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Dog Culture: Science & History
Myths: Loyalty Rewarded
Ancient Sanskrit Myth
Just as scientific research is confirming that, indeed, the canine/human friendship goes back many millennia, it’s a good time to look at what the ancients have to say about the subject. For example, take the Mahabharata, the Sanskrit masterwork thought to be the longest-ever epic poem. Not only is it 1.8 million words, it’s also one of the oldest, with origins in the 8th century BCE. It has been...
Blog: Karen B. London
Egyptian Dog Mummy Had Parasites
Those little pests are nothing new!
Mummified dogs are not a new archaeological discovery, but finding bloodsucking parasites on them is. Over 400 dog mummies unearthed from the El Deir excavation site in Egypt have been found, and one young dog among them was infested with a number of parasites that have been preserved. There were over 60 ticks found on this poor dog and there was one louse, too. The scientists who found this dog...
Dog Culture: Science & History
Body Language
Breeders, judges and historians talk about breed standards—why they work and when they don’t
Saint Bernard current and past
In the world of mammals, the domestic dog— Canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the gray wolf— reigns as the most morphologically diverse. Consider, for example, the extremes represented by the 155- pound South Russian Ovcharka and the seven-pound Silky Terrier. This incredible variety can be attributed in part to the dog’s basic template, which can be customized by the manipulation of a very...
Blog: Karen B. London
Disagreement About Dog Domestication
Conflict among scientists who study it
Research about canine genetics and the domestication of dogs is an exciting area of study with many players, so it should surprise nobody that there is disagreement within the field. Multiple groups of researchers from around the world have compared the genomes of dogs and wolves. While they generally agree about the genetic changes that have produced differences between dogs and wolves, their...
Dog Culture: DogPatch
Master Paintings of James Tissot
Celebrating the elegant life … with dogs.
James Tissot: Young Lady in a Boat
Like many 19th-century painters of modern life, French artist James Tissot (1836–1902) frequently depicted the new, more intimate relationships between dogs and their owners. During this period, people increasingly believed that animals and humans had similar emotional and intellectual responses, and the bond between pet-keepers and pets was foregrounded in new ways. Tissot, an avant-garde...
Dog Culture: Science & History
Scientists Searching for Clues to The First Dog
Village dogs’ genetic code may hold clues to canine evolution and health
Like classic twin studies that investigate the interplay of nature and nurture, comparing the genome of village dogs to modern dogs may help disentangle the long-term evolutionary effects of genetic and environmental influences. Mastiff to Min-Pin, Corgi to street cur: all dogs share the same set of roughly 20,000 genes. What makes one dog different from another—or, in the case of purebreds,...
Blog: Editors
Oversized Dogs and The Chinese Who Love Them
There is a really interesting article posted on The Atlantic  site today about the popularity of large dogs in China. As the author Damien Ma notes, “Most Americans will likely have a preconceived notion of the Chinese relationship with dogs. When a developing country can barely take care of all its own people, animal rights tend to sit very low on the totem pole. But the reality is much more...
Blog: Guest Posts
Remains of a 33,000 year-old dog found in Siberia
I had watched the dog origin wars as a chronicler of the dog-human relationship for several decades when in 2009 I was approached a young editor The Overlook Press about writing a book on the origins of the dog.  I readily agreed, and the result was How the Dog Became the Dog. Pondering the conflicting dates, places, and theories associated with the emergence of the dog, I concluded that as soon...
Blog: JoAnna Lou
Dogs of the Titanic
The doomed ship's survivors included three canines
April 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Knowing that only 31 percent of the ship's human passengers survived, I was surprised to learn that three dogs made it safely to New York. Only first class passengers were allowed to bring dogs on the voyage and many belonged to prominent families. There were 12 confirmed dogs on board the Titanic including a Toy Poodle, a Fox...
Blog: Karen B. London
The Origins of the Kong
Happy accident launched the toy
Louis Pasteur’s remark “Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind” is true in many fields. Those who have great knowledge recognize opportunity and are able to take a random event and recognize the value of something unexpected. In the world of dogs, a great example of chance favoring the prepared mind is seen in the original inspiration for the Kong...

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