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Archive for August, 2019

Dare on sheep

Dare met sheep this week. She loves to herd!

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Pretty puppy

pretty puppy dare

pretty puppy dare 1

This dog is obsessed with the ball already.  If there is a tennis ball, it needs to be in her mouth, and if you have it, she wants you to throw it for her.

ball dare

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Coming together

dare walking well

Dare’s drives have started to kick in, which means she getting more exercise. As a result, she’s come up on her pasterns and hocks.

dare rear

dare stance

trot dare.jpg

pseudo stack dare

dare second trot.jpg

beautiful dare

 

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Black beast

drake

The NGA greyhound we’re going to use at stud for Erika has been here a couple of weeks, and judging from his temperament, he’s going to be a permanent resident.

Drake is an American racing lines greyhound, NGA stock. He stands at 30 inches at the shoulder and weighs something like 88 pounds. He is the largest dog in the house, and yes, we do have a male German shepherd.

big boy drake.jpg

He is an extremely social, extremely smart dog. In the house, he is laid-back. On the lead, he is sedate and calm.  He can be loose with an intact male whippet and GSD, and they are no fights.

Get him on a lure, though, and he becomes possessed. It took two people to pull him off a flirt pole. He was known for going ape in the box at the track, and he has also busted several muzzles.

So he’s a beast.

If all goes to plan, he will be bred to Erika the next time she comes in heat. He carries fawn, so the puppies will be fawn or black.

He is a noble creature. Even his wonky ears do not detract from his aristocratic bearing. He looks like a hound from a Medieval tapestry that is about to be slipped on a fallow buck.

 

 

 

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A black Italian wolf. The black trait originated in dogs and was transferred to Italian and North American wolves through introgression.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I consider dogs to be a form of gray wolf.  I do not consider Canis familiaris to be a valid taxon, because of cladistics and because of the gene flow between domestic dogs and wolves.

The extent of this gene flow was largely denied in much of the literature on wolves.  But last year, it was discovered that the majority of Eurasian wolves have recent dog ancestry. This gene flow has been going on for a while, and although people do get a bit worked up about domestic animal genes filtering into a wild species, it has been shown that the melanism in wolves that is conferred by a dominant allele originated in a Native American dog that was living in the Yukon or the Northwest Terrtories thousands of years before Columbus. Further, this melanistic allele is associated with higher immune responses, and there is evidence for natural selection favoring black individuals following a distemper outbreak.

In a paper released this week in the European Journal of Wildlife Research found extensive crossbreeding between dogs and wolves in agricultural landscapes in Central Italy.  The authors estimate that about half of all wolves in this region have recent dog ancestry, and they think it is because humans have disturbed wolf habitat to have agriculture.

Of course, humans, wolves, and dogs have been living in Italy alongside agriculture for thousands of years. Dogs and wolves have been mating ever since there was a population of somewhat domesticated wolves.

Further, European wolves are much better adapted than North American wolves to living in agricultural areas.  It may simply be that North Americans are much more likely to kill wolves that appear in agricultural areas and that this is what has created this asymmetry. But North American wolves tend to be in remote areas, where they rarely encounter dogs. Thus, there is not as much gene flow between dogs and North American wolves as there is between dogs and Eurasian wolves.

There is a lot of gene flow between dogs and coyotes in North America, and this finding does make sense. Coyotes do live in agricultural and urban areas much more easily than large wolves do.

I don’t think it worth becoming alarmed that dogs and wolves are mating in the wild.  Dogs have lots of interesting mutations that could be of great use to wolves as they adapt to more and more human-dominated planet. If the dog alleles are deleterious, nature will select against them, but if they are advantageous, they will help wolves thrive into the future.

So it is quite short-sighted to think of wolves as being a some sort of pure entity that must be kept free of “foreign” alleles.  If it were more widely accepted that dogs were just a domestic form of gray wolf, we would have a much easier time accepting a more holistic understanding to how these populations can continue exchange genes and adapt to new challenges.

 

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dare 4 months

When you get a dog of this caliber, you want to do it right.  You want to do her bloodline justice. You want to ensure that you’re doing all the right socialization and training that will allow her genetic potential to be realized.

It means, though, that I must remember that she is but a child. She must be allowed to be a puppy. She must  be able to play and be silly. Every day, she looks more and more like a majestic German shepherd dog. Yes, she’s going through the floppy, “Gumby wolf” stage, but the elegance is there, burning through like an ember in the ashes.

The way this puppy looks at me is utter trust and adoration. She wishes to be with me, to do things with me, and I am taken aback by this responsibility.

I am the most important being she knows. She will even leave another puppy she is playing with if she hears my call.

I don’t want to mess this up.  I want to do it right. There is pressure here. There is tension.

But I have to remember to enjoy her in her salad days. She is raw puppy, trying to make sense of her drives and her teeth.

I cannot let the desire to do it right rob me of this joy. I must take time enjoy her puppy-hood. It is so fleeting.

Just like everything in a dog’s life.

 

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dare pretty girl

dare pretty

pretty dare.jpg

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