After nearly half a century of fearing that the New Guinea highland wild dog had gone extinct in its remote and inhospitable habitat, high in the mountains of New Guinea, a pawprint in the mud has led researchers to confirm the existence of at least 15 of them.
Photographs taken with camera traps and DNA analyses of biological samples confirm the dogs — considered the most ancient breed on earth — are living along New Guinea’s remote central mountain spine.
“The discovery and confirmation of the highland wild dog for the first time in over half a century is not only exciting, but an incredible opportunity for science,” says the group behind the discovery, the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF).
New Guinea highland wild dogs were only known from two unconfirmed photographs in recent years — one taken in 2005, and the other in 2012.
They had not been documented with certainty in their native range in over half a century, and experts feared that what was left of the ancient dogs had dwindled to extinction.
Last year, a NGHWDF expedition led by zoologist James K. McIntyre, was joined by local researchers from the University of Papua, who were also seeking the the elusive dogs.
A muddy paw print spotted in September 2016 finally gave them what they were looking for — recent signs that the wild canids still wandered the dense forests of the New Guinea highlands.
The footprint was one McIntyre had left, with his bare feet, while going up the mountain. On the group’s way down the mountain, he noticed it had been joined by a paw print.
Bait was laid. Camera traps were set. And the cameras captured more than 140 images of Highland Wild Dog.
DNA analysis of fecal fecal samples confirmed that the breed is related to Australian dingos and New Guinea singing dogs – the captive-bred variants of the New Guinea highland wild dog.
The species established itself on the island at least 6,000 years ago, either arriving with human migrants or migrating independently of humans.
The dogs most commonly have a golden coat, but can also be black, tan or cream colors. Their tails curl up over their backsides and their ears sit erect on their heads.
According to the NGHWDF, there are roughly 300 New Guinea singing dogs remaining in the world, living in zoos and private homes. They are known for their high-pitched howls, often carried out in chorus with one another.
A scientific paper on the discovery is expected to be released in the coming months.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 28th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: analysis, ancient, breeds, discovery, dna, dog breeds, expedition, extinct, james k. mcintyre, mountains, mud, new guinea, new guinea highland wild dogs, not extinct, oldest, pawprint, photographs, photos, research, science, wild dogs, zoologist, zoology
I want to play it safe here, so let’s just say the size of the crowds taking part in the Women’s March on Washington, and its offshoots in other locations, numbered precisely somewhere between 5,000 and 10 million.
As for how many of those were “professional protesters,” there’s really no way of saying because — other than the exception above — they don’t commonly wear signs identifying themselves as such.
Dogs were represented at what’s being widely described as the largest protest in Washington’s history (some are being so bold to suggest more than 1 million people were in attendance, 2.6 million worldwide).
Here’s a look at some of them. You can find more at Bustle.com.
(Photo credits: From top to bottom, Mark Makela / Getty Images, Melanie Goldman / Twitter, Formation / Twitter, Katrin Pribyl / Twitter, Cooks Travels / Twitter, Avery Carnage / Twitter)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 24th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, crowd, dog, dogs, estimate, pets, photographs, photos, politics, president, protest, protesters, signs, size, Trump, washington, womens march
This could be the healthiest and least imbecilic fad to hit college campuses in a long, long time.
It’s a simple little idea — taking a photo of a dog who is out in public and posting it online — though the rules, which vary from one Dogspotting group to another, can get much more complex.
It strikes me as a much better use of time than PokéGo, in which people step out into nature and then ignore it while transfixed to their electronic devices, searching for creatures/objects/whatever that aren’t really there, other than virtually.
Dogspotting has been around, and has had an international following, since 2006, but in the past few years it has caught on as smartphones have evolved. Nationally, it now has more than 300,000 members.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sophomore Emily Korest started a Facebook Dogspotting group earlier this month. It already has more than 500 members.
“If you miss your dog at home this is the group for you!” she wrote in a post, “A collective to inform on dog sightings, post cute pics of dogs, and for dog owners to let us know when we can hang out with their dogs.”
