the Seoul Zoo died last month, a female gorilla named Gorina has been showing signs of depression, zookeepers say.
Gorina and her 49-year-old mate Gorirong, who died last month of old age, had been cohabitating for 24 years.
And even though they didn’t always get along, the female Lowland Gorilla now sits still for days, gazing vacantly at the sky, according to the JoongAng Daily. Her fur has become brittle and she has exhibited violent behavior.
In an attempt to help Gorina, the only remaining Lowland Gorilla in the country, staff at the Seoul Zoo are trying everything from providing entertainment and reading material to making special meals.
Park Hyeon-tak, a zookeeper at Seoul Zoo who has been taking care of the gorilla couple for four years, said Gorina seems to be suffering from depression.
Gorirong and Gorina began living together 24 years ago when Gorirong was transferred from a zoo in Africa. Together, they were the zoo’s most popular attraction. Members of a critically endangered species, they failed to produce any offspring.
(Photo: from the flickr page of fPat)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 7th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, depression, emotion, endangered, feelings, gorilla, gorina, gorirong, grief, korea, loss, lowland, mate, mates, mourning, seoul, seoul zoo, south korea, species, zoos
Snickers died last week, shortly after arrival at the Hartford airport aboard Delta Flight 738.
Airline officials had promised Heather Lombardi, who had purchased the cat from a breeder in Utah and was having her delivered, that the cargo hold the cat would travel in was climate controlled.
If you can’t guess what happened next, here’s some additional information:
Snickers was 11 weeks old.
Snickers was a Sphynx, or hairless cat.
It is winter, and a particularly cold one.
Once a plane lands, the cargo area is depressurized, and that climate control stuff doesn’t apply anymore.
Lombardi sent out an email blast to tell the world about “the worst tragedy I have ever personally experienced” — not to gain pity, or money, or, we’d hope, bolster her odds in a lawsuit. Instead, she says, she wanted to inform the world of the dangers of shipping a cat, by air, in winter.
With her two children, Lombardi arrived at the airport and was told to wait in the baggage area. Fifty minutes passed after the flight landed, the delay in unloading baggage being caused at least partly by a cargo hold latch that was stuck, she was told.
“I wasn’t incredibly alarmed … I figured she would be fine as long as she wasn’t outdoors,” wrote Lombardi, who paid $290 to transport Snickers. Outdoors, it was 7 degrees.
Upon being handed the crate, Lombardi opened it and pulled Snickers out:
“The kitten was ICE cold, limp, and unresponsive. I IMMEDIATELY put her into my coat, grabbed my kids by the hands & ran out of the airport to get her into my car & cranked up the heat putting all vents on her as I rubbed her trying to warm her up. She couldn’t lift or control any limbs, her breathing was labored, she had a blank stare in her eyes, and she let out a meow. As if to say help me — please. We rushed her to the emergency vet clinic, but to my utter devastation, on the drive, she let out a blood curdling cry & went completely limp …”
Ten minutes after handing the apparently lifeless cat to the vet, Lombardi was informed that Snickers was indeed dead.
“Her last hour of life was spent frozen & unable to escape. I am so utterly devastated — I cannot express to anyone how this feels. I am so sad for her, her little 11 week life lost for no reason. A tragedy that could have been prevented if the airline had valued her little promising life.”
Delta told her it is investigating, but, she said, “the bottom line is that they can’t bring her back to me or my family, there is nothing they can say or do to make this whole. We don’t want a new kitten; we fell in love with HER. She was our new child & there is nothing that can be done to bring her home to us. Snickers lost her life unnecessarily … Value life everyone, I have just experienced something I pray no one else has too. Don’t let Snickers lost life be in vain, I pray you guys read this & maybe another animals life won’t be lost to the cold & lonely Delta Cargo holds.”
Reading over her summary of events, what stuns me most is that a customer would even consider having an 11-week-old hairless cat transported by air in the dead of winter. That the breeder would permit it is surprising as well. That Delta signed off on it is equally shocking.
