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Tag: wolf

Tweeting wolf: Olympian’s video of “wolf” in the hallway was Jimmy Kimmel hoax

With help from an Olympic luger, Twitter and a dog who is at least part wolf, Jimmy Kimmel has once again put one over on the news media.

Then again, fooling the news media has a very low degree of difficulty these days.

Kimmel conspired with 21-year-old luger Kate Hansen, under whose name the video was posted on Twitter and elsewhere.

“I’m pretty sure this is a wolf wandering my hall in Sochi,” she said in a comment accompanying the video on YouTube.

Pretty much every major news outlet quickly picked up the story Thursday, echoing the Olympian’s cry of wolf, and apparently forgetting the entire moral of that fable.

USA Today was among those setting the record straight today — generally in a humorous vein that didn’t focus on how any laziness on the media’s part might have contributed to being duped.

Hansen, who finished competing Feb. 11 and is staying at the Olympic village, tweeted the video with the hashtag #sochiproblems and #sochifail. The hashtag was commonly used by visitors to Sochi for complaints surrounding the Games, including some about stray dogs.

Kimmel came clean last night, revealing the set created in the studio to resemble the dormitory corridor, and the wolf-dog, named Rugby.

Hansen appeared, via Skype, on the show as well, and said she has experienced some repercussions for the role she played.

Does doggy bling date to prehistoric times?

burieddog

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)

Heavy meddle: Creed works as wolf repellant

A 13-year-old boy in Norway credits the Creed song “Overcome,” cranked up to full volume, with saving him from a pack of wolves.

Walter Eikrem was walking home from a school bus stop in Rakkestdad, listening to the band through his headphones, when he noticed four wolves lurking nearby on a hillside, not far from his family’s farmhouse.

According to Spiegel Online, the boy heeded advice his mother had given him and didn’t start running.  “The worst thing you can do is run away because doing so just invites the wolves to chase you down,” he said, “… but I was so afraid that I couldn’t even run away if I’d wanted to.”

Instead, he unplugged the headphones from his mobile phone, and turned the volume up. Between the heavy metal, and Walter shouting and flailing his arms, it was enough to drive the wolves off.

“They just turned around and simply trotted away,” Walter said.

(Photos by Rune Blekken / TV 2)

Study: Dogs originated in Middle East

untitledA new genetic analysis indicates that man’s best friend descended from Middle Eastern wolves, contradicting previous suggestions that the dog first evolved from wolves in Asia.

“Dogs seem to share more genetic similarity with Middle Eastern gray wolves than with any other wolf population worldwide,” said UCLA’s Robert Wayne, who along with his colleagues studied more than 48,000 DNA sequences in dogs and grey wolves from across the world. ”Genome-wide analysis now directly suggests a Middle East origin for modern dogs.”

The journal Nature reports on the latest development in the ongoing debate on its blog, The Great Beyond.

Previous work on mitochondrial DNA suggested East Asia was a more likely origin, while other studies have pinpointed Africa.

“This new Nature paper is a much more comprehensive analysis because we have analyzed 48,000 markers distributed throughout the nuclear genome to try to conclude where the most likely ancestral population is,” Wayne said.

The new paper is more consistent with archaeological evidence, with the oldest dog remains coming from the Middle East around 12,000 years ago, Belgium 31,000 years ago and western Russia 15,000 years ago.

The new analysis did find that some ancient east Asian dog breeds have similarities with Chinese wolves, suggesting there was some mixing between these animals after domestication, or that these breeds actually derived from Chinese wolves.

Dog’s head in pipe was tip of the iceberg

A six-inch wide piece of steel pipe had sat in Kay Simmons backyard in Colorado for a long time, but only this week did her wolf-dog hybrid, Marina, decide, for reasons unknown, to stick her head in it.

The 3-year-old dog is recovering from cuts, scrapes and bruises after spending more than seven hours Tuesday with her skull wedged in the 8-foot-long pipe.

“It was a pretty terrible day,” Simmons, 73, told the Boulder Daily Camera Wednesday before leaving to pick up her pet from the veterinarian.

On Friday, though the Daily Camera reported that Simmons has had a lot of terrible days:

She has a lengthy history of animal violations, and last year authorities killed five of her wolf-dogs after they attacked neighborhood pets, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Simmons,  who lives on the Boulder County side of the border with Jefferson County, has at least four open “animal violation” cases in Jefferson County, into which her wolf hybrids sometimes wander.

