Mapping the relationships between different dog breeds is rough (get it?), but a team of scientists at the National Institutes of Health did just that using the DNA of 1,346 dogs from 161 breeds. Their analysis, which appears April 25 in Cell Reports, offers a lot to chew on.
Here are five key findings from the work:
Dogs were bred for specific jobs, and this shows in their genes.
As human lifestyles shifted from hunting and gathering to herding to agriculture and finally urbanization, humans bred dogs (Canis familiaris) accordingly. Then over the last 200 years, more and more breeds emerged within those categories. Humans crossed breeds to create hybrids based on appearance and temperament, and those hybrids eventually became new breeds.
DNA from hybrid dogs backs up historical records.
Genetic backtracking indicates that, for example, mixing between bulldogs and terriers traces back to Ireland…
Ryan asks: If the president has a pet dog, do their bodyguards also watch over his dog like they do his family?
Even before the U.S. president is elected such, if they’re considered a “major candidate” for the job, they get offered Secret Service protection. Whether they accept that protection or not, once elected until the day they die (unless they opt out after leaving office), they will be shadowed by an elite team of Secret Service agents. These individuals, while not actually sworn to do so (contrary to popular belief), are generally expected to, if necessary, give their lives to keep the president safe. While in office, this protection extends to a president’s immediate family. But does this ever include their family pet? Technically no.
According to former Secret Service agent Dan Emmett, as noted in his book Within Arm’s Length, the agents tasked with protecting the First Family are under no obligation to protect any pets said family may own. In fact, he noted that even beyond not directly having any obligation to protect the animals, “Walking the dog or cat is not and will never be a part of an agent’s job description.”
Emmett put this little tidbit in a section of his book specifically dispelling myths about the Secret Service. This is a section that humourously enough also includes this gem of a supposedly widely held myth:
Myth: All women are attracted to Secret Service agents.
Emmett goes on to explain that the truth is actually that only “Many women are attracted to Secret Service agents…” (Presumably to ones called Dan Emmett most of all.) On top of this, he states that the life of a Secret Service agent includes a
never-ending string of temptations sometimes literally thrust into one’s face by women who are impressed by such things as men who protect the president. It can be almost frightening at times when seated in a bar, and a woman recognizes and agent she has just seen on television with the president. On more than one occasion, my shift mates and I had phone numbers and hotel room keys shoved into our hands or thrown to us while working a rope line with the president…. For the single agent, it was paradise; for many married agents, it was a constant struggle between good and evil, which was sometimes won and other times lost.
Back to literal dogs (as opposed to the cheating kind)- although the Secret Service isn’t obligated by any means to walk or take care of the president’s pet dog or cat (Emmett tersely claims that White House custodial staff do this), it doesn’t mean they don’t necessarily do it.
For example, Bo and Sunny, the pet Portuguese Water Dogs of the Obama’s, were often pictured being taken for a walk by some member of Obama’s protective detail. Given there were presumably other staff available for the task when necessary, we can only assume they did this because of scenarios like that the president was in the midst of doing so himself when called away for a moment (so they had to take over temporarily), and perhaps because they liked to walk the dogs, so weren’t quick to call other White House staff in. After all, it stands to reason that Secret Service agents who spend a lot of time around the president would occasionally grow fond of the president’s pets, assuming they liked the type of animal, and thus wouldn’t mind the occasional pet detail.
Said agents have also been known to do such things as a favor to the president. For instance, the Secret Service agents…
Little Kash is on the mend! Kim Zolciak’s daughter Brielle Briermann updated fans on Sunday, April 23, that her younger brother is recovering after being attacked by a dog and hospitalized over the weekend.
“He is doing MUCH better!” Brielle, 20, tweeted to a concerned fan after Zolciak revealed to followers on social media that Kash had been attacked by a dog and suffered “traumatic injuries” earlier in the day.
Meet Ryan Anderson, an Aussie guy who calls himself the “world’s biggest dog lover” – and lives up to the title every single day. Anderson is a full-time animal welfare inspector with the RSPCA and in his free time, he volunteers and fosters doggies in need. “Not only is it my full-time job to work with rescue animals, it is also my passion and hobby,” Anderson said. “I live and breathe dogs.”
While he aims to help as many animals as possible, the guy has only two permanent pets – a Rottweiler named Goose and a cat named Krumm. “The less dogs I own the more I can foster is my motto,” Anderson told The Dodo. “My favorite part would definitely be the moment one of your foster dogs finds his forever home. It’s sad to say goodbye, but it opens up a new spot for another foster to join the family.”
Dogs live to please us, and some are bred to love work. Give them a job helping people, and the rewards go both ways. Here are nine dogs who do amazing work every day.
