Ode to Dogs

(Okay, before I get emails about the other pets in our lives…rabbits, fish, turtles, etc…I promise to do a newsletter dedicated to them, some day in the future.) First, let me start by reminding you that I have a dog, Skipper,…and he has trained me well! In addition, there are two cats who share the house with the dog. Skipper is a rescued dog who has a love/hate relationship with the cats. He loves Sarge (David’s cat) and hates Willie (my cat). I think it goes to the question of who do I love more…..Willie or Skipper. Skipper figures if he keeps Willie out of whatever room we are in, I will only be able to pet him and then I might even forget I own a cat.

The history of the canine is much longer than that of the feline. The exact period of time in which the dog was domesticated is greatly debated. However, there is some archeological evidence that may say it goes back as far as 15,000 BC, but most certainly by 7,000 BC! The dog was domesticated from the wolf, as documented through extensive DNA research, especially by Carles Vila. Canines are part of the canidea family which consist of the canini branch (wolves) and vulpine (foxes).

The wolves were first domesticated to help us as a guard and work animals or to provide food and fur. Because their basic body structure did not change, it was hard to tell when a fully domesticated dog developed. However, it is known that some physical changes did happen over time including a change in fur colors, shrinkage of teeth size, reduction in overall body and brain size. The job duties of the domesticated wolf changed when societies became more agricultural. It is theorized that it was during this time the dog began to develop into specific breeds based on the jobs they were trained to do.

Here are some dog-theme accessories:

Dogs and Superstitions

There are quite a number of superstitions dealing with dogs. Most of them are unlucky or have to do with dogs being able to see spirits. Here are a few others to give you something to think about:

  • A dog walking between a courting couple indicates a fight will take place soon.
  • If a dog doesn’t like a man, it is a sign of bad character.
  • A howling dog is often associated with death.
  • However having a dog come to your house or seeing three white dogs is lucky.
  • A dog is not welcome on a ship, while a cat can bring good fortune and weather.

You are probably familiar with one of these sayings:

  • Let sleeping dogs lie.
  • You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
  • He is barking up the wrong tree.
  • A man’s best friend is his dog.

Dogs are grouped together by the type of job humans wanted them to perform. Here are the categories along with a few examples of the breeds.

  • Scenthounds will track the prey and let the human do the work of capturing it. (Bloodhound, Beagle, and Dachshund)
  • Gun (hunting) dogs help in the initial discovery of the prey, then have a point behavior to alert the hunter to the prey, and then recovers the prey after it has been shot. (Pointers, Retrievers, Spaniels)
  • Sighthounds actually pursue the prey and carry out the attack. (Greyhound, Whippet, Afghan hound)
  • Herding dogs help to move groups of other animals, some only by body movement while others may nip at the herd. (Border Collies, German Shepherd, Welsh Corgis.)
  • Bulldogs are medium-sized animals bred for their aggression against other animals. (Boxer, American and English Bulldogs)
  • Terriers are also bred to be aggressive with their small size allowing them to chase their prey into small areas. (Jack Russell Terrier, Rat Terrier)
  • Mastiffs are large dogs that were bred to be guard dogs. (Rottweiler, Newfoundland, Shar Pei)

I think there should be a new category called Couchdogs. It is a job we’ve trained the canine to do, so it would fit the initial criteria for the categories, don’t you think? Any breed could fall into this category. My dog fits much better into this category than any of the ones above…..by the way, he is a yellow Labrador retriever.

Canine Crewel and Cross Stitch Kits

What are Designer Dogs?

I think one of the first designer dogs I ever heard about was the Labradoodle – Labrador retriever and poodle. These are hybrid breeds that are a cross between two or more purebred breeds. These are still documented dogs and are under the control of the American Canine Hybrid Club. The puppy can have any combination of the characteristics of the purebred parents. Here are some combinations I found during my research that sounded interesting:

  • Brat – American Rat Terrier and Boston Terrier
  • Pithuahua – Pit Bull and Chihuahua
  • Pomapoochi (just loved saying it!) – Poodle, Pomeranian, and Chihuahua

The important thing to remember about designer dogs is they are not a breed but a hybrid.

Last but not least, what at the top doggie names? Well according to PetMD:

  • For Males: Ace, A.J., Max, Aztec, Buddy
  • For Females: Bella, Abby, Zoey, Daisy, Buttons

On a serious note, even though I have owned a dog most of my life, I recently found out that grapes are not a good thing for a dog. So, before I go on to the sales, here are a few things that may be toxic to your pooch.

  • Caffeine, including chocolate, coffee, tea, and pop, impacts their heart and nervous system
  • Grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts have an unknown toxin that damages their kidneys
  • Mushrooms can result in shock
  • Alcohol may cause a coma
  • Onions and garlic can damage red blood cells

Dogs are attracted to sweet tastes where cats don’t have sweet taste buds, per se. That makes dogs more likely to drink or chew things that have a sweet smell or taste such as antifreeze, gum, candy, and even ibuprofen. Dogs don’t have the taste for salt as much as other animals, however, they do have a taste sensor for meat! To read more about the sense of taste check out this interesting article.

Let me leave you with a few more canine goodies!


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