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
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 jwoestendiek 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
The first time I met Steve Wilson, in 1978, he asked me where I wanted to be in five years, and I looked at him like he was crazy.
Five years? How could anyone possibly plan that far ahead? Five years was, like, forever, and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be next week, or for that matter tomorrow.
I was applying for a job in Lexington, Kentucky, at a newspaper where he was managing editor. I was 24, and among the many things I didn’t know at the time was how quickly five years can zip by.
The same holds true of 11 years.
At age 11, Ranger, the golden retriever Wilson took home as an eight-week-old pup, passed away just before Christmas.
Wilson wrote about Ranger — “my best friend and maybe the happiest soul I’ve ever known” — in a recent article in the Kentucky Enquirer, where he’s the editor:
“Golden retrievers are famously sweet, friendly and mellow. Ranger was true to his breed and then some. He radiated joy. He was gentle, innocent and steady as a rock. He wanted nothing more than to be a faithful companion and to give and receive love. His devotion never wavered.
“A person can learn a lot from a dog, and he gave lessons in appreciating everyday moments. When we took walks and hikes, he seemed to enjoy every step and gave me looks that said, “Hey, is this a great day or what?” When I came home from work, he rushed to the door to greet me with a smiling face that made whatever I was dealing with that day a little easier to handle … He was unacquainted with discontent”
Wilson, who helped open a dog shelter in Flagstaff, Arizona, has had many dogs, dating back to the era we worked together at the Lexington Leader. We even had the same dog. His family called her Jessie; I called her Carrie (in honor of my crush on Sissy Spacek). We disagree on who had her first. I remember him giving her to me; he remembers me giving her to him. In any event, Jessie, a tad neurotic, ended up with another reporter, who had a farm in the country.
Wilson and I would go on to work for a handful of other newspapers, and he’d end up in Phoenix, where he left journalism and went to work for Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. When he brought Ranger to visit the offices, Wilson recalled, the place seemed to brighten up.
In August of 2012, he returned to the newspaper profession, hauling Ranger and his coonhound mix, Clara, with him to a new job in Kentucky.
Ranger quickly made new friends, at Kenton County’s Paw Park and when Wilson brought him into the offices of the Kentucky Enquirer, where he quickly hit it off with the news staff.
In the past few weeks, Ranger lost weight and grew weak — to the point where he could barely stand. At the vet, it was agreed it was time to let him go. Wilson stroked Ranger’s coat as a lethal injection was administered.
The following week, Wilson returned to the office from lunch to find a card on his desk signed by his new colleagues, along with a copy of ‘The Power of Dog,’ a Rudyard Kipling poem:
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 2nd, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arizona, death, dogs, editor, golden retriever, grief, kenton county, kentucky enquirer, loss, mourning, northern kentucky, paw park, pets, ranger, rudyard kipling, steve wilson, the power of dog
After a stray dog was struck by a car in Zhangzhou, China, her canine companion stayed by her side for six hours, nudging her with his nose, licking her, and, according to a local butcher, even shedding tears.
It can all be seen in a series of photographs being described by most major media as both “heartbreaking” and “heartwarming” — though we’d note it would have been much more heartwarming if somebody had gone to the aid of the two dogs in the street.
Xiao Wu, a local butcher, said he had recently started to feed the female stray. Her male friend, also a brown and white mutt, were often seen together.
“He stayed beside her the whole day, keeping licking her and pushing her, trying to wake her up, the butcher said. ”… Then he pushed her with his head, and licked her face … I even saw tears.”
The male dog showed up in the neighborhood about a week ago, he said. Since then, “They were together all the time, playing and in love.”
(Photos by HAP/Quirky China News/Rex)
Posted by jwoestendiek December 20th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, animals, car, china, couple, dogs, friends, grief, loss, loyalty, mourning, pair, pets, strays, street, struck, team, vigil, Zhangzhou
As irreplaceable as dogs are — and Charlie Powell considered his childhood dog, Poochie, just that — the best thing to do when you lose one is to fairly quickly get another.
Powell, senior public-information officer for Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Pullman, learned that lesson the hard way, letting 30 dogless years elapse after Poochie died.
In a haunting, inspiring and pretty darned wise essay in last week’s Seattle Times, Powell told the story of Poochie, the Boston terrier who was his first dog.
“My mother often said she thought I would pet his head bald with my right hand while sucking a bottle held in my left. She also said Poochie had no problem with that.”
After accompanying Powell through much of his childhood, the day came that Poochie, achy and elderly, had to be put down. Powell recalls the trip to the vet, and going with his father to bury Poochie near Lake Mead in Nevada.
Traumatic as that might have been for a 10-year-old, it got worse. When he and his father, on a fishing trip, later returned to the site where they’d laid Poochie to rest, they found the grave desecrated.
“There was trash around his grave where people had partied. There was a blackened fire ring where we buried him with the burned hinges and the hasp laying there. When I looked up, I saw his partially charred body hung by the neck from a limb with the wire we used to close the box…”
The impact of that, somewhat understandably, would last 30 years.
