Pet News: Where Did Dog Breeds Come From?

Four Is Enough
By JULIE KLAM - The New York Times

It’s a recent March morning in our small New York apartment, and my husband is looking at me with a half-smile on his face. Not the kind of half-smile that says, “I will love this woman till the end of my days.” It’s the kind that says, “I told you it was going to cost over $300 to get that rug cleaned, even though you said it wouldn’t because you had a coupon from the Internet.” So while the man from the rug-cleaning place goes on and on, calculator in hand, about how very, very bad our rug stains are — and the smell! — I give my husband my own half-smile, which says, “Oops.”

We’ve been living with these four dogs. It’s all an accident: we had one dog, a Boston terrier (a female), and then in August we fostered an elderly dog, another terrier, to save her from being put to sleep, and then somehow in October she had puppies, just two, small-size, no bigger than teeny baby mice when they were born — the three of them fit in a little box from FreshDirect. And it was so sweet how this dog from the streets, who’d been through hell, was able to have her puppies in a nice home and not in a shelter. … Well, if she’d stayed in the shelter she wouldn’t have had them because they were going to put her down. But now here she was, getting to be their mother, and to take care of them. And we were so amazed and so moved that we, or I, decided that she and her puppies would always have a home with us and we would all live happily ever after.

Until a few days later when we realized that her ancient body wasn’t providing her babies with enough milk, and we had to spend $500 at the vet. (We’d been to a vet with her before, a vet who thought she had Cushing’s disease! Silly! She was pregnant!) And so we got the formula and the little bottles and the eyedroppers the vet said to get, and we fed the puppies every two hours, and after a while the mom’s milk finally came in — hurray! — so we were able to sleep through the night again. But then the mother got in a fight with our original dog and got her cornea scratched. And though I never go anywhere, I was about to go to Miami for two days for work, and the vet said the mother couldn’t nurse while she was on antibiotics: “Sorry.” My husband would have to feed the puppies every two hours while taking care of our young daughter; I told the vet that just wasn’t an option, because I was already on thin ice, so the vet sent me to a fancy emergency place that was able to fix her eye for the weekend. It was $500 for the regular vet, another $1,000 for the emergency vet. But it was worth anything to keep my husband from having to nurse those puppies for 48 hours by himself.

After that we decided we couldn’t keep all the dogs, just the original dog and the male puppy, and maybe the mother because she’d been through so much and she was so old and the idea of putting her in another home brought tears to our (my) eyes. The problem was that I’d become very attached to the female puppy, so I didn’t want to give her up either.

At first, when the puppies started leaving the little box to do their business, it was sort of cute — teeny puddles and tiny poopies — and I tried to teach them to go on the Wee Wee pads ($39 a pack). Then after they got their shots ($875) it was O.K. to take them out to housebreak them. But they screamed on the leash. Like, “Yow!” And walking four dogs in the cold wasn’t that fun for me, either; four dogs like to go in four different directions. (A couple of times, I was this close to letting them all go — after all, if you love something, you’re supposed to set it free.) So I decided to put off housebreaking till spring, and in the meantime let them go on the Wee Wee pads, or near the Wee Wee pads. But usually they went “nowhere near” the Wee Wee pads. They were born in our daughter’s room, so that’s where they liked to go, in particular the needlepoint rug with the pale blue and pink roses.

The result is that we’ve been living in a litter box. And my husband hasn’t been happy about it. (He calls the mother the “Trojan Dog.”) Somehow I thought that if we just got my daughter’s rug cleaned, things might go back to normal. I called the rug cleaners, and over the phone they said it was something a square foot, under 10 bucks, so I said, “Sold!”

But now the guy is here with his calculator. And my husband, who is putting his coat on and getting ready to leave for work, says, “So far they’ve cost us more than a month’s rent, Julie.” (It’s never good when he uses my name; he does it so I can’t pretend he’s talking to someone else.) As he gets in the elevator, I lean out into the hallway, and I yell, “I’ll figure something out.” And I will. I swear I will.

