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I hate when that happens! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsSaturday Survey: Don’t Eat That!!Is your dog allowed on the bed?Friday Funny: Dog FeetFriday Funny: Some Guard Dog You Are!Friday Funny: Smart Dog!Friday Funny: A Dog Scorned…
More than a decade ago, when I was still living year-round in East Hampton, I discovered a dog portraitist of uncanny skill. Her name was Carol Saxe and working only from photographs, she was able to capture the distinctive essence of every dog she put into a painting – many of which were single portraits. I went to her studio to admire her work and happened upon a painting she was doing for a family that wanted a portrait in which they could see all the Corgis they had ever owned – even from the parent’s own childhoods. It sound like something Queen Elizabeth might want!
In this case, the people commissioning the portrait asked that all the dogs be placed as if they were alive at the same time – and put them at their current beach front house, which was a delightful background with a wide porch on a shingled house, overlooking dunes with beach grass and a wide beach below. Carol had painted this setting from a series of photos that were clipped to her easel, along with old photos and newer ones of the 8 or 10 dogs. She had gathered all the dogs of this family’s life into their current life and placed the Corgis judiciously around the property, some on a chair or bench, others under an umbrella, others playing with each other.
What I noticed straight away was that each of these Corgis looked subtly different from the others. None of them was a generic Corgi- each had his own coloring, tilt of their head, and expression: they were clearly each distinctive portraits. I wanted something just like that myself and decided on the spot to give it to myself as a gift – a way to look back on the many different dogs who had graced my life, from the several generations of Bedlington Terriers that began in my childhood, to the Golden Retriever Roma and her sidekick Cocker Spaniel Amalfi, to Yogi Bear the rescued Rottweiler and the series of rescued Weimaraners who followed Lulu and Billy Blue.
Here’s that portrait – and another more impressionistic one (above) she did of my two Weimaraner boys, Teddy and Billy Blue, along with Yogi Beat the Rottie – a wonderful triumvirate of big boys sadly long gone, but whom I can still gaze upon lovingly every day.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.
Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.
Have a great weekend! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsFriday Funny: Playing FetchFriday Funny: Some Guard Dog You Are!Friday Funny: Dog FeetFriday Funny: Smart Dog!Friday Funny: A Dog Scorned…Friday Funny: Too Tired to Help With The Dishes
I didn’t think I’d do another one of these, but my conscience has been dragged back into it.
Jemima Harrison posted this morning (my time) about a friend’s flat-coated retriever who died at the age of 7. Both the dog’s parents were dead before they were 8 years old.
I used to follow this dog’s owner’s blog, way back when there was a more active dog blogosphere. I remember when she was born, and I remember when her mother died.
I’ve always admired this breed. It was once the most common retriever in Britain, and I love all those old paintings and photographs of the dogs at pheasant and partridge shoots.
At one point in my life, I thought I wanted one of these dogs. They were sleeker and more agile than golden retrievers, and I’d always preferred golden retrievers that came in that body type, even if the show ring never did.
But then I looked at the health of the dogs, and I decided that I would pass.
A golden retriever is already a notorious tumor factor. That there could be a retriever in worse shape with regard to cancer was something that really did bother me.
I used to wonder if this breed could be made more viable if they did some crossbreeding, but virtually every breeder in the breed is so opposed to it that having rational discussions with them is like talking to a creationist or someone who believes that Bush did 9/11. Their job, regardless of the facts, is to come up with ways to justify keeping the gene pool walled off.
And at that point, I knew the problem would never be solved.
It’s taken me a while to realize that no amount of explanation will change anything.
It’s that way with just about every breed of dog. If it’s not flat-coats and cancer, then it’s bulldogs and everything that’s wrong with them. Or pugs.
After doing this for years and years, I’ve stopped having any confidence that any of these problems will be solved, and I’m not wasting my time.