So, much as we regret Snickers’ passing, we, unlike Lombardi, wouldn’t aim our anger solely at Delta. There appear to be plenty of humans to share the blame, including the one who — though her subsequent warning not to ship animals when it’s below 30 degrees is valid — probably should have done a little more research and used a little more common sense before having her new hairless cat placed on a plane.
And we have to wonder a little bit, too — coldhearted as it may be at her time of clearly anguishing loss — why, any allergies aside, someone would opt for a pricey, high-maintenance novelty pet from the other side of the country when hundreds of cats are in the Hartford area’s animal shelters, waiting for homes.
Heather Lombardi responds:
“… I first wanted to thank you for bringing attention to what happened to Snickers. Knowledge is power & even if you don’t agree with my actions & poor decision, not everyone knows or understands the risks of placing your pets in a climate controlled cargo hold. I myself was guilty of that. I do not place blame solely on Delta, my lack of knowledge & belief that travel was safe for animals in this weather was the obvious reason she was on the flight. It’s why I decided to share her story. She died due to my lack of knowledge & an obvious service failure on Delta’s behalf. I can’t control Delta, their practices or policies, what I can control is how I handle the situation. I choose to raise awareness, and I thank you for helping with that.”
Posted by John Woestendiek January 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: age, air travel, airplanes, airport, animals, blast, breeders, cargo, cargo hold, cat, cold, death, delta, email, exposure, grief, hair, hairless, hartford, heather lombardi, kitten, loss, mourning, novelty, pets, shipping, snickers, sphynx, transporting, travel, traveling with pets, winter, young
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 John Woestendiek 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
Cesar Millan says he plans to build a temple to his deceased pit bull, “Daddy,” and bury the dog’s ashes there, on the highest point of his California ranch.
In an interview with People Pets, the star of National Geographic Channel’s “Dog Whisperer,” also revealed that he and his famiy lit 500 candles in honor the the dog, who died after a long battle with cancer.
Millan has also announced the establishment of the Daddy’s Emergency Animal Rescue Fund, (DEAR) which will be operated by the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation. The DEAR Fund will provide assistance for dogs who are victims of abuse or violence, man-made disasters, and large-scale natural disasters.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ashes, buried, candles, cesar millan, daddy, death, died, dog, dog whisperer, fund, grieving, loss, mourning, national geographic channel, passed, pets, pit bull, temple, video
Paco Sosa, reportedly New York’s oldest dog, died last week.
The dachshund, owned by Bernadine Santistevan, of the upper East Sice, was 20 years old and five months in human years, according to the New York Daily News.
“He was such a gift in my life,” said Santistevan, who met the dachshund when he was a month-old. “He taught me that all life is precious. He was amazing in that respect.”
Paco Sosa had been having frequent seizures and neck pain for over a year, and suffered a particularly bad convulsion three weeks ago.
Santistevan said her dog was put down at a veterinary hospital. “He was very peaceful, very happy,” she said. “He let me know it was time to let go.”
Santistevan plans a “celebration party” in coming weeks for Paco Sosa, whose ashes she plans to scatter in the mountains around Taos, N.M.
(Click here for all of the Wiener Awards.)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ashes, bernadine santistevan, dachschund, death, died, dogs, grieving, loss, mourning, new york, oldest, paco sosa, pets, scatter, wiener, wiener dog, wiener dogs
Daddy, a pit bull who was Cesar Millan’s longtime friend and partner in canine rehabilitation, died peacefully Friday at the age of 16.
Millan, his family, friends, staff and volunteers were mourning the death of a dog described by “The Dog Whisperer” as “one of the most loyal, trusting, well-balanced, and influential pit bull ambassadors the world has ever known.”
“He lived each day of those sixteen years happy and fulfilled as Cesar’s right-hand-man, helping to shape the behavior of entire generations of dogs by showing them the way to balance. He stood as champion for calm-submissive pit bulls everywhere, and was instrumental in helping to repair their image as violent, savage, uncontrollable beasts. He successfully battled cancer and weathered chemotherapy, and even got the opportunity to present at the 56th Annual Creative Arts Emmy Awards,” Millan’s website reported.
Millan said Daddy has been immortalized by fans in all mediums — from painting, to photographs, to charcoal drawings and papier-mâché sculpture.
“And, of course, he lives on in his work, reflected in the balance and calm-submission of his protégé Junior, the countless animals to whom he was a positive role model, and in the hearts and minds of everyone who knew him as a calm, sweet, and mellow example of a widely misunderstood breed.”
Millan announced the establishment of a fund to honor Daddy’s legacy — the Daddy’s Emergency Animal Rescue Fund, (DEAR) which will be operated by the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation. The DEAR Fund will provide assistance for dogs who are victims of abuse or violence, man-made disasters, and large-scale natural disasters.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 22nd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: cancer, cesar millan, daddy, DEAR fund, death, died, dies, dog whisperer, loss, mourning, national geographic channel, news, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, sympathy
There was a gem of a story in the New York Times last week — about two elderly but popular neighborhood dogs who died within a day of each other.
Both lived in an apartment building on West 86th Street. Harry died Friday evening, his friend Bix died on Saturday.
“The fact that they were not human, but were instead a pair of 14-year-old dogs, seems only to have magnified the bereavement in their building, where they had lived longer than most tenants; on their block, where Harry held court at sidewalk cafes and was known as the Mayor of 86th Street; and deep into Central Park, where Bix had been the ringleader of a 9 a.m. play group since 1997,” the article reported.
Harry was a purebred Shar-Pei. Bix, named for the jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke,was a mix of Akita, Saint Bernard and German shepherd.
His 84-year-old owner, the documentary filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker, said he never knew any of his neighbors until Bix moved in, serving as an icebreaker and conversation-starter.
“Over the years, because of him, my circle of friends changed, I met people I never would have met; I came to see my whole life depending on this dog I hadn’t wanted at all,” said Pennebaker. “I’d expected having to walk him in the rain in the middle of the night. But I never expected to lose him. If ever you put a dog down, some of you goes with him.”
Rafael Curbelo, the building’s doorman, who kept a stash of treats behind his desk in the lobby, cried upon hearing the news. “Harry was my best friend here,” he said.
As has become the tradition in the dog-friendly building, two dog death announcements were posted in the elevator. Within hours, both had been inscribed with expressions of sympathy from tenants.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 1st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apartment, bix, bond, building, central park, d.a. pennebaker, death, dog, dog friendly, dog park, dogs, elderly, friends, harry, mix, mourning, mutt, new york, new york times, old dogs, pets, relationship, shar-pei, sharpei, west 86th street
As a footnote to our discussion yesterday on animals and emotions, we bring you the story of Dorothy, a female chimpanzee in her late 40s when she died last year of congestive heart failure.
As the photo above shows, a crowd of fellow chimps gathered and watched solemnly as she was wheeled to her burial.
The November issue of National Geographic magazine features the photograph, which has since “gone viral,” turning up in websites, TV shows and newspapers around the world, according to a National Geographic blog
The photographer, Monica Szczupider, is a volunteer at Cameroon’s Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center, where Dorothy had lived for eight years. The center houses and rehabilitates chimps victimized by habitat loss and the illegal African bushmeat trade.
After a hunter killed her mother, Dorothy was sold as a “mascot” to an amusement park in Cameroon, where she spent the next 25 years tethered by a chain around her neck, and was taught to drink beer and smoke cigarettes for the amusement of onlookers.
In May 2000, Dorothy was rescued and relocated along with ten other primates. As her health improved, she cared for an orphaned chimp named Bouboule and became a close friend to many others, including Jacky, the group’s alpha male, and Nama, another amusement-park refugee.
“Her presence, and loss, was palpable, and resonated throughout the group,” Szczupider said. “The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy’s chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration. But perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible silence.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 5th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, blog, burial, cameroon, chimp, chimpanzee, chimpanzee rescue, dorothy, emotions, funeral, grief, grieving, magazine, mourn, mourning, national geographic, sanaga-yong