Julie Klam is the author of a memoir, “Please Excuse My Daughter.”

Officials Rescue 92 Dogs, Puppies
Associated Press

WINSTON, Mo. -- Authorities have located 92 dogs and puppies they believe were living in a squalid, unlicensed northwest Missouri puppy mill and are searching for 100 more.

The 92 small-breed dogs, including Yorkshire terriers, Pekingese, Chihuahua, Maltese, and miniature pinschers and poodles, were transported Friday from the Kansas City area to the Humane Society of Missouri's St. Louis headquarters, where they will be cared for.

Tim Rickey, rescue director for the Humane Society, said the dogs were found with breeders -- 68 in Grain Valley, 24 in Cameron -- whom they met at a neutral site. Only one of the breeders is licensed.

"We're working with several other parties and leads," Rickey said. "Anyone with information should contact us. We think there are 100 more animals."

Authorities believe the dogs' owners dispersed them to various breeders sometime after the Daviess County Sheriff's Department came to their home Monday evening and before law men executed a search warrant Tuesday afternoon.

The 92 eventually may be placed for adoption pending the outcome of a disposition hearing Monday in Daviess County, where the alleged puppy mill north of Winston is located.

Rickey said the alleged puppy mill operators used area newspapers to advertise their puppies.

Deputies were called to the Winston property Monday to help capture an angry chimp running loose. A deputy later shot the chimp.

Microchip as Important as Collar When Pet's Lost
By JACQUE ESTES - Daytona Beach Journal

Say the word "microchip" to a pet owner and you are likely to get a variety of reactions.

Some simply don't like the idea of a chip with their information embedded under their dog's skin.
Others don't want to subject their pet to the invasive procedure. And then there are stories about certain chips not matching up with the scanners.

Dogs, and even cats, should have identification in the event you get separated. If you like traveling with your pet, identification is a must not only to return him home safely if the animal runs off, but also in the event you become ill or have an accident and can't care for him.

Having up-to-date information can help doctors and local authorities get your pet to family or friends who can care for him.

The positives about getting your dog a microchip is he isn't going to lose it. Tags can fall off or be damaged. Microchips do not have your information on them.

When the chip is scanned it will reveal a personal file number, not your personal information. Veterinary offices and animal shelters call the manufacturer and give them the number, which is then matched up with your account, and the process of bringing your pet home safely begins.

Having a microchip is a simple procedure available at most shelters and veterinarian offices. Many may be concerned about putting their pet through unnecessary pain but the insertion is not much different than annual vaccinations and the discomfort is about the same. The needle slides just under the skin and the chip is put in place.

Microchips are intended to last the life of the pet, up to 25 years. If you move or change your address, a call to the monitoring company can update your information.

When microchips first came out, there was only one company making them. As additional companies started offering the service each developed their own scanners and just like cell phone chargers, they are not interchangeable.

So the first thing a pet owner should do before getting a microchip implanted into their pet, is check with their local humane societies and veterinarians to see what system they use.

The Humane Society of the United States has been working on encouraging companies to adopt a universal scanner that will read all types of chips.

If your pet already has a chip and your local shelter is unable to read it, call the company and request that a scanner be sent to the shelter free of charge. Some companies will do this. Or you can also have a second chip, compatible with local scanners, implanted.

In my opinion, microchips do not replace the traditional tag. They should be used as a backup in the event your dog gets out of his collar or the tag falls off.

Dogs, especially when traveling, should have current tags with phone numbers (don't forget the area code) and your veterinarian's phone number.

As fire season is already affecting areas of the Sunshine State and hurricane season is less than two months away, making sure your pet has identification is important.

It really doesn't matter what type of identification you use. What is important is that the information is up-to-date and it is on your pet.