So we’ll hold onto closed studbooks, “linebreeding for health” or some other delusion, until we hit the eventually genetic dead-ends of several breeds.
The population of canids known as “domestic dogs” will continue on, because the vast majority of North Americans will choose things other than registered dogs. And the village, street, and pariah dog populations will still be there in other parts of the world.
But as for the Western “purebred” dog, its future is quite tenuous indeed.
And when you’re powerless to stop something, you’re better off giving yourself some distance.
That’s what I have done.
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BAD RAP Blog
Jimmy Stewart – a national treasure! Enjoy. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsIs your dog allowed on the bed?Saturday Survey: Don’t Eat That!!Worst-behaved dog ever!Albuquerque Dog Eats the Family JewelsSuper Dog NannyShould You Get a Dog?
Last night I got to rock out at the last North American stop of the Guns n Roses “Not in This Lifetime” tour. In a moment that made me realize just how old I’ve gotten, I realized the last time they played San Diego- in 1992- I was also there. I was in high school, high on life (and probably a few other things unintentionally, as tended to happen at those arena shows), idealistic about the future. Guns n Roses was the biggest name in rock at the time, at the height of their fame and the zenith of their success.
Things fell apart for them shortly thereafter.
Axl Rose spent the next two decades litigating with his former bandmates, holed up in a mansion somewhere getting plastic surgery and churning out less than awesome music. While his star faded, the rest of us went on with our lives, going to school and having careers and starting families. You know, growing up. Such is life.
I had low expectations for the show, to be honest. The band fell apart due to Axl’s temperamental nature and the shows often started three hours late and ended after one or two songs. When he was on, he was ON, and the rest of the time he was a disaster. He was the rock god equivalent of the vet who burns out in a flame of glory and leaves veterinary medicine forever to hole up on a lake somewhere to nurse their wounds in solitude. (Not that I know what that urge feels like, of course.)
I was not the only one who gave this reunion short shrift. The first time he walked out on stage at a warmup show, he broke his foot and everyone said, “Oh, here we go. This is going to be a disaster.” There’s a reason Spinal Tap was a cautionary tale, they said. Once you leave something great, you’re done. You can never go back. This is no longer going to happen:
The murmurings were nonstop: Axl’s had a ton of plastic surgery. He looks old (hint: he is, as are we all.) His voice isn’t the same. He can’t move his hips the way he did when he was 20. The band still all hates each other.
All of this is true.
But they went out there anyway, and played a monster three hour set despite the creaky joints and the lower octaves. They came out on time and nailed everything. It was like being back in 1992 except even better because I can legally drink! When’s the last time you sat in a packed stadium arena listening to a power ballad with fireworks onstage and a 10 minute guitar solo? It was before cell phones for sure. And it was awesome. Yes, things changed, but a lot of those changes were for the better.
There’s actually something super metal about getting old and refusing to let people stop you from all the stuff you’ve been told you can’t do any longer. About getting up in front of a PACKED stadium with your face looking exactly like what everyone said it would look like and singing about your serpentine with your hips moving exactly two inches in either direction and waiting for the cameras to zoom in on your before flipping everyone the bird- and hearing them all cheer. That takes some brass ones, my friends.
In 2012, a reporter asked him if Guns n Roses would ever get back together and he replied, “Not in this lifetime.”And yet here we are, a little older, a little wrinklier, a little wiser, and clutching our Zippo apps that won’t burn your fingers in lieu of the actual lighters.
You can change your mind. You can go back. You can embrace what time has changed and laugh about it and refuse to apologize for it and kind of love it. It’s the only way to live, really.
I never in a million years would have thought Axl Rose would be doling out inspirational life messages at 54 years of age but I guess I was wrong too. It’s never to late to burn down the house.
Guardian angels come in all forms. May yours be watching over you this weekend. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsFriday Funny: Too Tired to Help With The DishesFriday Funny: No Worries!Friday Funny: Get Well SoonFriday Funny: Scary VisitorsFriday Funny: Some Guard Dog You Are!Friday Funny: Smart Dog!
