FINAL Iditarod 2018 Results

The top 20 racers have passed under the burled arch, with Joar Leifset Ulsom taking the win. He took 9 days and 12 hours to complete the 998 mile trek. In second place, Nicolas Petit finished in 9 days, 14 hours and 15 minutes, while Mitch Seavey crossed the finish line in 9 days, 17 […] Dog Blog

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The rarity of canid hybrids

black coyote

The black allele that exists in wolves and coyotes originated in domestic dogs and entered those species because of hybridization.

Ever since Meet the Coywolf appeared on Nature on PBS and then made a long run on Netflix, the concept of hybridization within closely related Canis species has captured the public imagination.

But what is interesting about hybrids in Canidae is they have only been documented within these Canis species, which are domestic dogs/ dingoes/gray wolves, Ethiopian wolves, coyotes, Eurasian golden jackals, and African golden wolves, and between swift and kit foxes where their ranges overlap.  Sterile hybrids have been produced by crossing red foxes (usually silver phase) with arctic foxes (usually blue phase) in fur farms.

And as it stands right now, these are the only hybrids that have been documented.

This rarity is quite unusual, because the cat family has lots of hybridization by comparison.  Intergeneric hybrids have been produced by crossing cougars with leopards, which are called “pumapards,” and hybrids have even been produced crossing ocelots and bobcats. Domestic cats have been hybridized with servals and leopard cats. Pantherine hybrids are famous, including the very real liger and leopon.

But no one has produced a true intergeneric hybrid in Canidae. There are rumors of a dhole-Eurasian golden jackal hybrid from British India, but the account of this animal is literally one sentence in a book by Reginald Pocock. The Thai Bangkaew dog was said to be a dhole hybrid, but the current thinking is that the wild dog in its background is the Eurasian golden jackal.  Rumors of a dog crossed with a crab-eating fox were passed around a few years ago, but I don’t remember anyone checking out this supposed hybrid.

No one has ever produced a real vulpine fox-dog hybrid. No one.  I’ve run into several accounts of a creature called a “dox,” but they all existed before the discovery of DNA.

But no one has seen a dox since then.

It is really interesting that hybridization is far less common in Canidae than Felidae, and it certainly worth exploring why.

Losing chemical interfertility clearly does not happen at the same rate, and the mechanisms by which this happens are not clearly understood.



Natural History

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Come To Me, Spring Dresses

8 Gorgeous Springtime Dresses

I’m going to let the sheer beauty of these dresses do the talking today. I’m daydreaming of nonstop spring and summer dress days. Come on, warm weather.

(This post is NOT sponsored. I just love me some Free People. Please Easter Bunny, bring me #3.)


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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For your research, Steph: "Having a pit bull…

For your research, Steph:

"Having a pit bull … and three kids is not acceptable because we're not going to deal with the consequences of losing a life," Newsom said.

He appointed a task force led by Carl Friedman, the city's director of Animal Care and Control, and members of the mayor's office, the police department, fire department, health department and city attorney's office, and gave the group 10 days to produce a report.

Friedman said the task force will likely consider breed-specific permits and mandatory spaying and neutering of aggressive dogs." And that they did.

We don't need to be convinced that mandatory spay/neuter is an outdated, ineffective idea and welcome you to follow the success of the the honey-not-vinegar approach that our group has been enjoying in the East Bay.

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Should we be thinking of coyotes as invasive species?

I love Kentucky Afield, but I have some problems with the terminology in this clip.

The hunter in this video calls the coyote an invasive species in part because it killed some cats.

Now, cats clearly are an actual invasive species. They exist at much higher densities than any native mesopredators, and the truth is that anything that keeps cats numbers down or keeps them scared out of their minds to leave the house is a good thing for many small birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

The genus Felis is not native to any place in the Americas. Had Europeans never come over here, we would have our native cat species, which would exist at numbers that were controlled through competition with other native predators and the fluctuating numbers of prey species.

If any animal that has been introduced since the time of colonization has caused ecological chaos, it is the domestic cat.

This is what ecologists say, but cats have good publicity.  They have a fan club. I can’t say that I’m in it, but I can see why some people like them. They are like a mentally deficient dog that doesn’t require walks or much training, but they are far more intelligent than guinea pigs and better company than Syrian hamsters.

The same cannot be said for the coyote. Those of us who live outside the proposed original range for coyotes tend to think of them as a Western species that came into the East, but the truth is we have fossil evidence of  Pleistocene coyotes in the East, including in West Virginia.

We also have accounts of anomalous wolves. For example, John Smith described the “wolues” around Jamestown as not being much larger than English foxes. It is usually suggested that these Jamestown wolves were red wolves. Ignoring the real problems about what red wolves actually are, coyotes fit the description far better than anything we’ve ever called a red wolf.

Henry Wharton Shoemaker also wrote of a small brown wolf that was common in the Susquehanna Valley, which he contended was exactly the same thing as the coyote.

It is very possible that coyotes existed in the East but in far smaller numbers than they do now. The wolf hunters and fur trappers who came into the continent took as many wolves as they could, and they didn’t take great lengths to catalog what they were killing. They just killed them, and they either got their bounty or sold the hides.  And many Native American dogs went with them.

So I think it is possible that there were some coyotes in East, but their big range expansion didn’t happen until the extirpation of larger wolves.

