Dog News Round Up III

December 8, 2011

Here we go again with another catch-up of links to compelling Dog News links. . .

• An art book of photography of chewed dog toys? Yes, it does exist. See this piece on Chewed in the New York Times.

• The UK Telegraph reports on a study from the  journal Learning & Behaviour that shows dogs can instinctively sense a friendly face here.

• The dwindling number of Americans who still have discretionary income are lavishing it on their pets, and not, say, donating to local human food banks, according to ‘For the Dogs’ Has a Whole New Meaning in the New York Times. Another example of how needlessly indulgent and narcissistic many pet owners are.

• Learn Five Surprising Facts about Dog Walking in The Week.

• The eugenics movement and the rise of a middle class the last quarter of the 19th century in England were strong contributing factors in the creation of fixed dog breed standards.  Ever since then, breed standards have been, at best, a mixed blessing for our dogs for the same reasons that we prohibit marrying our (human) first cousins.

A fixed or closed gene pool allows negative recessive traits to come to the fore. As an example, our pure bred Lab suffers from hip dysplasia at 9 years old. It’s my belief that we have done our dogs no favors when we breed them to extremes from tea cup Chihuahuas to Great Danes. An excellent piece in the New York Times explores this issue in Can the Bulldog Be Saved? by Benoit Denizet-Lewis.

• Progress on a Birth Control Pill for Dogs is explored in The Week.

• I recently learned that there’s a Patron Saint for Dogs, St. Roche. As an atheist I don’t know if my opinion counts for much, but I see a downside to this. St. Roche is also the patron saint of bachelors, diseased cattle, falsely accused people, invalids, Istanbul, surgeons, grave diggers, tile makers, second hand dealers, pilgrims and apothecaries. What a bizarre assortment to add dogs to; I mean, diseased cattle? Second-hand dealers?

• Pet insurance has never seemed like a good investment to me. Last year I ran the numbers with VPI and found that I would spend more with their coverage than without, a position supported by an article in Consumer Reports. Now a dark side emerges, people abusing their dogs to collect on pet insurance policies. Read about it here in The Week. More proof, to my mind, of Mark Twain’s saying,  “Heaven goes by favor; if it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

• An infographic at the website Hunch explores the difference between Dog People and Cat People.

• I’m skeptical about stories of dogs keeping vigil at their owner’s graves. This is not to say that dogs cannot grieve the loss of their human companions, but going without food or water at a gravesite is clearly not normal canine behavior. Theses stories make us feel better but, like the case of Edinburgh’s famous Greyfriars Bobby, when investigated they often fall apart.

Learn about the real Greyfriars Bobby  in Jan Bondeson’s excellent Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities. It turns out that the story was an invention designed to boost tourism.

The Huffington Post has a story about a Loyal Dog in China refusing to leave his owner’s grave. But the HuffPo lives and breathes over-hyped and thinly sourced stories, it’s not really news, it’s Fark!  The Week has a better write up on The phenomenon of grieving dogs: The ultimate loyalty.

• Tracing Unscooped Dog Waste Back to the Culprit explains how DNA kits are bring used to bring undisciplined dog owners to heel (Sorry) in one apartment complex in Lebanon, N.H., from the New York Times.

• Can dogs used in combat suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome? Read about it here in The Week.




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