Within Canis, there are lots of bogus species proposed. A few years back, a team of researchers in Australia made some skull measurements of dingoes and decided that we should declare the dingo a new species distinct from the domestic dog and wolf. Never mind that every single genetic study on dingoes clearly puts them within the East Asian dog clade. A dingo is a feral dog very closely related to things like chow chows and akita inu.
Comparative morphology once declared the Japanese chin a distinct species, complete with their own genus, Dysodes. Never that such a thing wouldn’t pass the smell test now, it is still being tried on dingoes.
Within the genus Canis, there has always been a desire for some to split up species. Morphological variation is really great in the more wide-ranging species, but thus far, every proposed new species has come out lacking. Molecular techniques have discovered one species in this genus, the golden wolf of Africa, and there might be a distinct species of wolf in the Himalayas.
But all the rest have come up short. A recent study of wolf and dog genomes revealed that if you make dogs and dingoes a species, the entire species of Canis lupus becomes paraphyletic. So unless we want to abandon cladistics as our classification model, we pretty much have to keep dogs and dingoes within the wolf species. The red and Eastern wolves have also come up short in these studies,
But that’s not where some people want to go. In fact, as of March this year, there was a paper that came out calling for classifying the Eastern coyote as Canis oriens.
I think this is quite unwise. For one thing, this ecomorph of coyote, which does have both wolf and domestic dog ancestry, is pretty new. Further, there is no evidence that this population is fully reproductively isolated from dogs, wolves, or the original Western coyote population. There might not be a lot of crossbreeding with domestic dogs.
But Western coyotes that are free of dog or wolf blood can still come into the East.There are no massive barriers that stop these coyotes mating with coyotes that might have wolf or dog in them.
Roland Kays, who was part of one of the original genome-wide studies of North American wolves, recently wrote a piece arguing against calling the Eastern coyote “a coywolf” or a distinct species. In the piece, Kays argues that this population of coyotes is not reproductively isolated, so it really is premature to call them a species now.
I would argue that the Eastern coyote is actually an ecomorph that is evolving to live in the human-dominated world that was once woodlands of Eastern North America, and an ecomorph is not a species. It could become one, but it takes quite a bit of time and isolation in order to do so.
In fact, I think the big take away from all the most recent study is that coyotes are a small type of wolf.
And that means that all this splitting we’ve done in Canis isn’t really all that helpful in understanding their exact biology and natural history.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t species of wild dog to be discovered. The case to split red foxes into two species is quite strong, and there is also a strong possibility that the gray foxes of the West and of the East are distinct species. The new species of wild dog will be found in creatures in like these, not in the larger dog species.
But Canis is where the charismatic dogs are. Wolves and their kin capture our imaginations. They are the closest relatives of the domestic dogs, and the domestic dog is descended from the Old World wolf. Within domestic dogs, we’ve been splitting them up into different varieties for thousands of years, and in the last two hundred, we’ve been doing so almost insanely. This has had to have had some effect, perhaps subconsciously, on how we view their closest relatives.
At one time, people used to go nuts naming things. Clinton Hart Merriam named dozens of species of bear in North America, which we now all recognize as belonging to one species. There is a herpetologist in Australia who does much the same thing with snakes and lizards in that country.
We live in a time when most of the larger fauna have become known to science. Pretty much the only way new species can be discovered is through trying to race molecular evolution. We don’t live in those times of gentlemen naturalists taking ships up the Congo River in search of new species of leopard.
We’ve just cataloged so much nature since that time. We don’t know it all, but we know a lot more than we did in 1880 or 1920.
And while I’d argue that the term “species” has to have a subjective element to it, it can’t be so subjective that it become squishy and useless.
And that’s unfortunately what we’re getting with things like Canis dingo and Canis oriens.
They really aren’t that much better than Dysodes pravus.