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DogTipper

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Can African cheetahs replace the now defunct population of Asiatic cheetah in India?

cheetah

India’s supreme court is now seeing an interesting case in which taxonomy and endangered species politics converge to have real world consequences. The question is whether African cheetahs can replace Asiatic cheetahs on India’s plains.

Yes, for there were once cheetahs in India. Their traditional quarry was the blackbuck antelope, and many nobles in India kept cheetahs or “hunting leopards,” as the British colonizers called them, for coursing blackbuck.

Cheetahs were not just found in India.  They ranged throughout the Middle East up into the Caucasus and Central Asia. In the wild, this lineage of cheetah is found only in Iran, where they exist in only relict numbers.  In Iran, the situation is made even more complicated with an international human rights scandal in which several cheetah researchers were imprisoned.  Cheetahs have since been extirpated from all of Asia, except for that tiny Iranian population.

So India, a nation with growing wealth and a growing conservation ethic, cannot turn to Iran to reintroduce its former cheetahs.  With Iran out of the question, some experts have suggested that African cheetahs be used as stand-ins.

And this is where things get interesting. African cheetahs are not exactly like the ones in India. There is a bit of a debate about when the two lineages of cheetah split, with one set of papers and researchers suggesting a very recent split (5,000 years ago) and another suggesting a more ancient one (44,000-47,000 years ago).

40,000 years suggests way too much evolutionary distance between the two cheetah populations for African cheetahs to be equivalent of the Asiatic ones.

But even if we accept this later date, it is still not that much of a divergence. Currently, most experts recognize only a single species of red fox, but Old World and North American red foxes diverged 400,000 years ago.

African cheetahs have evolved to hunt on open plains. Various small antelopes comprise the majority of their diet. They are not ecologically that different from cheetahs that lived on the plains of India.

So they aren’t that genetically distinct from each other, and they aren’t ecologically that different either.

It would make sense to bring African cheetahs to India. Of course, the legal system and the interpretation of statutes often goes against sound conservation policy.

But if cheetahs are ever to return to India, the question is now in the hands of India’s supreme court.

I hope they decide that those from Africa can stand in. They are far from exact, but they are far from ersatz.

 

Natural History

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Dogumentary TV incorrectly blasts show German shepherd hips

Dogumentary TV is a channel I generally like on Youtube, and I’ve watched it since it was called “Bully Badass TV,” when it was mostly about American bully subculture. (American bullies are blocky-headed, very-toned down offshoots of the AmStaff and American pit bull terrier breeds).  It is sometimes quite good, especially when Zeke interviewed my friend Brad Anderson.

Recently, Zeke purchased an FCI-strain Rottweiler pup named Roscoe, and he’s been doing this series about why he chose a Rottweiler over another breed.  This week, he posted about why he chose a Rottweiler over a German shepherd.

Ten years ago, I would have chosen a Rottweiler over a GSD. All of my experiences with Rottweilers were good, and none of my experiences with German shepherds were good. I lived where there were a lot of fence barking GSD, and there were quite a few that were known for biting. Rottweilers were mostly just good ol’ farm dogs.

But as people know, I’ve totally changed my mind about German shepherds. And I blamed the blasted dogs for this embarrassing turn around. These dogs fit my personality better than any other dog I’ve spent time with.

I don’t have anything against bite-work bred GSD, and it was actually one of these dogs that changed my mind. But her high energy and high levels of dog aggression made it very hard for us to manage in a house full of delicate sighthounds.

The really well-bred show dogs, though, really do fit well into our house. They are not dog aggressive. They have a lot of drive, but they have an off-switch. Quest can bark and look intimidating, but he’s not particularly dangerous.

So I do like these show-bred German shepherds. You may hate me for it, but I always have reserved the right to change my mind when I’m presented with more compelling evidence.

One reason I hated show GSD is really the big reason that Zeke decided to blast the show dogs. Yes, I know that Zeke knows mastiff and mountain dog-type dogs better than herding breeds, but in this installment of Dogumentary TV, he decided to say that the show German shepherds have bad hips because of their rear angulation.

