When my colleague at the animal shelter called me to meet a dog that had just been brought in, I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. It was about 10 years ago, and a man had come in saying he’d found three dogs and couldn’t keep them. I wondered if I was on Candid Camera: I’d worked at the shelter as a vet for 20 years, and had seen thousands of animals, but never anything like this.
As he walked them towards the shelter, someone said, “He’s meant to be bringing three dogs, but that one’s a pig or something.” Quasi Modo, as I later named her, was around a year old and had a birth defect called short spine syndrome: everything fused together in her back and she couldn’t move her head. She still has to turn her whole body to look at anything.
Humankind’s long friendship with the dog may have begun at least twice. Grey wolves in western Eurasia may have started hanging around Stone Age hunter-gatherer clans even before humans and dogs clinched the relationship perhaps 14,000 years ago in east Asia.
New research based on DNA samples from prehistoric hounds, as well as genetic studies of modern dogs and wolves, suggests that two populations of grey wolves – separated by thousands of miles and thousands of years – may have begun the connection that turned Canis lupus into Canis lupus familiaris.
“Animal domestication is a rare thing and a lot of evidence is required to overturn the assumption that it happened just once in any species,” said Professor Greger Larson, one of the authors and the director of the Wellcome Trust palaeogenomics and bio-archaeology research network at Oxford University.
Our ancient DNA evidence, combined with the archaeological record of early dogs, suggests that we need to reconsider the number of times dogs were domesticated independently. Maybe the reason there hasn’t been a consensus about where dogs were domesticated is because everyone has been a little bit right.”
The domestication of cattle, sheep and goats began with the first farm settlements in the Fertile Crescent at the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. The only animal known to have been domesticated twice is the pig, in both east Asia and the near East. The same story might be true for Rover and Fido. If so, grey wolves must have started hanging around human settlements for food scraps: the step from scavenger to hunting companion would have taken many generations.
Click here to see photos from the annual Wiener race held in Bristol, Connecticut, helping to raise funds for the Connecticut Dachshund Rescue and Pet Services.
A series of images by Slovenian photographer Katja Jemec, I Looked Up and There You Were, has an unusual angle on rescued dogs:
Couscous went visiting on the weekend to see her Aunt Sophie:
News from friends in the US…
Yesterday we went into London to see the ENO’s performance of The Mikado. While having coffee in the break we stood next to an old poster from the venue (The Coliseum). The Great Lafayette was mentioned so we took a look on the WWW to find out a little more. What a fabulous story.
To read about the Great Layafette and his best friend Beauty, click here.
When I next visit Edinburgh I plan to visit the gave of Layafette and Beauty.
We haven’t tried these but I want to reference the article so we can give some of these a try:
Runners in a half marathon must have thought they had gone barking mad when an Alabama dog got ‘fur-ther’ than expected and finished in the top 10, a paw-some performance. Ludivine, a two-and-a-half-year-old hound dog, snuck out of her owner’s yard in Elkmont, Alabama, on 16 January and wandered to the starting area of the town’s inaugural half marathon, the Trackless Train Trek.
Along with 165 runners, Ludivine then ran the half marathon, finishing in seventh place (unofficially speaking), despite wandering off during portions of the race to mingle with cheerleaders on the trail and to examine a rabbit’s carcass. Her owner, April Hamlin, did not realize Ludivine had even left the yard until friends who were volunteering at the race texted her photos of her dog.