Friday Funny: Well-Protected

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!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Canis oriens is not a good species

eastern coyote

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,

And, I would argue, so has the coyote. Because coyotes split from wolves only very recently, I think a case can be made to classify them as Canis lupus latrans.

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.

 

 

 

 


Natural History

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Noticeable Results: Surrey Animal Resource Centre Donation Report

Surrey Animal Resource Center and Halo Pets Donation

The City of Surrey Animal Resource Centre in British Columbia is a municipal animal shelter that cares for all domestic animals and occassionally livestock in the City of Surrey. Animals come into their care typically when found running at large and are housed at the facility throughout a stray hold period in hopes that their owners will contact the shelter.

When you choose Halo pet food, made from natural, whole food ingredients, your pet won’t be the only one with a radiant coat, clear eyes and renewed energy. Halo feeds it forward, donating over 1.5 million bowls of food annually. As always, Halo will donate a bowl to a shelter every time YOU buy.

Halo is proud to partner with Freekibble.com and GreaterGood.org to achieve noticeable results for shelter pets together.

Here is a recent report from Surrey Animal Resource Centre:

Surrey-Kitten“This year we launched our foster program for moms and kittens. The Halo Food donation has been a lifesaver, allowing us to have just one food type to send with the foster homes, and being an all-life stages food no transition was needed. Since these fosters are out of the shelter for up to 9 weeks, it would have been

a challenge to find enough of one food to send with the foster, and then transition the animals again when they arrive back for adoption. Our fosters are able to exclusively feed the Halo Salmon food, and the kibble is a great size for when the kittens start to wean. It also appeals to our adopters as Halo is readily available at PetSmart Canada and is a food they can feel happy continuing to feed their new family member.

This grant is fantastic and really came at a great time for us, as we had just transitioned staff over at the shelter, and were (and still are) just building our programs. We really appreciate the food from Halo, and the support from PetSmart.” 

Thank you Surrey Animal Resource Centre for making a noticeable difference for pets in your community!

Surrey-Kitten-2

Halo Pets

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dieting on the Buddy System- Losing Weight with Your Dog

Labrador Dog

You know how much better it is to embark on a project with a friend? Especially a task that isn’t so much fun – like cleaning out your basement…or going on a diet?!

I had a light bulb moment when I realized how hard it is to get the weight off your dog – fat that you have put on there with over feeding.

Weight loss has been proven to work really well when you have someone going through it with you – which is why Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and similar programs have given people satisfying results. The trick, of course, isn’t just to drop the weight, but to do it slowly, surely, and then maintain that lower weight with careful eating choices and habits. By having a diet buddy in your dog, you can watch her weight drop down little by little, and be encouraged to keep at it yourself- or vice-versa.

Even if you stop giving constant treats, you still may not see any weight loss from cutting out the snacks. For some dogs, the problem has to do with eating a totally carbohydrate heavy diet – all kibble – which can leave a dog hungry enough to beg pitifully while packing on the pounds!

Most of us eat too many carbs, too. We all have some weight we’d be happy to shed. So why not go on a gentle, manageable weight loss regime alongside your dog!

The first change you can make is to substitute half a can of a good quality dog food like Spot’s Stew (or a ½ cup of cooked meat, chicken or fish) for ½ cup of the kibble you’ve been giving. The real meat protein and the natural fat in fresh food can keep a dog feeling satisfied for longer.

That’s what we did in the Halo Healthy Weight Challenge and not only helped take the weight off our participants but they changed their eating habits forever and are proud of it! John’s Xena the Pomeranian continues to stay in touch about never having gained back the weight she happily shed.

For yourself, substitute low-carb vegetables (and hold the butter or sauce) for the rice, potatoes or pasta you might usually eat alongside your protein. Simply lightening the carb load can make a change in metabolism,. Once you get a greater awareness of how many biscuits you give your dog throughout the day (and chips or cookies for yourself) you can switch to some vegetable snacks for you and your dog in between two satisfying, meat-inclusive meals.

It’s great to have someone to turn to when you crave a doughnut instead of a carrot stick, and your buddy system can help you past that moment. It’s usually the belly bulge or the handful of fat on either side that we want to lose. It takes determination and patience for a change in food choices to slowly have their effect, for us and our canine pals.

We all know that our dogs are generally too heavy- they are carrying pounds of extra fat around their necks, shoulders, waists and chests. That extra fat on dogs has been scientifically proven to take as much as two years off a Labrador-type dog’s life – as well as lowering her quality of life because running and playing are much harder when you are lugging around extra weight.

It’s always advised to check with your vet to make sure your dog is “healthy enough to go on a gentle weight loss program” but I can pretty much assure you that any vet would be thrilled to know his clients are working to manage the most serious pet health problem we have in this country: fat cats and pudgy dogs!

Baby carrots to the rescue! Lightly steamed green beans! Strips of red pepper! Stalks of celery! Keep a bowl of them in the fridge (sprinkled with water to keep them appealing) and share them with your dog, making it a game for her by tossing it into her mouth or thrown for her to chase.

Change what goes in your dog’s bowl – change your own meal habits – and before long you’ll both have a lighter spring in your step!

newtraciepic2

RPLN-NewLogo-ProudSponsor175x197 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.