Think It Through Before Getting a Pet
By Sara Welch and Alicia Rockmore - ReadingEagle

Once children reach the age of 6 or 7, pets come on their radar screens in a big way. Deciding whether to give in to their pleas to adopt a pet, whether feathered, furry or scaly, is no small matter.

First, there's the time commitment. You not only have to think of the pet (cleaning, feeding, walking), but also the impact on your regular household cleanup duties. Second, there is a financial commitment. Some experts estimate that a medium-sized cat or dog could end up running you between $7,000 and $13,000 over its lifetime, and most cost at least $300 a year.

But, just as those wonderful MasterCard commercials proclaim, a pet's contribution to a family can be priceless.

Sarah on "Think About Why":

As a spontaneous type, I can completely relate to people who see a puppy or kitten, fall in love and bring it home on a whim. But research shows that people who leap into the role of pet owner are more likely to become frustrated with the commitment and reject or abandon it. Before you buy or adopt, think about why each family member wants one in the first place. Pets need to become part of the family. Is everyone prepared to give the pet a good home? If the answer is yes, then take the time and look for a pet, and perhaps even more importantly, a breed that is well-suited to your family's temperament and activities.

Alicia on "Trial Run":

My daughter, Lucy, and my husband, Adam, have been clamoring for a dog for months. But I know that once the novelty wears off, the responsibility for taking care of the dog will land in my lap. To put their pet commitments to the test, I let them get a fish.

I knew my busy schedule would at least accommodate quick fish feedings and a once-a-week tank cleaning. Sure enough, after only a month, if I didn't have "feed the fish" and "clean the tank" on my to-do list, the poor little guy would be out of luck. Now when the whining starts for a new puppy, I can point to our little goldfish, Ollie, and say, with conviction, "You're not ready."

Here are additional thoughts on how you can get prepared to welcome a pet into your household.

1. Make It A Family Investment

Pets can be expensive, especially in the first year. One way to get the entire family to demonstrate readiness for a pet is to have everyone - and we mean everyone - put their money where their mouth is. Start a savings account and set a dollar amount that must be raised to get the pet (a good rule of thumb: one year's estimated cost). Assign a dollar contribution amount to each family member, and only when the goal is reached do you bring a pet home.

2. Pre-Assign Chores

Before you bring a pet home, think seriously about how pet chores can be divided more equitably among family members. If you have more than one child, give one child the responsibility for morning feedings, and the other evening feedings. Rotate walking or cage-cleaning chores. If you don't plan, chances are Mom will have one more thing on her overflowing plate.

3. Pet-Proof Your House

Consider a few questions: Is your pet OK being confined indoors for long periods? How will you confine your pet? Will your pet be house-trained? Will your pet have claws that could scratch furniture and floors? Do you have wall-to-wall carpet that urine could ruin? Will you need to have semi-gloss paint on the walls so you can easily wipe off scratches and spittle? Go through each room and think about the potential pet impact.

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Where Did Dog Breeds Come From?
by Janet Winter

One night many thousands of years ago, Og and his hunting buddies were sitting around a fire that illuminated a small spot in what must have been a huge, dark, and very scary world. As long as the fire burned, wolves, bears and saber-toothed tigers remained at bay. But Og noticed a small wolf hovering at the edge of the light.
He threw a small Mastodon bone at the wolf to scare it off. But to Og's surprise, the wolf picked up the bone and brought it back! Og repeated the toss several times and each time the wolf brought the bone back, much to the amusement of Og and his buddies.

At some point the wolf spotted something in the darkness that Og was not aware of. The wolf bared his fangs and growled. Og and his buddies began yelling and throwing things in the direction of what ever it was out there. Satisfied that the threat had been scared off, Og rewarded the wolf with a piece of Mastodon meat. Og then pointed at the wolf and yelled, "dOg," which meant "Little wolf belonging to Og." And that was the first dog.