You can hate their rear angulation all you want, but their hips do not contribute to their rears. Indeed, the truth of the matter is the hips on American show-line German shepherds have steadily improved over the years, because breeders have paid really close attention to this issue. They still breed for the flashy rears, but they also breed for good hips.

I’ve taken in a few randomly-bred and poorly-bred working-line GSD over the past year, and we’ve had their hips x-rayed.  Not a single one has had anything that could pass OFA.

I know Zeke prefers mastiff-type dogs from an aesthetic perspective. I personally don’t, but that’s okay. He doesn’t like dogs that shed very much, and he’s very right to avoid this breed if he wants low shedding.

However, he’s used the classic formulation of show vs. working GSD that is guaranteed to set a dog up for failure. When we say that the show dogs are all a mess and that they cannot walk because of their bad hips, we aren’t just wrong.  We are setting up a disaster.

If you tell the average person that they need to get a German shepherd without the extra rear angulation, they will go to the bite-work bred dogs. There are breeders who produce quality ones, but they are not cheap. There are also many more breeders who are breeding bitework dogs with very little health testing and often without working tests as well. Haphazard breeding of dogs with this amount of energy  can result in animals that are quite hard to live with.

He is quite right in saying that he’d avoid the working German shepherds that he has met because of their energy level.  But he’s quite wrong that the show-bred dogs are this level of mess.  Getting the temperament right on a dog that can bite people and still be safe to have in public is not easy, and the typical dog owner cannot give a really super active working dog what it needs to thrive.

What is even more disappointing is that he showed American show German shepherds in several short slow motion clips, all of which showed the dogs in awkward positions. He did not show a single dog in full gait. The American-style gait is free flowing, and one of the most beautiful sights in all the dog world. It is seeing this gait in person that changed my mind most profoundly about  what I thought about American show-line German shepherds.

Just for the record, here are the hip x-rays from Quest’s OFA prelims. He was designated as OFA Good for hips and normal for elbows.

quest's hips

Here is Quest playing around. He is one of those “slopeback cripples.” He has a lot of power in those back legs, though. He can launch himself way out into a lake to fetch a ball or stick.

shot put quest.jpg

Dogumentary TV is a well-produced Youtube channel. I enjoy many of the installments. Ultimately, though, a lot of the information one gets from the channel is up to the “expert” Zeke interviews. Some of these people know a lot. Some are into blowing lots of smoke, and unfortunately, he has bought into the “sloping back = bad hips” nonsense that some working-line breeders and internet personalities promote.

So I wish that Zeke would interview a breeder of German shepherds who does produce for the AKC show ring. He would do well talking to someone who breeds SV dogs for sieger shows as well. Both AKC and SV conformation lines have been selected for better hips. The SV requires it for all breeding stock, and the best AKC show breeders are constantly getting x-rays and DNA tests.

No one is trying to breed a dysplastic dog on purpose.

And yes, I used to believe all this stuff, but I forced myself to be objective. That’s the toughest thing in the world of dogs. Objectivity.

And yes, I know that Zeke is not really a German shepherd expert. He always leaned more toward the harder-edge mastiff and mountain dog breeds than I ever will.

I also have learned as I’ve grown up in the world of dogs that I don’t know everything, and I can be profoundly wrong about something. In fact, I was so wrong about German shepherds that I had no idea that this was the actual breed for me.

When something like that happens in your life,  you begin to wonder about other things in which you might still be in error. That’s one reason I hold back so much on the dog blogging these days.

I can still be controversial about dogs, but I now know I must be more diligent about what I think is true.

So that will hold me back a bit, but it will be for the better.

I wish Zeke the best of luck with his new Rottweiler pup. He looks like a really nice dog with great genetics.

And I think he made the right decision, but I still wish he would educate himself a bit more on why German shepherds have their particular conformation and how this does relate to their exact hip joint formation. It’s  just not related to the slope of the back.