“For me, the memory of what happened was more like a featureless wall that one is unable to scale. I think I coped with this mainly by becoming ambivalent to dogs — all dogs.”
His family got other dogs, he writes, “but I was never close to any of them. I just never wanted to be that close to a dog again.” Even while working at Washington State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and for the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association, he had no desire — at least not that he was aware of – to have a dog of his own.
Then one day his wife went to a dog show, and — though he’d never mentioned Poochie to her — fell in love with Boston terriers, to the point she ordered one from a breeder, and asked her husband to pick up the dog, a brindle-colored male named ”Buster.”
“My mind raced. I fretted all week. How could I get another dog? What if his fate turned out to be worse than Poochie’s? Did my wife expect me to “replace” Poochie? Of course that was unfair to her; she knew nothing of Poochie. So I decided I needed to keep the wall up for the time being.”
We all know how good dogs are at knocking such walls down, and that’s what Buster did.
“Buster blossomed into a well-mannered young man that wormed his velvety head into my heart.
“Part of what I had avoided since Poochie died was eye contact with other dogs. But just try and avoid eye contact with a Boston terrier in your house, those two orbs that stick out on the corners of a cube-shaped head. It’s impossible.”
Powell would go on to feature Buster regularly in vet school publications, and he once brought him along to a Washington State Veterinary Medical Association meeting, where “he sat in the conference room next to me wearing his WSU bow tie as if he were deliberating.”
As Powell notes Buster wasn’t Poochie — and it would be wrong to have expected him to be. When one dog dies, and you get another, the new one isn’t a replacement, and isn’t just a painkiller. He or she is unique — another chance to enjoy the magic of the species, another chance, for a dog lover, for love.
“Between Poochie and Buster was a long time to stay silent and deny myself the joy of another dog,” Powell wrote. “With Buster’s passing, I realized that I had shortchanged myself for a long time for no good reason. The very thing I thought I was protecting myself from — life with another dog — turned out to be the best thing for me.”
(Editor’s note: After the death of Buster, Powell adopted another Boston terrier, this one a blind and deaf 13-year-old rescue. Her name is CeCe.)
(Photos: Poochie and Powell in 1961, courtesy of Charlie Powell; Buster in a vet school post card, by Henry Moore Jr. / BCU/WSU)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, boston terriers, buster, charlie powell, coping, death, dog, dogless, doglessness, dogs, grief, mourning, new dog, pets, poochie, replacement, school, veterinary, void, walls, washington state university
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
Leave it to director Tim Burton to get across the point — in his characteristically gothic manner – that I’ve been trying to make for two years now:
You can’t bring your dead dog back to life, at least not without running into some trouble.
At least that’s a point I selfishly hope his new full-length, 3-D animated movie, “Frankenweenie,” will make when it comes out in October.
As the author of a book on the brave new world of dog cloning, and being generally opposed to the practice, I’ve got some confused feelings about Burton’s new movie, which comes out — unlike his 1984 short film of the same name – at a time when dogs, deceased and otherwise, are being “re-created” in South Korea.
Science has caught up with science fiction, it seems, and sometimes brings equally scary results.
In the movie, a boy named Victor, grieving the death of his beloved dog, Sparky, conducts a science experiment to bring him back to life “only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.”
Based on that summary, Burton’s new movie, like the classic work of literature upon which it is based, could have a few things in common with today’s reality, in which the cells of dead dogs are merged with egg cells from donor dogs, zapped with electricity and, after being implanted in surrogates, come to life. The going price is $100,000.
Do bereaved pet owners get the same dog — a reanimated version of their deceased one? Of course not. Do they think they are? Sometimes.
When I started researching “DOG, INC.: How a Collection of Visionaries, Rebels, Eccentrics and Their Pets Launched the Commercial Dog Cloning Industry,” the first book I read, or re-read, was “Frankenstein” — given all the parallels between that classic story and cloning.
Both featured grief, selfishness and laboratories, borrowing parts from one being to assemble another, and plenty of mistakes and deformities along the way. Both relied on a zap of electricity to spur things on. Both related to the stubborn refusal of humans to accept death, and the powerful drive, among some, to bring a being, or at least a semblance of it, back to life.
Burton’s new movie itself is a reanimation. “Frankenweenie” was originally a 30- minute short film. Now he’s done what he originally wanted to do — make it a full-length feature. Here’s the official synopsis:
From creative genius Tim Burton comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.
While much has been written about the making of the movie, and about the stars providing the voices — Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, among others — what message it delivers hasn’t been written about much. (Not that it must have one, or that it must be the one I’d like to see.)
The original short film — we’ve posted it here — was fantastical and charming. In it, the reanimated dog, though humans outside of his immediate family fear and misunderstand him, goes on to save Victor’s life and become beloved by all.
“The reason I originally wanted to make ‘Frankenweenie’ was based on growing up and loving horror movies,” Burton explains in the new movie’s press materials. “But it was also the relationship I had when I was a child with a certain dog that I had.”