“She has the largest file in the office,” said Camille Paczosa, animal control officer and supervisor.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has taken more than 50 complaints about Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her dozens of times since 1985. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office has taken at least 16 reports of “dangerous animals at large” and similar violations since 1986.

One neighbor said he’s glad the animal is OK, but he finds it “ironic, if not insulting,” that the Sheriff’s Office and firefighters spent so much time and money “to save one of these animals but let the documented hazard to humans go on for almost 15 years.”

Simmons told authorities this week that one of her dogs started “making a racket” about noon Tuesday. When she went outside she found Marina squirming to free herself from the pipe.

Nearly 20 people from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, the Coal Creek Fire Department and the Boulder Emergency Squad tried to free her, using everything from vegetable oil to a spatula. Finally, one of the firefighters — who also works as a plumber — used a pipe saw to cut off most of the steel, leaving just one foot of pipe covering the dog’s head. That allowed crews to transport her safely to the veterinary clinic.

Once at the clinic, a “grinding tool” was used to cut a triangle out of the pipe. When Marina was finally freed from the pipe she “sprang up” and appeared to be fine. She’s expected to make a full recovery.

But Wednesday’s feel-good story took a turn later in the week.

Steve McAdoo, who has lived near Simmons for about six years, told the Daily Camera he’s afraid for his 3- and 5-year-old children’s lives after four of Simmons’ wolf-dogs “ripped to shreds and almost killed” his 35-pound spaniel, Molly, in August.

After the attack on that same night, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the wolf-dogs attacked other animals and caused property damage. As a result, the Sheriff’s Office killed five of the hybrids.

“Two weeks later, she got five more,” McAdoo said. “And she’s been doing this for years.”

In August 2003, Jefferson County animal control officers took three of Simmons’ wolf-dogs and charged her with having a dangerous dog. In 2000, authorities took a report of a dog being killed by wolves in that area, but they were unable to identify the wolves that attacked, according to Jefferson County officials.

(Photo: Paul Aiken/Boulder Daily Camera)

Moscow’s strays: A study in reverse evolution

On the streets of Moscow, the evolution of dog is playing out in reverse.

So contends Andrei Poyarkov, a biologist and wolf specialist who has dedicated himself to studying the city’s vast population of strays — the 30,000-plus dogs that, while learning such new urban skills as using the subways, are in reality moving back to something closer to a wolf-like state.

His efforts were recounted in an enlightening piece in yesterdays Financial Times.

Poyarkov began studying the strays in 1979, starting with those living near his apartment and the ones he encountered on his way to work. He made recordings of the sounds that the strays made, and began to study their social organization. He photographed them and mapped where each dog lived.

Poyarkov, who works at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, says Moscow’s strays are somewhere between house pets and wolves, in the early stages of the shift from the domesticated back towards the wild. It’s a process that he believes can’t be reversed, at least not in individual dogs. The strays are resistant to domestication, and many can’t stand being confined indoors.

Most of Moscow’s strays rarely wag their tails, are wary of humans and show no signs of ­affection towards them. A few remain comfortable with people, but more have moved on to a second stage, where they will approach people only to get food.

A third group interact mainly with other strays and get their food from garbage bins.

The last of Poyarkov’s groups are the wild dogs. “There are dogs living in the city that are not socialized to people. They know people, but view them as dangerous. Their range is extremely broad, and they are ­predators. They catch mice, rats and the occasional cat. They live in the city, but as a rule near industrial complexes, or in wooded parks. They are nocturnal and walk about when there are fewer people on the streets.”

The Wolf in the Parlor

wolfintheparlorSomething old and something new sent two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Jon Franklin on a quest to document the transition of wild wolf to family pet.

The old thing was a photo — a man and puppy, exhumed from a 12,000-year-old grave. The new thing was a wife — he married a dog lover. Though he’d never been a dog person, Franklin gave in, and soon he and his wife were sharing their home with a clever poodle named Charlie.

Between watching his own dog evolve from puppy to family member, and his interviews and research, Franklin spent 10 years studying the origins and significance of the dog, and its peculiar attachment to humans.

The result is “The Wolf in the Parlor: The Eternal Connection Between Humans and Dogs.”