Obviously, the above story is a compete fabrication. However, research into the origins of dogs indicates that dogs did evolve from wolves, possibly as long as 100,000 years ago. More interestingly, dogs could not have developed without human intervention. So the story above, while fanciful, may not be too far from the truth.

There are many similarities between dogs and wolves. For one thing, dogs and wolves are the same species, meaning that a dog and a wolf can produce offspring capable of reproducing. Not only are dogs and wolves similar in appearance, (except when it comes to creatures like Shiz Tsus) but dogs and wolves exhibit similar social behavior. Therefore, is very likely that the first dogs were domesticated wolves, and the breeds we have today were entirely created by humans.

What is a dog breed? It is a little more complex than just "Poodles," or "Boxers." A dog breed refers to any group of dogs of similar characteristics developed and maintained by humans. Also, "breed" can include landraces, or natural breeds. These dogs have developed similar characteristics over time in response to their environment, but without direct selection by humans. An example of a landrace is the Dingo of Australia.

Over many years, Og's descendants found that some dogs were good at hunting, while other dogs were better at other tasks. For example, breeding good hunters with other good hunters, resulted in consistently good hunting dogs. Around 12,000 years ago, humans began cultivating crops, and dog breeds became more specialized, more similar in appearance, and less "wolf-like." Hunting and guarding dogs were large, while dogs kept for pets or to capture burrowing animals were smaller.

While many dog breeds such as German Shepherds have been around for hundreds of years, it was not until the formation of the English Kennel Club in 1873 that formal documentation of dog pedigrees was established.

Shortly thereafter, breed clubs began to be established to promote and enhance specific breeds. Each club defined the characteristics their breed must have, and other characteristics the breed must not have. The clubs also established pedigrees so that a dog could be certified - or pedigreed - as being of that specific breed.

While specific-breed clubs have been effective at maintaining the uniformity of their breeds, the results are controversial. Maintaining a specific breed of dog is a totally human activity, and breeds as we know them would not exist were it not for breed clubs. But to maintain the characteristics of a breed while satisfying demand for the dog, significant inbreeding has taken place in many breeds.

The result is a dog that may be "perfect" in terms of meeting the show requirements of the breed, but in reality, the animal often has serious chronic problems which are painful to the dog and result in shortened lifespan.

An example of this type of breeding is the English Bulldog. Hundreds of years ago, "bulldogs" were raised to compete in the grisly wagering sport of bull or bear baiting, in which the bulldog would bite a tied up bull or bear around its muzzle and suffocate it. After this activity was thankfully outlawed, the bulldog breed was "re engineered" to be smaller, squat, bowlegged, and have a pronounced under bite.

The Bulldog Club of England, founded in 1875, determined that the appearance of the dog that we're familiar with today should be the standard for the breed, rather than a leaner dog that is more athletic.

Ironically, the bulldog was deliberately changed into a creature that is completely incapable of any athletic activity, let alone bull baiting. Even bulldogs of fifty years ago look remarkably different - leaner, taller, longer muzzle - than do bulldogs of today.

Bulldogs, like several other breeds, are a high-maintenance dog. The short muzzle inhibits breathing, which leads to snoring and heart problems. Bulldogs are extremely sensitive to heat.

Anyone familiar with the University of Georgia's mascot, Uga, has probably seen the mascot on the sidelines sitting on a bag of ice. Frequently, bulldog pups must be delivered by Cesarean section because of their large head. The folds in the skin must be cleaned to prevent infection. The list continues, but other popular breeds suffer from similar chronic ailments.

However, increased awareness of the bulldog's (and other dog's) health issues is prompting changes. In response to a BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, has revised the standards for the bulldog as well as over 200 other breeds. The "new bulldog" will be thinner, taller, more athletic and have a longer muzzle.

This move by The Kennel Club (UK) has not been well received by bulldog clubs, which see the move as unnecessary and an over reaction. (The owners of the current UGA mascot, Uga VII, are opposed to the changes.)