Veteran Lon Hodge suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after his military service and was declared 100% disabled. Hodge was paired with a Labradoodle service dog trained through Freedom Service Dogs of America, an organization that rescues dogs from shelters and custom-trains them for veterans with differing needs. Gander was slated to be euthanized when he was taken for training. Now he is Hodge’s constantcompanion, trained to intervene when his voice changes or when there’s too much noise.
Gander can also open doors, pick up objects, help Hodge rise from the floor, and about a hundred other tasks. Hodge was so inspired that he and Gander now travel the country, advocating for service dog programs that help other veterans. Gander won the 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Awards for top service dog. He also has his own Facebook page.
2. AND 3. DENVER AND ANNA
Denver and Anna are full-time hospital dogs. They go to work every day at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where they interact with the young patients. The two golden retrievers (Denver also has some Labrador in him) provide a bit of normalcy for children going through scary procedures who may be a long way from their homes and their own pets. Denver and Anna were specially trained to behave themselves, show affection, and calm and soothe anxious patients. Both Denver and Anna came from Canine Assistants, an organization in Milton, Georgia that trains dogs to help people with disabilities or special needs.
Axle is a therapy dog that belongs to Tom Meli, but he is open to helping a number of people with his calm, comforting demeanor. Axle and Tom visit schools, hospitals, and senior centers to share the love. Axle provides stress relief for people with epilepsy and sits with children while they learn to read. He’s become quite an ambassador for therapy dogs! Axle was…
Meet Spirit Golden Heart, a pit bull doggie who was found by LAPD officers on the streets of LA, being so starved, she was barely alive. “She was hours away from death with large fat ticks feeding off her starving body and maggots thriving in open wounds,” Ghetto Rescue wrote on their website.
“We named her Spirit Golden Heart (can you spot the golden heart on her body?) because we knew that she was strong”. The rescuers rushed Spirit to the vet where her healing journey began. Soon they discovered the doggie had polyarthritis, followed by fevers and swolen joints.
“After receiving an enormous amount of IV fluids, blood transfusions, numerous visits to the doctor and…
Buster the doggie lives with his humans in Dublin – but he is in a long-distance relationship with someone who is based in Ireland’s Dingle peninsula. It all started back in 2013 when Buster and his owner Traolach Ó Buachalla went there on holidays and met a tall dark donkey named Jack. Buster and the animal got on very well from the second they saw each other. “The first time they met, they were just so friendly to each other,” Buachalla told The Dodo.
Since that encounter, Buster kept coming back to the peninsula and meeting Jack the donkey every year. “It’s very sweet,” Buachalla said. “I have no idea if this is normal for donkeys, but my dog is rarely so interested in other animals as he is, in particular, with Jack.”
For most dogs, mealtime is the highlight of their day. But for some, it can be a painful, potentially life-threatening ordeal. This is caused by a rare disorder called megaesophagus, which is an enlargement of the esophagus that makes it difficult for a dog to swallow its food. The condition can be congenital or acquired due to an underlying condition or as a dog ages. The disorder commonly results in vomiting and choking, especially if the food gets into the dog’s lungs.
Thankfully, there is a solution—and it’s one that has dogs looking a lot more sophisticated as they eat their dinner. The dogs are placed into specially designed highchairs that help them keep their food down. Below, you can see the chair in action as a young pup named Tickles enjoys a meal at the Manhattan office of Pure Paws Veterinary Care:
“The chair (or manually holding the pet up after feeding) helps by utilizing gravity to move the food down to the stomach,” Dr. Stephanie Liff, owner and medical director of Pure Paws Vet, tells mental_floss….
Two of life’s great joys—dogs and babies—might be even better together. A study published in the journal Microbiome found higher levels of allergy-preventing bacteria in babies who lived with furry pets like dogs and cats.
The relationship between our environments, immune systems, and gut microbes is a tangled one. Studies have found that “dirty behaviors” like thumb-sucking and nail-biting might actually help protect kids against autoimmune conditions, as can living on a farm. So it’s not too much of a stretch to think that our four-legged companions might have a similarly beneficial effect.
To explore the idea further, researchers at the University of Alberta pulled data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study, which followed the lives…
Meet Andrew Klein, a first responder with the Santa Monica Fire Department in California, who just demonstrated that every life is worth fighting for by saving a doggie named Nalu. The apartment where the pooch lived with his mom caught fire earlier this week, dangerously trapping the dog inside the house.
At the same time, Billy Fernando, a portrait photographer, was driving by when he saw the scene. The man stopped and started taking pictures of firefighters in action – but what he didn’t know was that he was about to witness a life being saved.
“As I was standing outside, I saw the firefighter, Mr. Klein, running toward the curbside grass area carrying something,” Fernando told The Dodo. “I didn’t know what it was at first, but then I realized that it…