“I have a couple friends who go to different colleges that have Dogspotting groups, and I just assumed that we had one and that I wasn’t in it and I realized we didn’t,” Korest told the Daily Tarheel.
“I just really like seeing dogs. I feel like we’re all really stressed — it’s midterm season — and every student deserves to have dogs in their lives.”
It’s not uncommon, when a new photo or video is posted of, say, a dog in The Pit, a gathering area outside the student union, for participating dog-loving students to stop what they’re doing and go meet it.
“I am more in it for actually seeing the dogs on campus,” Korest said. “I like the pictures a lot, but when somebody says, ‘There’s one in the Pit now,’ and I’m in Davis, I can just walk out and see the dog. That’s what I want.”
Nobody seems too interested in the game’s point system — one point for posting a photo, two more points if that dog is eating something — and the UNC group, unlike some others, has a pretty lax set of rules.
According to The Guardian, he came up with some rules and shared them on the comedy website SomethingAwful.com in 2006. The Facebook group was created in 2009.
“From the very beginning, Dogspotting was something that I thought was cool to share with people in a personal, real-life setting,” Savoia said. “It’s great that, despite the majority of it happening online, people are brought together by dogs.”
Of course, like any pursuit carried out by humans, over the Internet, it has the potential to abruptly turn mean, vicious, perverted or hazardous to one’s health.
At its core, though, it’s a pure and refreshing pursuit.
“I just love dogs,” sophomore Ryan Alderman, a member of the UNC group, explained. “Dogs are such pure, beautiful animals, and I love them so much. We don’t deserve them, and I like that other people feel the same way, and we can point them out and tell you where you can pet them. It’s just so sweet.”
(Photos from the Facebook page of UNC’s Dogspotting group)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 18th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, campus, chapel hill, community, dog, dog spotting, dogs, dogspotting, emily korest, facebook, fads, game, group, groups, pets, photographs, photos, post, social media, student, students, the pit, trends, unc, university of north carolina
We’re not recommending you do, and we’re not recommending you don’t. We’re only taking a quick look at the subject because, pure and innocent an act as hugging your dog might seem, it is not without controversy.
Stanley Coren, author of many dog books, stirred up a little of it in his column this month for Psychology Today, citing “new data” that shows getting hugged raises the stress and anxiety levels of dogs, and the possibilities of someone getting bitten.
Some people who have been hugging their dogs for years (and insist their dogs enjoy the affection) found his conclusions laughable, labeled him a party-pooping old fuddy duddy, and said his research techniques were anything but scientific.
We’d agree only with that last part — because Coren’s “new data” was gathered by looking at 250 random photos on the Internet of people hugging dogs.
“I can summarize the data quite simply by saying that the results indicated that the Internet contains many pictures of happy people hugging what appear to be unhappy dogs,” he wrote.
“In all, 81.6% of the photographs researchers scored showed dogs who were giving off at least one sign of discomfort, stress, or anxiety. Only 7.6% of the photographs could rate as showing dogs that were comfortable with being hugged. The remaining 10.8% of the dogs either were showing neutral or ambiguous responses to this form of physical contact.
That’s when you can see the white portion of the eyes.
Here’s the problem, though — or one of them, anyway. How does Coren, or anybody else, know that the dogs pictured are stressing out because of the hug. Couldn’t it also be a reaction to WHO is hugging them? Or a reaction to the camera?
The simple fact is some dogs like being hugged, some tolerate it, and others don’t like it at all.
For the latter group, it might be the amount of pressure applied during a hug that they are reacting to — enough to make them feel restrained. It might be that hugs tend to be spontaneous and come out of nowhere.
Then, too, mood could be a factor. Sometimes dogs, and humans, feel like being hugged and sometimes they don’t.
There are just too many variables to make a sweeping conclusion — especially when it’s all based on what photos turn up in your Internet search and your subjective interpretation of those photos.
Hard to read emotions through that many wrinkles, but he seems to be digging it.
We’d agree with the experts who say hugging a dog you don’t know or have just met is not a good idea — and that children should be taught that early on.
But beyond that, we’d be hesitant to put the kibosh on dog hugging altogether, especially when it’s based on Flickr’ed or Facebook’ed photos posted by dog owners wanting to show how much they love their dogs — whether their dogs like it or not.
In this writer’s life, he has been creeped out by some hugs, tolerated others, found some both warm and comforting, and gotten truly enthused by a few.
Probably, some old photos exist of him showing half moon eyes while being squeezed by his big sister.
Does that mean he doesn’t like hugs?
Of course not. He just prefers to make the decision on a case by case basis. Dogs should have that freedom, too.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 26th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: affection, animals, behavior, dog, dogs, emotions, health, hug, hugging, hugging your dog, hugs, internet, interpreting, mood, pets, photographs, photos, psychology today, safety, stanley coren
I’ve got to admit, when I saw the story about how a photographer is turning his photos of dogs eating peanut butter into a book … and calendar … and more, I got a little jelly.
Jelly as in jealous, that is, and not so much of the photographer’s skills — but of his entrepreneurial abilitities.
You see, I barely have enough of those to spread on a Saltine.
I can take a decent picture, write a decent story, but when it comes to creating anything you might call cash flow, well, it gets sticky.
Cleveland photographer Greg Murray, on the other hand, is managing to turn a simple idea — a very simple idea — into a potential empire.
A couple of years ago, trying to make a mastiff in his studio have an expression that looked less sad, Murray fed the dog some peanut butter.
“I wanted to make her happy, you know. I wanted to get her to drool and hang her tongue out and nothing was really working,” he told TODAY.com.
Now he’s turning that concept — dogs eating peanut butter — into a book and calendar, expected to go on sale sometime between this summer and October.
First, to cover his costs, he launched a Kickstarter campaign, setting a goal of $3,750. As of today, it has raked in $14,348.
That’s a lot of Jif.
Pledge $40 and you’ll get a copy of the calendar when it comes out. Pledge $75 or more and you’ll get a softcover copy of the book. Pledge $390 or more and he’ll put a photo of your dog eating peanut butter in the book (assuming you bring the dog to Cleveland) and give you a hardcover copy.
Pledge $2,500 and he’ll come to your house and take photos of your dog, and you’ll get the book, and he’ll sign it for you. (I’d don’t think he’ll wash your windows, or scoop up poop, but you could ask.)
It’s really quite an ingenious set up. Publicity about the book — and there has been a lot — boosts his contributions, will add to his book sales, and will likely benefit his photo business.
On his Kickstarter page, Murray does point out that peanut butter can be bad for dogs (if it is a brand that contains Xylitol, which, he points out, Jif does not).
Some of the photos I’ve seen are quite charming, others strike me as little more than dogs with dirty faces.
To me, they don’t quite have the appeal of those Underwater Dogs.
Nevertheless, the news media — always in search of stories allowing them to use the word “adorable” — gobbles it up. His venture has been reported on in, among others, the Huffington Post, BarkPost, Mashable, Fox News, the Daily Mail and the aforementioned Today.com.
On his Kickstarter page, there is a prediction the book will end up on the New York Times Bestseller List — but, keep in mind, that prediction comes from a dog he gave peanut butter to.
So yes, I am experiencing a little envy. Not so much of his idea. More of how he deftly he is turning it into a profitable reality.
But I’ve decided to squash that negative emotion and devote my energies to a project of my own:
Dogs eating jelly.
(Photos from “For the Love of Peanut Butter,” by Greg Murray)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 14th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, book, calendar, cleveland, dog, dogs, entrepreneur, envy, for the love of peanut butter, greg murray, jealousy, kickstarter, peanut butter, pets, photographer, photographs, photography, photos
Only in these mega-awesome modern times could a product that really doesn’t work well at all become a big hit.
And only in the Internet age could how badly it works be a selling point.
Fetch! is an app that lets you upload a photo of your dog and learn what breed it is, or, judging from my try, what breed it’s not.
It was released yesterday just in time for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, according to promotional material. (Last I checked, competitors at Westminster were pretty sure what breeds their dogs were.)
The app analyzes a photo and makes a guess as to breed — using its artificial intelligence and tons of data stored in clouds.