So in the future we should see substantial changes in a number of breeds that will result in longer-living, healthier breeds of dogs - and happier dog owners. Perhaps even Uga will be leaner, taller, and not have to site on a bag of ice in hot weather. Og would be proud.

About the Author
Janet Winter has a deep love for animals and enjoys writing informative articles about caring for your dog's comfort, safety and fun. You can learn how to provide a loving, pampered life for your dog by visiting

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Use Hamster Toys To Keep Your Little Pet Healthy
by Bert Gaton

Toys are a necessary part of any hamsters life. There are a few reasons for this but the most obvious one is health related. Both Syrian and dwarf hamsters need exercise to be healthy and happy. This is a bit of a challenge for hamsters because their cages are often too small to run around in. This is where we, as loving pet owners, have to be creative!

Hamster toys do a great job of making up for a small living space. They keep your little guy healthy and active while allowing him to have some fun too. You have a number of choices here and they all provide somewhat unique benefits for your pet. Have a look at some of the more popular hamster toys discussed below.

When you think of hamster toys, the first thing that inevitably comes to mind is the hamster wheel. Its actually quite difficult to picture a hamster living without one of these now! This is completely understandable. Although it is rather basic, a hamster wheel gives your little guy a lot of the exercise that he needs in order to be healthy. The fact that it fits inside even a small cage is also a huge bonus. Hamster wheels aren't really dangerous either. In some instances, hamsters have been to know to sustain injuries while running on the wheel but these cases are very rare. Chances are that if your hamsters wheel is a good size for him, he'll use it with great enthusiasm.

The run-about is another hamster toy that you may want to consider. This toy is essentially a ball made out of clear plastic. Your hamster gets himself inside the ball then you let him rip around your house. The run-about provides a hamster with the same benefits that come from using a hamster wheel. The cool thing about the plastic ball, though, is it lets your little guy explore a whole different world! I love run-abouts and so do my children. It is important, however, that somebody keeps an eye on the hamster while he's outside of his cage.

There are other exercises, besides running, that every healthy hamster should be doing. One such exercise is climbing. Hamsters love to climb. Is this a bad thing? Gosh no! There are so many neat climbing toys available for hamster cages. A lot of them look like cool tree houses too. This way you can provide your hamster with a bit of atmosphere while giving him something to climb. Ive had a ton of fun setting up hamster cages for my pets. One thing that should be considered is the material that these toys are made out of. Some climbing toys made out of plastic could be mildly toxic. Its probably best to stick to natural woods and PVC free plastics.

The most important part here is to mix it up for your little friend. You want to have a variety of different toys for your hamster to use. A combination of running and climbing toys will encourage your little buddy to do different exercises all the time. Go for a healthy balance here and your pet will enjoy a long and wonderful life.

About the Author
Bert loves his hamsters. He recently started a site about hamster toys . Check it out!

Your Legacy: Pet Care After You Are Gone
Holli Friedland - Baltimore Exotic Animals Examiner

With turtles, tortoises and birds, more than other pets, there are times when the animal outlives its owner. It’s a tragic situation for the animal.

Remember billionaire Leona Helmsley, dubbed the Queen of Mean, because of how she treated her employees? She was a lot kinder to her pets. She left a trust worth millions for the care of her animals. That’s an extreme case, but you and I can also make arrangements for our pets after we are gone.

When making out a will, please remember your pets. There is much to consider. Not only should you think about who might want your pet, but also leaving money to take care of this animal.

There are a couple good websites for estate planning with pets in mind. It’s really something you should consider, especially if you have an animal that lives a long time.

One site is called Pet Guardian. This organization will help you organize your estate in case you die or become incapable of caring for your pets.

Filife, which is a financial website, also has good information. This site was created by the people who publish the Wall Street Journal.

Always remember that your pets are part of your family and they need your consideration as much as anyone else.

Tips to Keep Your Cat Safe

National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month aims to keep pet parents prepared for emergencies.