Franklin — a former science writer for Baltimore’s Evening Sun, now a journalism professor at the University of Maryland –  builds on evolutionary science, archaeology, behavioral science and his firsthand experience, arriving at the conclusion that man and dog are more than just inseparable; they are part and parcel of the same creature.

(Learn more about the latest dog books at ohmidog’s book page, Good Dog Reads.)

Snuppy’s puppies being offered as pets

DSC02429Offspring of Snuppy — the world’s first cloned dog — are being offered to the public by Seoul National University, where Snuppy was created in 2005.

The Korea Times reports that applications are being accepted, and the nine puppies will be given to good homes at no charge.

The puppies aren’t clones themselves, but are the offspring of Snuppy and two female Afghans that were cloned at SNU to serve as his girlfriends, and for research purposes — namely to determine whether two cloned dogs can produce pups the natural way, or at least through artificial insemination.

Snuppy became a father in May last year after impregnating the two female clones, named Bona and Hope. It was the world’s first successful breeding involving only cloned canines. One of the 10 puppies died after birth, but the remaining nine — six males and three females — remain healthy.

Lee Byeong-chun, one of the leaders of the team that created Snuppy, said the school will take online applications until Oct. 31 and offer the puppies to  pet owners for free after a screening process. Each dog will be spayed or neutered.

“We will look through the applications and give the dogs to owners who we believe are most capable of raising them,” Lee said.

Lee’s team used artificial insemination to impregnate the two cloned Afghan hound females with Snuppy’s sperm last year.

Lee collaborated with now-disgraced gene scientist Hwang Woo-suk in the creation of Snuppy in 2005. Hwang was fired from SNU in the following year after his work on cloned human stem cells was exposed as fraudulent.

Since then, both men have continued to clone dogs — Lee at SNU and Hwang at a private facility he opened outside Seoul in 2007.

Lee had also announced plans to mate the world’s first cloned wolf, born in 2006, with other cloned wolves. Those plans took a blow earlier this week when the world’s first cloned wolf, Snuwolf, was found dead in a Seoul zoo.

(Photo: By John Woestendiek)

Researchers say they found birthplace of dog

firstdogs

A team of Swedish and Chinese researchers say they have pinpointed — at least more than it has been pinpointed up to now — the place where, 16,000 years ago, the wolf was tamed and evolved into the dog.

It was in China, on the southern shores of the Yangtze River, they say.

Their findings are contained in an article in the latest issue of scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

“For the first time … it is possible to provide a detailed picture of the dog, with its birthplace, point in time, and how many wolves were tamed,” says Peter Savolainen, a biologist and member of the research team at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm.

Together with Swedish colleagues and a Chinese research team, Savolainen has made a number of new discoveries about the history of the dog — including the most specific date and birthplace yet offered.

“Our earlier findings from 2002 have not been fully accepted, but with our new data there will be greater acceptance. The picture provides much more detail,” says Savolainen.

Savolainen said the research indicates that the dog has a single geographic origin but descends from a large “large number of animals – at least several hundred tamed wolves, probable even more,” according to Science Daily.

The theory that the domestic dog originated in East Asia was challenged earlier this month by an international group of researchers who say African dogs are just as genetically diverse.

That research, based on analyzing blood samples from dogs in Egypt, Uganda and Namibia, shows the DNA of dogs in African villages is just as varied, indicating it could have been where wolves made the transition to become dogs.

(Photo: Science Daily press release)

Theory on origin of domestic dogs challenged

The theory that the domestic dog originated in East Asia has been challenged by an international group of researchers who say African dogs are just as genetically diverse.

The huge genetic diversity of dogs found in East Asia had led many scientists to conclude that it was where the domestication of the dog began.

But newly published research, based on analyzing blood samples from dogs in Egypt, Uganda and Namibia, shows the DNA of dogs in African villages is just as varied, according to the New York Times.

The research was originally aimed at tracking down a newly discovered “small gene” that led to wolves being downsized in their transition to dogs. Instead, as reported in the current issue of  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found information they say calls into question where wolves were first domesticated.

Lead scientist, Adam Boyko of the Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University, says he decided to look at village dogs at least partly because his brother, an anthropologist as the University of California-Davis, was head there on a honeymoon. Also there are more mutts there — dogs more genetically diverse than bred dogs.

It’s the mutts that may hold the key to the learning the origins of dog domestication.

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