It’s just one of the latest products to hit the market offering to guess everything from your age to your state of mind to the significance of your mustache — all via the power of object recognition, a key facet of artificial intelligence.
It comes as a Web app or download for devices running Apple’s iOS, and you can also get an idea of what it’s all about at the website what-dog.net.
I generally avoid apps (I’m app-rehensive?) so I went to the website to give it a test. I fed it three different photos of Ace, and it identified him as a Rhodesian Ridgeback each time. (He’s not.)
Next I uploaded a photo of myself and was told I was a “Chihuahua … quick witted, loving, wary of strangers and other dogs.”
(Strangers and dogs are actually the two things I’m NOT wary of.)
Microsoft is using the device’s lack of reliability as a selling point, as if to say, “Well no, it’s not really accurate at all, but isn’t it fun?”
Seems to be a lot of that going around these days.
As in the series of ads from Time Warner that make light of the sheer hell the company — once, they’d have us believe — put customers through.
As in the direction the news media has been going in ever since it realized there was an Internet.
As in all those overused hooks designed to get us to click a link on the Internet – such as awesome, epic, jaw-dropping, life-changing, pee-your-pants-funny, you’re not going to believe what happened next.
With Fetch, in my case, not too much happened next.
But its developers say they expect it to wow the masses.
“There was an interest in creating a framework that would allow you to take a domain – in our case, dogs – and recognize numerous classes, such as breeds. We were interested in enabling an app to allow you to make object recognition extraordinary, fun and surprising,” said Mitch Goldberg, one of the Fetch developers
“If you want to take photos of dogs, it will tell you what dog breed it is, if it’s one of our supported breeds. If I choose to take a photograph of a flower, it’ll say, ‘No dogs found! Hmmm… This looks more like…flower?’ But if you take a picture of a person, it’ll kick into its hidden fun mode. And in a playful way, it’ll communicate to you not only what type of dog it thinks you are, but also why.”
Follow all that? When the app works, it’s an amazing example of artificial intelligence. When it doesn’t, don’t worry, it’s in playful, fun mode.
I sometimes wonder if artificial intelligence is gaining on us, or if we’re just getting more stupid.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 12th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ai, animals, app, apps, artificial intelligence, breed, breeds, dog, dog breeds, dogs, fetch, garage, identifier, identify, identifying, internet, media, microsoft, news, object, pets, photographs, photos, recognition
A Forsyth Couny woman went to the animal shelter to pick up her dog — only to learn that, due to mix-up, the five-year-old border collie-Lab mix had been put down.
Maximus, after a second biting incident, was being held for an 8-day quarantine at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.
When Ashley Burton went to pick him up, shelter staff brought out the wrong dog — and it only got worse after that, Fox 8 reports.
Burton says she went to the shelter July 2 to pick Maximus up after he completed the mandatory quarantine period when a second biting offense occurs.
A staff member pulled up the dog’s file, which included a photo of Maximus, and told Burton the dog would be right out.
But the dog that was brought out wasn’t Maximus. It was a pit bull mix named Spike.
After a 30-minute wait, Burton was taken to the shelter manager’s office, where she was told they could not find her dog.
Burton was then told there was nothing else she could do, and to go home while the shelter investigated.
Back home, her phone rang.
“The manager at the shelter, he said, ‘what was supposed to happen to Spike’, the dog that they actually brought me, ‘is what actually happened to Maximus,'” Burton said. “I said, ‘so you mean Maximus was euthanized,’ and he said, ‘yes, he was euthanized and we are so sorry for your loss.'”
“At some point, either the identifying kennel cards were switched, or the dogs themselves might have been switched,” said Tim Jennings, Director of Forsyth County Animal Control.
He said less than clear photos of the dogs, taken at the shelter and placed in their files, may have contributed to the mix-up.
“The photograph is to be the definitive security issue, and in this case we could have done a better job there,” he said.
Jennings said a similar incident happened at the shelter in 2014. Burton, he said, has been given a new dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 28th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animal shelters, animals, ashley burton, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, forsyth, forsyth county, forsyth county animal shelter, maximus, mistake, pets, photographs, photos, protocol, quarantined, safeguards, shelters, winston-salem, wrong