Further, the entire genus Canis has its origins in this continent.  The earliest forms of the genus was Canis evolved in North America 6 million years ago, though they were restricted to the Southwest and Northern Mexico, but coyotes and coyote-like canids were found throughout what became the United States during the Pleistocene.

The genus Felis didn’t appear here until permanent European colonization and settlement.

So this idea that you’re killing the coyote as the “invasive species” to protect the cat is a total perversion of the ecological concept.

It is also interesting that no one ever calls a red fox an invasive species in the United States– with the except of Eastern red foxes that have been introduced to California. The red fox was not found south of the Northern Great Lakes, Northern New York, and Northern New England, but it is now found over most of the Eastern states.

It was originally claimed that it derived from English imports, but recent genetic analysis and historical research have found that red foxes in the East and South descend from those foxes that wandered south from Canada and the northern tier of states.

The red fox took advantage of the clearing of forests, which disadvantaged the gray fox, its main competitor, and came south in large numbers. They introduced themselves to the new territory in the same way that coyotes would later do as the wolves were killed off.

No one seriously considers the red fox to be an invasive species. It also has a record of being in parts of Virginia and Tennessee during the Pleistocene, but it did not exist when Europeans came.

Most states treat it as a proper game animal. Mine has a proscribed hunting and trapping season for them, but coyotes can be killed all year round.

But the “native” status of the two animals is fairly similar, and if these older accounts of anomalous small wolves in Pennsylvania and Virginia describe coyotes, then the coyote has a much stronger native status than the red fox.

“Invasive species” is a term that really does have a meaning to it, but it cannot be allowed to be used in such a way that it means any animal that inconveniences us.

We should use that term to mean animals that were introduced either by accident or intention and that have caused real ecological damage. I am thinking feral hogs here. And cane toads. And marmorated stink bug.

And yes, feral cats.

Natural History

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Canine clones—The Japanese version

The Poodle (and Dog) Blog

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Remembering Irie, 2008-2018

Today I need to write the post that no pet lover wants to face. We lost Irie to cancer on Friday. Her illness was sudden and unexpected; a vet visit on Tuesday diagnosed a tumor on her spleen….

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


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Why Dog Rescues Should Consider Canine DNA Testing

Yesterday we told you about Irie and Tiki’s BFF, Buddy, and his DNA test through DNA My Dog. Today we have a guest post from DNA My Dog’s founder, Mindy Tenenbaum, about how the easy-to-use…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


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Dog Fancy Magazine Features Kevin Behan, Neil Sattin and Natural Dog Training

I always look forward to opening up the mailbox. Sure, email is great – but there’s something magical and mysterious about having physical, tangible items delivered to you from somewhere beyond. The other day was no exception, as I happened to receive the latest issue of Dog Fancy magazine (November 2011). And in the “Natural Dog” section is a feature on Natural Dog Training, including interviews with me and Kevin Behan, along with a couple people who have had some very positive experiences with NDT. (Cliff Abrams and Sang Koh).

The article is entitled “Push Away Stress” – and I think it does a great job of zeroing in on one of the central principles in how we interact with our dogs – that the key to establishing a rock-solid connection with your dog is to recognize that life for your dog, especially in a human world, creates stress. Your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to give your dog ways to relax that tap into their innate mechanisms for releasing stress. By doing so, you are teaching your dog that no matter how the world makes them feel, you are uniquely capable of helping them get through it.

Neil Sattin Heeling With His Dog Nola

This might all sound a little mumbo-jumbo-y, but I’ve seen it now time and time again, how tapping into your dog’s primal circuitry changes things for the better. My DVD set (and this website, and Kevin’s books, and Lee Charles Kelley’s articles, and…) gives plenty of examples of how once you’re plugged in with your dog you can turn that relationship into enthusiastic “obedience.”

Note that the reason that I put the word “obedience” in quotes is because the concept becomes almost moot. Your dog doesn’t “obey” you – because there’s no need. What happens is that you learn how to communicate with your dog in a language that they understand. So your dog listens, and responds.

Not because they are suddenly blindly obeying you, or because you’ve become the “authority” in their lives – but because they care what you have to say. It makes sense to them. Even more, it FEELS good to act in harmony with your desires. Because now you both want the same thing.

Neil Sattin and His Dog Nola Sit-Stay

If reading the Dog Fancy article is your introduction to Natural Dog Training, welcome! I’m sure you’re intrigued to know what “pushing” is all about – as the technique was essentially the focus of the article, without any detailed instruction on how to actually do it! As you might expect, I do explain thoroughly how to do it on my DVDs – but I also provide written instruction here on my website on How to Push with Your Dog (and the follow-up – Why to Push with Your Dog).

Thank you to Dog Fancy magazine (and writer Susan Chaney) for an open-minded article about what we do. And thanks, once again, to all of you. It’s your attention, questions, and feedback (yes, keep sending emails with your stories of your success!) that help remind me why I’m doing this in the first place.

Dog Fancy Magazine Features Kevin Behan, Neil Sattin and Natural Dog Training is a post from: Natural Dog Blog – Training and More

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Chicago Honors K-9 Force

Will you be anywhere near The Windy City this summer? The Chicago Tribune reports The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation is backing a public art initiative called K-9s for Cops to bring 200 German shepherd statues to the Magnificent Mile and other locations from July 23rd to Labor Day. The 54-inch statues will be made of […] Dog Blog

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