Halo Pets

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prince Lorenzo Borghese Helps Georgia Rescues

A former reality star with a royal pedigree, Prince Lorenzo Borghese– who end in search of a soul mate in season nine of The Bachelor— helps our four-legged friends in their search for a…



[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


DogTipper

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Download a free copy of The Dog Treat Travel Cookbook!

If you love to make treats for your dog–and travel with your dog, we’ve got a fun, free cookbook to share with you: The Dog Treat Travel Cookbook! We’ve gathered some of our top…



[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


DogTipper

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The bush dog might not be what we thought it was

bush dog

We often talk about the South American wild dogs. The South American wild dogs are a sister group to Canis and its allies, and in South America, evolution allowed dogs to go many unusual directions.

When the dog family phylogenetic tree was drawn from sequencing the genome of a boxer, I was amazed that it put the bush dog, which is sort of a wild version of the dachshund, as being a sister species to the maned wolf, which has very long legs.

There was actually a big debate as to where the bush dog actually fit. When I was learning about dog evolution as a child, I had books that told me that the dhole, African wild dog, and the bush dog were all closely related because of their trenchant heel dentition. One of their carnassials has a single, blade-like cusp that increases their ability to bolt shear meat.

The phylogenetic tree that was created from the dog genome sequence pretty much ended this discussion. The dhole and African wild dog were both found to be closely related to Canis, more so than the side-striped and black-backed jackals. The bush dog was with the maned wolf and the other South American canids, and the trenchant heel dentition was the result of convergent evolution.

End of story.

Or so I thought.

In 2012, a study was released that that was meant to update the divergence times with all extant carnivora. The researchers used large samples of DNA and other characters to determine when these animals diverged from each other. Some of these “other characters were things like vocalization and scent gland similarities.

Its phylogenetic tree for Canidae is similar to that in the aforementioned paper on the domestic dog genome, except that it greatly increases the divergence time between species. For example, it has the Urocyon foxes diverging from the rest of Canidae 15-16 million years ago, instead of the 9-10 million years that the dog genome paper found.  It also has the golden jackal and the coyote being sister species, and the wolf is not the closest relative of the coyote. We now know this is very much in error, and it probably comes from the non-genetic “source trees” that were used in the analysis. It has has the Tibetan fox as being related to the extinct Falkland Islands wolf, which happened because there are almost no genetic studies on the Tibetan fox. Both the Tibetan fox and the Falkland Islands wolf had kind of weird squared off bodies, though, and this type of analysis does use morphology.

It has the dhole as being closely related to the wolf, golden jackal, and coyote.

But it has the African wild dog splitting off much sooner from this clade, and what’s more, it has the bush dog as its sister species!

One should be skeptical of this finding, because of its use of so many non-genetic “source trees,” it is going to miss the problem that occurs so much with dog species. Convergent evolution and phenotypic plasticity run riot in the family, and it is really hard to figure out relationships between species using just morphology and behavior alone.

This would make a lot of sense if it were confirmed with better genetic studies. Bush dogs are very weird animals. They are the only South American canids that hunt in packs. They really don’t have a rich fossil record, and it is pretty hard to connect them to other South American wild dogs.

It is tempting that they might be something that weird, but we need more evidence.

If they really did turn out not to be part of the South American clade of wild dogs and to be closer to the African wild dog, it would be a real shocker.

But not entirely.

The questions that would arise from it would be how it evolved.  We have evidence of Xenocyon coming into North America. Xenocyon is traditionally thought of as the ancestor of the African wild dog and the dhole, but it may not be. But there is also evidence of dholes or dhole-like dogs that are actually closer to the AWD coming into North America and making it as far south as Mexico.

So maybe there is something to it.

But this sort of study does have its limits. It’s trying to morph both classical and molecular techniques for taxonomy, and those tend not to hold up very well.

But I still think it’s worth examining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Natural History

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I am a board member and director with the Miami Co…

I am a board member and director with the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation. Although Miami-Dade County is the only county in FL that has BSL the rest of the state is seriously hampered by homeowners associations and landlords with breed specific policies. One of the approaches we are trying to encourage is a professional evaluation process, where any potential homeowner or renter on they own dime many select from associations/landlord's approved list of dog behaviorists to have their dog evaluated regardless of the breed. This way regardless of the breed you only have approved dogs living there and eliminated potentially problem dogs. I would rather have a well socialized Rottie or Pitty living next door than a poorly socialized Beagle or Retriever. People may also find things out about their own dogs they were not aware of.
BAD RAP Blog

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A mere thank you for all the work that you do to i…

A mere thank you for all the work that you do to improve the lives of the animals in your care seems inadequate. So many lives would have been lost without your unwavering commitment to prevent that from happening. All of your blogs have been so incredibly educational & beneficial, not only to the general public but to those of us in the rescue community as well. However, your blog about Olive deeply touched my heart. Sadly I've met a few Olives who will never have the opportunity to truly live. Exist, yes. But still shackled to their emotional pain, with no serious course of action to help free them from that anguish. Olive's 'recovery' is a testimony that the mental well-being of all animals should be a much higher priority in rescue. Please continue reminding all of us do-gooders that we have much more to learn about animal rights & welfare. PTSD isn't just a human diagnosis…
BAD RAP Blog

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Shelter Saturday: August 13

As athletes from around the globe go for the gold in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio, homeless dogs in shelters across America are hoping to win the love of a forever pet parent with a heart of…



[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


DogTipper

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment