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Tag: roundworms

Hachiko had cancer, Japanese scientists find

Seventy-five years after his death, scientists say they have determined what killed Hachiko, the legendary Akita whose story has been immortalized in his native Japan and the rest of the world.

Japan’s most famous dog — though rumors have persisted for decades that worms did him in, or that he swallowed a chicken skewer that ruptured his stomach — had heart and lung cancer, scientists now say.

Hachiko became legendary for the loyalty he showed by waiting for his owner every day at a train station — for 10 years after his master died.

Hachiko died in 1935 at the age of 13. After his death, researchers at what is now the University of Tokyo performed an autopsy on Hachiko’s body and discovered roundworms in his heart and liquid collected in his abdomen.

Using more sophisticated tests like MRI’s,  the Mainichi Daily News reports, a team of scientists at the University of Tokyo team analyzed Hachiko’s preserved organs and discovered large cancers in the heart and lungs. They speculated that the cancer may have spread from the lungs to the heart. Hachiko also had filariasis (a worm-caused diseased), and it’s possible that could have caused his death as well, said professor Hiroyuki Nakayama, part of the research team.

Hachiko’s preserved organs are displayed at a University of Tokyo resource center in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, along with a bust of his owner. A “stuffed” Hachiko is also on display at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. A statue of Hachiko was erected in his honor at Shibuya Station.

Hachiko accompanied his owner, a university professor named Eisaburo Uyeno, to the train station every day and watched him leave for work. Every evening the dog would be waiting for him when he returned. When Uyeno died, Hachiko continued going to the train station every day to wait for his master for about ten years.

The legend has been told in numerous forms in the 75 years since, most recently as a childrens’ book and a 2009 movie remake, re-set in Rhode Island, starring Richard Gere.

Getting (a little) serious about dog poop

Every day in Seattle, where dogs outnumber children, 41,250 pounds of poop exits dogs and lands on the otherwise fair city, according to the Seattle Times.

In a year (who says newspapers don’t cover the important stuff anymore) that adds up to 15.1 million pounds, but it also leads to a lot of confrontations between neighbors, between dog owners and animal-control officers, and between dog owners and passers-by — not to mention steppers-in.

And, actually, it is important stuff.

The non-scoopers among us — and you know who you are — aren’t just contributing to an erosion in the quality of life, but to health problems as well.

When it rains, as it often does in Seattle, dog poop can run into storm drains, and then into lakes and streams and eventually Puget Sound. In Baltimore, it can take a similar route and end up in the Inner Harbor, and other, more frolic-worthy waterways.

Dave Ward, principal watershed steward for Snohomish County in Washington, notes that kids thinking they are playing in a pristine stream could actually be coming into contact with roundworms, E. coli and Giardia.

“Pet waste comes consistently to the top as one of the principal sources of contamination in urban waterways,” Ward said.

The Times story goes on to recount some of the nasty confrontations dog poop has led to in Seattle, where citations ($54 a whack) can be issued not just for failing to scoop poop, but for failure to carry proper poop-scooping equipment.

In 2007, Seattle — home to an estimated 125,000 dogs — issued 65 citations related to dog poop, from failing to scoop in parks to allowing accumulation of feces on one’s property.

(Graphic by Clyde Peterson, official ohmidog! cartoonist)