You can like it or hate. But the extended rear angulation and sloping back are not the cause of bad hips in German shepherds. No credible expert actually believes that the two factors are related, because there are many dogs with sloping backs and extremely angulated rears that have super hips.

Yes, I’m aware that this is an age-old dog controversy.  But we have enough data from actual show dogs to show that this association between sloping backs and angulated rears and bad hips is not of a causal nature.

Hate ’em all you want.  But it’s not a health or welfare issue.

 

 

Natural History

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Head tilt

Patented German shepherd head tilt.

cropped-dare-head-tilt.jpg

Natural History

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How to Walk Two Dogs at Once

This post includes affiliate links. Walking two dogs at once can be twice the fun…or twice the challenge! When the dogs are large and strong, the task of one person walking two dogs is one that…



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DogTipper

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Easy Halloween Pizzas

Easy Halloween Pizzas

I originally shared this recipe last year, but we’ve been making them nonstop around here this month, Halloween is in 3 weeks, so it only seemed right to share again. The original recipe I shared was for all plant-based, vegan products, but we have made them with regular cheese too, and I have updated the recipe to reflect this.

These are so easy to make and so much fun! My kids love them as an after school snack and for lunch on the weekends. They’d be perfect for a Halloween party too. They’re yummy food and a craft in one.

Vegan Mini Pizzas
Vegan Mini Halloween Pizzas

Easy Mini Halloween Pizzas
Makes 6 mini pizzas

INGREDIENTS

6 english muffins*, halved
3 cups shredded cheese or vegan cheese (we usually do a mix of mozzarella and cheddar)
1 cup jarred pizza sauce
black olives
green olives
green pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Placed halved english muffins cut side up on a baking sheet, and top each with pizza sauce until covered, then top with cheese shreds. (If you want to make a mummy pizza, use the cheese shreds to form “bandages”.) Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is fully melted. Then get creative! To make a jack-o-lantern, create a face with black olives and sliced green pepper, and a pumpkin stem from green pepper. To make a spider pizza, top with a vertically halved black olive for the body, a horizontally halved black olive for the head, and sliced black olives for the legs. To make a mummy pizza, use green olives to create eyes. To make a monster/Frankenstein pizza, top with a piece of sliced green pepper and small olive pieces.

Mini Halloween Pizzas
Vegan Halloween Pizzas
Mini Halloween Pizzas

Happy Halloween snacking!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Classic Kids’ Halloween Costume Ideas

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids
Family Halloween Costume Ideas

Yes, I know it’s still September, and trust me, unlike the majority of blogger/IG influencers/whatever-the-label-is-this-month, I cling to summer until the bitter end (and beyond). But today is officially the first day of fall, and deciding on Halloween costumes is my favorite part of fall. So here we are.

When it comes to Halloween costumes, I am a sucker for simple, timeless costumes. So much so that I spend way more late nights than I should probably admit browsing online for classic costume ideas. This post may even look a little familiar to you, as I’ve shared a roundup of classic costumes for kids before. (Don’t worry though; this one is new and improved, and actually organized in alphabetical order this time.)

Essley’s first two Halloween costumes were a handmade black cat and a simple bumble bee. Two years ago, when she was old enough to decide for herself, she asked to be a pumpkin (as seen in the photos above). That sweet pumpkin might have been my favorite costume to date. (I bought this one, which we still have. It’s incredibly well made and so cute in person.) That same year, Emmett was a skeleton, via a pair of simple skeleton pajamas (we got these, which are only $ 15) and a black baby beanie. The following year, Essley decided to be a mermaid, which while much fancier than the others, is still a timeless costume. (Here is a similar one.)  Emmett decided to be a dinosaur (similar to this costume) that year, and the costume was minimal and adorable. Last year, Essley chose to be a butterfly and Emmett a shark (this costume, but in grey). Essley got creative with her costume which I absolutely loved. (We bought this set for $ 16 then added face paint and antennae.) And both costumes remained (at least in my eyes) classic. This year, their potential costumes ideas have changed multiples times, and I am well aware that the days of them choosing simple, more traditional costumes may well be over. I am, of course, 100% behind that as well. This is their holiday, and they should enjoy it in their own ways.  (You’ll still find me obsessing over classic costume ideas at 1 AM on most nights in October.)