“It’s a special relationship that you have in your life and very emotional,” he adds. “Dogs obviously don’t usually live as long as people, so therefore you experience the end of that relationship. So that, in combination with the Frankenstein story, just seemed to be a very powerful thing to me -— a very personal kind of remembrance.”
The original short film didn’t go into the folly and dangers of attempting to bring the dead back to life, and — being fictional, being fanciful, being art — it, and it’s lengthier animated 3-D remake, shouldn’t be required to.
It should need no “don’t try this at home” warning.
It should be allowed to just be fun, and not be subjected to hand-wringing reminders that resurrecting dead dogs, or at least what’s portrayed as such, is actually going on, or the moral and ethical issues surrounding it, or the sometimes horrific results.
And, or course, not being my movie, it shouldn’t have to make my point — one that wasn’t even necessary to make in 1984:
A dog’s death is final, and cherishing a dog’s memory (not to mention the dog while it is still alive) is a far more meaningful pursuit than trying to artificially recapture its essence in a laboratory.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 17th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 3d, animals, back to life, book, clone, cloned, cloned dogs, clones, cloning, death, director, dog, dog inc., dogs, entertainment, experiment, fantasy, frankenstein, frankenweenie, gothic, grief, horror story, message, moral, mourning, movie, pets, reality, resurrection, science, science fiction, sparky, tim burton, victor
For years, a husky mix named Annie quietly watched the world go by, lying beneath a tree in front of an apartment complex in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of Los Angeles.
A neighborhood fixture, she seemed perfectly content to observe and greet as dog walkers, strollers and anyone else went by — and the neighborhood found her a reassuring presence as well.
When Annie died over the weekend — of anaphylactic shock, caused by a bee sting — neighbors started coming together in a vigil not unlike the one she kept.
It started with a few notes tacked to the tree and grew into a full blown memorial, complete with candles, flowers and sympathy cards.
Since her death Saturday, some visitors to Annie’s shady spot at corner of 4th Street and Cochran Avenue have stood there and cried, said her owner, Jack Zurla, who rescued Annie 12 years ago after finding her foraging for food near the corner of Washington Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.
“I’ll remember Annie as a dog that was more human than dog,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “She had the capacity to understand people. She was a dog of compassion for everybody. She gave people comfort.”
“Annie was a staple in a lot of lives around here,” he added. “Annie was always ready to give someone some love.”
Other residents echoed those thoughts.
“She never ran off, never barked at anyone,” said actor Brian Savage, who lives nearby. “She was just a pillar of the neighborhood.”
“Annie was really a touchstone for all of us,” said Michael Moravek, also an actor. “It was nice to have her here. We might not know each other but we all knew Annie.”
“She was our neighborhood guardian. Even now, Annie is bringing us together,” he noted as he placed a snapshot he had taken of her on the shrine Tuesday.
Also leaving a hand-printed note was six-year-old Roman DiGiulio. With his mother at his side, he placed the note, written on a large red heart, on the tree. It read: “Have a good life in heaven, sweet doggie.”
(Photo: Jack Zurla stands in front of an impromptu memorial to his dog Annie; by Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 19th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anaphylactic shock, animals, annie, apartment, bee, behavior, cochran avenue, community, complex, death, dog, dogs, fourth street, grief, husky, husky mix, jack zurla, los angeles, loss, memorial, mid-wilshire, mourning, neighborhood, neighbors, pets, relationships, sting, tree, tribute, vigil
The heartwarming story of an injured stray dog taken in by students at a Catholic school on the Crow Reservation in Montana came to an abrupt end when someone drove onto school grounds and fired six shots at the dog.
Named Mission, the female Rottweiler mix — who’d been nursed back to health after limping onto the grounds of Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy in St. Xavier six years ago — was fatally wounded.
Students are still grieving her death, more than two months ago, according to the Billings Gazette.
“We’ve had dogs come and go, but never one that stuck around like she did,” said Garla Williamson, the principal at the private school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. “She adopted us, and we adopted her.”
The shooting is being investigated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a small reward is being offered by the school for information leading to an arrest.
Samantha Stoddard said she was watching television and heard through an open window at her campus residence what she heard shots, then heard Mission yelp in pain. She ran outside and saw a white sedan parked at a cattle guard near the entrance to the school property.
Two more shots were fired as she ran to the dog.
She found Mission collapsed on the ground and helped carry the dog to the porch of her residence.
“She was trying to die, and it was really painful,” she said. With the dog sufferering and no veterinarian, a staff member got a gun and put her down.
Several days passed while staff struggled with how to tell students what had happened.
Stoddard said Mission is buried near her residence, and the children have been making regular visits to the grave.
“It’s turned into a little shrine,” she said.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 25th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: academy, adopted, animals, bureau of indian affairs, catholic, crow, crow reservation, dog, dogs, grief, injured, investigation, mission, mix, montana, mourning, pets, pretty eagle, private, rescued, reservation, rottweiler, school, shooting, shot, shrine, st. xavier, stray, students, taken in
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