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Tag: mystery

Photo bomb: That wasn’t Amelia Earhart, after all; so, doggonit, the mystery lives on

notearhart

Two of the biggest news stories of the week — or at least the two most shouted about by the news media — were new evidence surfacing regarding Trump’s ties to Russia and new evidence surfacing in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.

Revelations that Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting during the campaign with a Russian who promised some dirt on Hillary Clinton were called a “nothing burger” by Trump supporters. But, as the week progressed, it all started looking pretty meaty.

The other so-called investigative breakthrough — “experts” saying they found a photo that shows Earhart and her navigator in the custody of the Japanese on the Marshall Islands after their crash and disappearance in 1937 — turned out to be a totally meatless whopper.

apearhartBy which we don’t mean a lie — just a tremendously lazy mistake. The photo in question, it turns out, originally appeared in a travel book published two years before Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan even began the journey they wouldn’t return from.

The photo was the basis of an hour-long History Channel special Monday — one that was widely promoted in news programs as a possible solution to an 80-year old mystery.

Instead, the whole theory ended up holding about as much as (sorry, Geraldo) Al Capone’s vault.

It’s all just more proof that, when it comes to truth, when it comes to uncovering things, when it comes to unburying treasures, we’re better off putting our faith in dogs. Dogs aren’t concerned with making money, or getting famous, or one-upping, or getting in the last word, or getting interviewed by Matt Lauer.

We talked about the “Earhart photo” in a post earlier this week, but that post pertained more to another, less publicized effort to get to the bottom of the Earhart mystery, and how it had turned to some “bone sniffing dogs” in an attempt to find Earhart’s bones.

Operating on an alternate theory, and not buying the “photographic evidence,” a Pennsylvania-based group called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) sent four border collies to a site they have been focusing on — a small coral atoll about 400 miles south of Howland Island.

Four dogs alerted to a spot in the area, and excavation ensued, but no bones were found.

They had hoped to find bones and, through DNA testing, link them to Earhart. Some small glimmers of hope remain. Dirt from the site has been sent to a lab though to see if any traces of human DNA remain in it, and there’s a possibility that human DNA could be found in crabs that scavenged on any bones.

nothing burgerThat quest could turn out to be a “nothing burger,” too, but even so it won’t be as embarrassing as the efforts of Les Kinney, the former treasury agent who came across a photo in the National Archives that he and others were highly convinced depicted Earhart and her navigator in Japanese custody.

That led to History Channel documentary, “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence,” which aired Sunday and concluded that, based on the photo and other evidence, Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan ended up in Japanese custody on the Marshall Islands after they survived a crash landing.

The documentary touted the image as “the key to solving one of history’s all-time greatest mysteries.”

Many a news organization billed the photo that way, too, until Wednesday, when they all started backtracking after learning a Tokyo-based blogger unearthed the same photograph in the archives of Japan’s national library. It had appeared in a book — published in 1935.

Kota Yamano, a military history blogger, ran an online search using the keyword “Jaluit atoll” and a decade-long time frame starting in 1930.

“The photo was the 10th item that came up,” he said, along with its source — a travel book published two years before Earhart began the attempted around the world journey in 1937.

The Internet search took all of 30 minutes, he said.

“I was really happy when I saw it, Yamano said. “I find it strange that the documentary makers didn’t confirm the date of the photograph or the publication in which it originally appeared. That’s the first thing they should have done.”

Major news media didn’t do that, either, opting to put more effort into hyping the story than doing a little digging of their own.

So thanks to Koto Yamano for letting us know the “Earhart photo” was a “nothing burger.” (Maybe we should have him figure out this whole Russia and Trump thing.)

According to the website knowyourmeme.com — if we are to believe it — the earliest known usage of the term “nothing burger” was by Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons. She used it in reference to actor Farley Granger, whose acting chops she apparently questioned.

When the actor was released from his contract with Samuel Goldwyn’s studio, MGM, in 1953, she wrote “After all, if it hadn’t been for Sam Goldwyn Farley might very well be a nothing burger.”

The concept — though the term wasn’t used — was pretty much the basis of Wendy’s old “Where’s the beef?” advertising campaign, and the phrase itself has enjoyed a revival this year, thanks mainly to politics, and the presidential campaign, and the Internet, where we don’t seem to agree on anything except what cool-sounding phrase we all want to use, be it “game changer” or “nothing burger.”

If the Amelia Earhart mystery ever is solved, I suspect dogs will be part of that resolution, probably DNA, too — but not emails, not quickie documentary makers trying to sell a story, and definitely not politicians.

(Photos: At top, the photo some investigators said included Earhart, after her plane crashed, as it appeared in Umi no seimeisen : Waga nannyou no sugata, a photo book in Japan’s national library published in 1935; below, the actual Earhart in an Associated Press photo; at bottom, an actual nothing burger)

Dogs are on the trail of Amelia Earhart, too

kayle

You’ve probably heard about the guy who thinks an enlarged and grainy photo he stumbled across at the National Archives may solve the mystery of what became of Amelia Earhart.

But you might not have heard that some dogs are on the case as well.

While the photo, unearthed by former U.S. Treasury agent Les Kinney, is grabbing headlines, four dogs retained by a group with a different theory on Earhart’s death have been trying to sniff out the pioneering aviator’s remains at a location hundreds of miles away.

Kinney is convinced the photo shows Earhart (with her back to the camera) and her navigator Fred Noonan some years after they disappeared.

The dogs are looking for something a little more concrete — namely Earhart’s bones.

There are competing theories on what became of Earhart — with some arguing her plane crashed and sank into the ocean, others suspecting she and Noonan survived after crashing on a remote island and others believing they ended up in the custody of the Japanese in the Marshall Islands or on Saipan.

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has focused its recent investigation on Nikumaroro Island, nearly 1,000 miles from the Marshall Islands.

The group sent four border collies — named Marcy, Piper, Kayle, and Berkeley — to the island on June 30 as part of an expedition sponsored by TIGHAR and the National Geographic Society.

According to National Geographic, TIGHAR researchers had previously visited the island and narrowed their search to a clearing they call the Seven Site, where a British official reported finding bones in 1940.

In 2001 searchers located unearthed possible signs of an American castaway at the site, including the remains of campfires, and several U.S.-made items including a jackknife, a woman’s compact.

Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared on July 2, 1937, on their way to a refueling stop at Howland Island, about 350 nautical miles northeast of Nikumaroro.

TIGHAR’s theory is that, when the aviators couldn’t find Howland, they landed on Nikumaroro’s reef during low tide.

The bone-sniffing dogs were brought to the island in hopes of finding proof that their remains were on Nikumaroro.

All four dogs alerted to a particular spot, indicating they had detected the scent of human remains, and excavation began on July 2, the 80th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance.

dnaNo bones have been found, but TIGHAR researchers collected soil samples, which have been sent to a lab for DNA testing.

If she were buried there, the soil could still contain traces of Earhart’s DNA.

Kinney’s counter theory, meanwhile is that the aviator and her navigator ended up in Japanese custody, which, he says, the photo seems to support.

Kent Gibson, a forensic analyst who specializes in facial recognition, said it was ‘very likely’ the individuals in the photo are Earhart and Noonan, according to NPR.

amelia

Under Kinney’s theory, when Earhart couldn’t find Howland Island she turned back westward and landed on Mili Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands.

Kinney suspects Earhart and Noonan were rescued after the crash and taken to Jaluit Island, and later taken to a Japanese prison on the island of Saipan.

(Photo: At top, forensic dog Kayle sits on a spot where she alerted to the scent of human bones; lower, the excavation for bones begins; both photos by by Rachel Shea / National Geographic; at bottom, the photo some suspect shows Earhart (seated at the center) and Noonan (standing at the far left), from the National Archives)

The curious case of the chewed up chaise

dogchew

Law enforcement authorities in Norfolk (the one in the UK) have a whodunit on their hands.

Well, more like a whichdogdidit.

Three police dogs who reside with the same trainer are under investigation to determine which one of them, or which combination of them, shredded an outdoor lounger.

“That used to be a sun bed,” their handler tweeted in a photo post of the crime scene.

In it, all three dogs are sitting obediently alongside the lounger looking innocent or guilty, depending on one’s point of view.

And humans, as usual, are only too willing to pass judgment based on that photo alone. Internet voting has “all three” leading the way, with 44 percent of the vote.

The Eastern Daily Press is tallying the votes.

Among those who don’t suspect a three-way conspiracy, the cocker spaniel is is getting the most guilty votes. And some are saying all the evidence is circumstantial and suspicions shouldn’t be cast on the dogs just because they were there and the ground around them strewn with foam bits.