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

  • Angel
  • Ballerina
  • Bat
  • Bear
  • Black Cat
  • Bumblebee 
  • Butterfly
  • Clown
  • Devil
  • Dinosaur
  • Dog
  • Dracula
  • Dragon
  • Fairy
  • Frankenstein
  • Ghost
  • Ladybug
  • Lion
  • Mermaid
  • Mime
  • Monkey
  • Monster
  • Mouse
  • Mummy
  • Pirate
  • Princess or Prince (handmade rather than character)
  • Pumpkin
  • Shark
  • Scarecrow
  • Skeleton
  • Superhero (handmade rather than character)
  • Vampire 
  • Witch

If you have any other classic costume ideas, please share! Is it too early to wish you a happy Halloween?

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Everybody say “awwwww”

I don’t have a good caption for this, but it was too cute not to share. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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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

Natural History

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The Tragedy of the Dog

Dogs are blessed and cursed by their co-evolution with our species. They are blessed in that their numbers greatly exceed any wild canid species. Many of the ones in much of the developed world receive better access to heath care, good food, and clean water than the poorest people on the planet.

As animals relating to people, dogs go more than half way in trying to communicate with us.  They go even further in how tightly they bond to us.

But this ease of relationship has certain negative consequences. Because dogs are “almost human,” as goes the cliche, we tend to think their entire existence is much like ours.

However, these assumptions are often faulty. We forget that they are still very much carnivorans, very much wolves. Yes, modified by domestication and co-evolution but still they are of that lineage, that natural history. And we cannot deny this simple reality.

We live in world that is increasingly alienated from nature.  The West is heavily urbanized. and fewer and fewer people understand other beings in ecosystems or even in agriculture.

So many people now get dogs without understanding the full context of the animal.  It is the only large carnivoran that most will ever see outside of a zoo, and it will certainly the be the only one that most will ever know on an intimate level.

And herein lies the problem.  The dog’s co-evolution with us gives it special status in our society, but we are largely operating on an understanding that dogs are just like people.

So we have “fur-kids” and “fur-moms” and “fur-dads.”  People are afraid to correct their dogs. They are afraid to train them. They are afraid to cut nails. They are afraid to understand them.

At the same time, the transient nature of modern society has alienated us from each other, and dogs become that ersatz human connection, and this problem compounds with the previous one.

So when I see someone attempting to walk a dog on a harness with a retractable leash, I see two beings in conflict. I see the human, who is seeking to have some sort of communion with the dog, and I see the dog, which has no idea about what is expected in proper society. It is craving essential communication, but this communication it will never receive. If it had received it, it would have learned to walk on the lead attached to its flat collar.

But the retractable leash gives the dog the illusion of freedom, a freedom that it does not seek as much as it would like to know the person on the other end of the line.

The person on the other end, though, either does not know or does not want to know that the dog is not a child. It is no way Homo sapiens.  To confront this reality is too difficult for some, for to admit such a thing is to admit the horrors of modern existence, all alienated from human connection and the natural world from which we sprang.

But there is a profound egocentrism in this convenient anthropomorphism. It is saying that no only does the world revolve around us, even our companion animals must fit our narrow paradigms.

This is the tragedy of the dog in the modern era. It lives better than ever in so many ways, but in so many ways, it is removed from what it is at its core, every bit as much as we are.

Yes, it is weird that I feel a sadness when I see a dog in harness being walked on one of those horrendous leashes, but the sadness I feel is justified.

Because I know dogs for what they are, and I love them for it. I try to give them what their animal side truly needs. The best I can anyway. For I am also short of the Pleistocene hunter-gatherer’s skillset and privilege, but I can try.  Yes, I can try.

 

 

 

Natural History

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