A cat's minor cuts or scrapes are fairly common, and can probably be treated at home, vets say.

To celebrate National Pet First-Aid Awareness Month in April, pet owners are urged to be prepared to handle emergency situations, such as a car accident, cat fight or poisoning.

Here are some tips from Dr. Mark Stickney, director, general surgery services at Texas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences:

--Build a relationship with your cat’s veterinarian. Find out if the vet has an after-hour emergency service, and if not, who they recommend calling in case of an emergency.

--As the warmer months approach, more pets will be affected by snake bites. Dogs tend to get bitten on their noses, faces and front legs. In cases of poisoning or trauma, contact your veterinarian.

--If an animal has been hit by a car or bike and is injured or bleeding, the first thing to do is put pressure on the area to slow the blood flow.

--Less severe incidences such as minor cuts and scrapes are fairly common and can be handled much like treating a person.

Top Ten Pet Poisons of 2008 Identified by Animal Organization

Lynden veterinarian John Berry remembers the time a 150-pound Rottweiler was brought in after licking up antifreeze that had been spilled on a garage floor. Berry, of the Lynden Veterinary Hospital, didn't have on hand the drug needed to stop the poisoning, so he improvised, using an alternative yet equally effective method.

He kept the dog drunk on vodka.

The vodka tied up the enzyme that would have otherwise broken down the antifreeze, Berry said. Antifreeze is only a problem if it is broken down, but if it is kept intact the pet can survive, he said. After three days in a kennel hooked up to a vodka IV, the Rottweiler was well enough to go home.

If you have kitties, no Easter lilies: Lilies are highly toxic to cats. Severe kidney damage can occur even if a small amount of the plant is ingested.

Berry's quick-thinking helped save the Rottweiler from one of the deadliest pet poisons identified by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The list, which also includes insecticides, household plants and fertilizers, names the top 10 pet poisons of 2008.

No. 1 is human medications, which accounted for more than 50,000 calls to the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center.

Medications, even simple cold medicines, are dangerous to pets, said Lisa Clarkson, office manager of the Cat Clinic, 1214 Dupont St. in Bellingham.

Sometimes a pet will eat a medication that has fallen on the floor, other times the medication is given to them deliberately.

Pet owners have given their animals a baby Tylenol thinking it will help with pain, but even licking a Tylenol tablet can kill a cat within 12 hours, Clarkson said.

People food was third on the list, with one of the worst pet poisons being chocolate.

Baking chocolate and high-end chocolates are the most dangerous, Berry said, but it also depends on the weight and size of the animal.

If a little dog eats half a pound of truffles, it would need to be seen by a vet right away, he said.

Sixth on the list was household plants, including azaleas, rhododendrons and lilies, that account for almost 8,000 calls to the Animal Poison Control Center in 2008.

Lilies are especially toxic to cats, Clarkson said. Even in small amounts, lilies can cause life-threatening kidney failure.

Chemical poisonings, including antifreeze, was seventh on the list. Antifreeze is one of the most dangerous poisons because it tastes sweet, and it only takes a little bit to kill an animal, Berry said. Pets that might have ingested any antifreeze should be brought to their vet before they start showing any symptoms because once the symptoms start, it's too late, he said.

Not all of the poisons included on the ASPCA's list require immediate medical attention. Pet owners who suspect their animals have been exposed to a toxic substance are advised to call their local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. Pets that start showing symptoms of poisoning, including seizures or loss of consciousness, should be brought to their veterinarians immediately.

• Human medications

• Insecticides

• Certain people food

• Rat and mouse poisons

• Improperly dispensed veterinary medications

• Plants

• Chemical hazards

• Household cleaners

• Heavy metals

• Fertilizer

SOURCE: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

For a detailed list of the top 10 pet poisons of 2008 and for tips on how to keep pets safe, go online to

Reach ISABELLE DILLS at or call 715-2220.

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