It could have been a visiting dog, or intruding squirrels, some suggest.

“Being police dogs, I think they rumbled an attack by rogue squirrels and are now standing guard to make sure the miscreants do not return,” one dog-faithful reader tweeted.

There has been no mention of conducting DNA testing on the chewed up foam, and the dogs — named Shuck, Murphy and Gizmo — remain free on their own recognizance.

(Photo: Twitter)

Mystery rescuer of dog was a firefighter

WSMV Channel 4

A man rushed into a burning home in Tennessee to save a dog, then disappeared as quickly and mysteriously as he arrived.

The only clue to his identity was a remark he uttered before going into the house — “I do this for a living,” he told a neighbor.

The man arrived before firefighters did at the home in White House, about 20 miles north of Nashville, and was gone before they got there.

“This guy in a gray Mustang pulls up, says ‘I do this for a living,’ and he runs in and he comes out about two minutes later with this beautiful dog in his arms, and it was incredible to see,” Jimmy Nichols, who shot the video on his cell phone, told WSMV in Nashville.

“He got in his car and he left; it was so weird, he just took off,” said Nichols. “Literally 30 seconds after that guy got out, that roof collapsed.”

“He’s got the love and respect of this whole community,” Nichols said.

Not until later was it learned that the man was a Nashville firefighter who lived nearby and noticed the smoke and flames.

Tim Tawater, a 20-year veteran of the Nashville Fire Department, said he was concerned someone might be in the house. He entered the home and found no people, but when he heard barking he looked again and found the dog.

Tawater threw a blanket over the head of Sampson, Brandon and April Gourley’s one-year-old Bouvier, and carried him outside.

“Around here dogs are family,” Tawater told News Channel 5 in Nashville.

Tawater said, even though he was out of his jurisdiction, he was just doing his job.

“To me the heroes are the volunteers who show up to put the fire out and don’t get paid to do it,” he said.

Tawater said the family, on vacation when the fire broke out, has thanked him for his actions.

The Gourley family’s three cats were also inside the home. Two were found alive, but one is still unaccounted for.

The rescued dog was being cared for by neighbors until the family returned from vacation.

Does pinpointing breeds speed up adoption?

lily

In hopes that potential adopters will find a “Chiratoodle” or a “golden Chinscher” more appealing than a plain old mutt or “Chihuahua mix,” an animal shelter in California has begun DNA testing some of its dogs to determine their breeds and market them under more exotic names.

The Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA in Burlingame, south of San Francisco, says initial results show the DNA tested dogs are getting adopted twice as fast.

Not too surprising in a world that prefers labels over mysteries — at least when it comes to what we bring into our homes.

DNA testing is not widely practiced by America’s animal shelters, mainly because of its expense. As a result, most people who adopt a dog from a shelter leave with a mystery mutt, or one whose heritage has been guessed at by shelter staff.

My dog Ace, for instance, when he was adopted nearly 10 years ago, was listed as a “hound mix” on his shelter paperwork, referred to as a “shepherd mix” by shelter staff and listed on Petfinder.com as a “Labrador mix.”

When DNA tests came on the market in 2007, I purchased one, swabbed his cheek and learned he was Rottweiler and Chow. In the next few years, as the tests became capable of identifying more than the original 38 breeds, I tested him two more times. The second test determined he was Rottweiler, Chow and Akita. The third test showed him to be all of those, and a little bit pit bull.

The tests allowed me to answer the question I was asked at least once a day: “What kind of dog is that?” It wasn’t so much that I had to know. All three tests were done mostly as research, for the purpose of writing about them. And once I learned the breeds he was made up of, I kind of missed the mystery.

I don’t think the information is all that vital, but I can understand how a purchaser, or adopter, of a dog might like to know what’s in his or her mix.

In California, the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA conducted the tests in an attempt to increase the adoptions of Chihuahua mixes, which make up nearly a quarter the dogs in its shelter.

The campaign, conducted under the slogan “Who’s Your Daddy?” is aimed at “finding great homes for dogs at risk of being overlooked,” said Scott Delucchi, the shelter’s senior vice president.

“People love mutts. Still, we’re betting shelter dogs with DNA results included, for free, will be quite fetching,” he says in a commercial for the campaign.

The shelter picks up the cost of the $50 tests, which they say can help owners identify what breed-specific traits the dogs might exhibit. The tests also allow the shelter to have some fun coming up with clever breed names — like “Chorgi” (Chiuahua-corgi), “golden Chinscher”  (golden retriever-miniature pinscher-Chihuahua) and “Chiratoodle” (Chihuahua-rat terrier-poodle).

In February, the shelter conducted tests that determined the breed make up of 11 small dogs. All found homes within two weeks — twice as fast as any 11 untested small, brown dogs in the previous months, according to an Associated Press story.

Twelve more dogs have been tested since then and once they are all placed in homes the shelter plans to test 24 more.

Chihuahuas have replaced pit bulls as the most prevalent breed in the shelter, largely due to the “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” movies, and the breed’s popularity among celebrities.

While some visitors to the shelter are seeking Chihuahuas, others are looking for mutts — small dogs who, thanks to another breed being in the mix, might have a less nervous dispositions.

While shelter officials have proclaimed the new program a success, they note that it’s going to take more than a gimmick to reduce the “alarming” number of Chihuahua mixes coming in.

“Another part is making spay-neuter low-cost or free to the community,” Delucchi said. The shelter also exports some of its smaller dogs to shelters in Florida, New York and other states where they are in shorter supply.

(Photo: Lynn and Tony Mazzola, with Lily, their newly adopted  “Chorkie;” by Eric Risberg / AP)

Why do dogs keep jumping off this bridge?

overtounbridge

For some strange reason, dozens of dogs have jumped to their deaths off Overtoun Bridge, a 50-foot high span near the Scottish town of Dumbarton.

Some claim the bridge is haunted. Some postulate (ridiculously) that dogs crossing it are suddenly overcome with suicidal urges. Others blame the minks who live below.

It is believed between 50 and 100 dogs have jumped to their deaths from the bridge in the last five decades — five during one six-month span in 2005.

cassie1The latest to make the leap, a springer spaniel named Cassie, survived, the Daily Mail reported this week.

Alice Trevorrow, 50, was walking Cassie across Overtoun Bridge when the dog jumped over a parapet and disappeared from her sight.

“I will never forget the awful whine she made as she leapt,” said Trevorrow, a nurse. “My heart just dropped. I have no idea how she survived, the bridge is so high. I was almost certain that she had died.”

Trevorrow and her son Thomas ran to the edge, looked over and saw three-year-old Cassie struggle to her feet.

She said the dog suffered only a pulled muscle in a hind leg.

Only one other dog has been known to survive after leaping off the 19th century span that some, including the makers of a documentary about it, have dubbed “Dog Suicide Bridge.”

The Daily Mail says the Scottish SPCA has sent an animal habitat expert to investigate why dogs leap off the bridge, which about as high as a four-story building.

The most logical sounding explanation is that dogs are detecting the scent of  the minks who live below and, in their enthusiasm, leaping off the bridge to investigate.

Who is this dog, and why was he carrying an old black and white photo?

photoincollar

Animal control officers who picked up a stray last month in Greenville, S.C., face a double mystery as they try to track down the identity of a dog, and of a man pictured in an old black-and-white photo found inside the dog’s collar.

soldierThe friendly brown pit bull-type dog was found wandering through a neighborhood on Monday, Jan. 13.

Susan Bufano, community relations coordinator with Greenville County Animal Care, said the dog was not neutered or microchipped.

There was no identification on the dog’s collar.

Under the collar, though, a wrinkled black-and-white photo, carrying no name or date, was found.

photoIt pictures a smiling man, possibly in a military uniform, seated on a railing.

The stray dog, described as skinny and well-behaved, was given the name Soldier.

Bufano said the dog’s is about two years old, and the collar appeared relatively new.

“It’s so bizarre,” she said. “Absolutely anything is possible.”

Bufano told ABC News that the collar was an unusual one — extra wide, with a built in pouch.

The shelter posted photos of the dog, the collar and the unidentified man on its Facebook page, but no substantial leads had surfaced as of last night.

Bufano hopes that publicity about the dog and the mystery photo could lead to some answers, including who owned the dog.

“This photo should mean something to somebody,” she said.

Soldier  is, as of now, available for adoption.

But the shelter has limited space, and it’s possible Soldier could be euthanized if he goes unclaimed.

Anyone with information about Soldier is encouraged to contact Greenville County Animal Care at 864-467-3990.

(Photos: Courtesy of Greenville County Animal Care)