With all of the rallies going on in Washington, DC this weekend, it made me think about ways we might support dog-related causes. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!
The word “dog” connotes familiarity. The domestic creature that we know so well is Canis lupus familiaris. We know it as well as family.
But the truth of the matter there is a whole world of dogs we don’t know at all. When we look beyond the domestic into wild, there is a world that so utterly alien to us that we rely upon scientists and nature documentaries to tell us about it.
And the scientists know wild dogs. That is not to say that they know everything about them, but if we look at what science knows about wolves, red foxes, and coyotes, then we see that many of the questions have already been answered.
Red foxes are known because of their ubiquity. North America and Eurasia are full of them, and they’ve been introduced to Australia, where they are a pretty nasty invasive species. Wolves are known because they have become avatars for the conservation movement. It was this species that came to symbolize the wild in both North America and Europe, and its restoration is seen as a sort of redemption for all the other massacres and mismanagement that have so stained our relationship with the wild creatures. And so long as coyotes live in the canyons, brush-thickets, and suburban lawns of most of North America, they will be studied as much as they are both reviled and revered in their new kingdom.
Wild dogs have their die-hard enthusiasts. Researchers follow the African wild dog throughout the lion ranges, trying to find out more about them, and other researchers go to Chiloe to find out the deepest secrets of the Darwin’s fox.
But the truth of the matter is there one wild dog that we will never get to know. It is one that haunts the jungles and never reveals to us what it truly is.
Atelocynus microtis is how the scientists know it. English-speakers call it a “short-eared dog, and it is truly a bizarre creature. Weighing roughly 20 pounds, it slinks through the rainforests of the Amazonian interior on webbed cat feet. It has a long, pointed muzzle, almost like a coyote’s, but its resemblance to the North American little wolf is instantly shatter when one looks at its ears. They are are short and rounded where the coyote’s are often freakishly large and sharply pointed.
Unlike the coyote, which can live in the urban world quite well, the short-eared dog lives by totally shunning mankind. If humans can easily live in an area, you won’t find a short-eared dog.
Many theories about its rarity near human settlements exist, but the most intriguing is that it really is deeply impacted by the presence of domestic dogs. Domestic dogs, which derive from Eurasian wolves, carry a whole host of diseases to which the short-eared dog has no immunity. Perhaps canine disease swept through the short-eared dog population, leaving behind only those individuals with a genetic tendency to avoid people.
They wander the jungles–lowland forest, Amazonian forest, and even cloud forest–but reveal their secrets to us only in glints and glares, in quick camera trap captures and occasion run-ins along forest trails.
They materialize as mysteriously as coyotes do in the white-tail woods, yet they reveal almost nothing as they pass. They appear and are gone like phantoms in the mist.
A few years ago, one was kept captive. He was found as an abandoned puppy in the Peruvian Amazon. A veterinarian named Renata Leite Pitman kept him, and her time of this creatures, which she named “Oso,” came to be the most intensive relationships anyone has ever had with a short-eared dog. She took Oso on long walks in the forest, and Oso revealed his secrets to her.
She used him to connect with the wild ones. The approached him while he was on leash, seeming to ignore that he was attached to a human. A female offer to mate with him. A male stalked him from a distance.
She came to know that Oso had an innate fear of jaguars. If she showed him jaguar scat or played jaguar sounds, he would run in terror. He was so young when captured that there is no way he could have learned this from his mother.
From Oso, we learned that the short-eared dog is a major seed disperser, but they still prefer meat to all other foods.
We also learned that male short-eared dogs aren’t sexually mature until they are three years old. Their testicles simply don’t descend until then. For a dog of that size, that is remarkably long time before sexual maturity.
Leite Pitman studied others of Oso’s kind. She set up camera traps and put radio collars them.
But we still know next to nothing about them.
Their exact range is still hotly debated. They have been spotted as far north as Panama’s Darien Province, and it is suggested that the mysterious mitla the Percy Fawcett encountered in Bolivia was likely a short-eared dog or something very much like one.
Compared with what L. David Mech and Doug Smith know about wolves or what Stanley Gehrt and Simon Gadbois know about coyotes or David MacDdnald knows about red foxes, Renata Leite Pitman has only scratch the tiniest layer of the surface when it comes the short-eared dog.
This will be the enigma dog, the one we simply cannot know. The jungle will hide it well, and it will live without us knowing.
There is nearly a pop culture following for the thylacine, that extinct marsupial carnivore from Tasmania that looked like a wild dog with a pouch. It’s probably extinct, but it is still an enigma. It was an enigma when it was alive, and it is an even more so now that it is gone. We want it to be alive so we can have it reveal its secrets, but these secrets have passed with the last of the striped false canine.
But the short-eared dog is still here. Its mysteries are still looming long in the mist. Maybe we can find out. Maybe we can know.
But this creature seeks to avoid our kind, enemies who bring not just violence of predations as the jaguar does but also the pestilences that waft from the lop-eared village wolves through the jungle air.
Atelocynus mictrotis is canis enigmaticus. The enigma protects it, shrouds it, veils it in mystery.
And without us, it moves long the jungle paths, sniffing the air for jaguars and rotting fruit. Free but harried. Unmastered but unknown.
This is the dog we will not know as it wanders the Lost World away from us into the densest thicket.
Doesn’t it seem like it was just New Year’s Day? Well, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and today we kicked off a mega Valentine’s Day giveaway with Bark &…
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First and foremost, thank you and the countless others who provided a voice for the innocent fur baby victims of the vile and disgusting Vick.
It troubles me that you carry such horrific imagery of what occurred at the pool on Vick's property. Someone with such compassion for the voiceless doesn't deserve such a heavy burden. It speaks volumes about you as a deeply compassionate person, that you have absorbed the pain of what these innocent creatures must have endured, although I do hope somehow this burden can be lifted from your shoulders and your mind.
I am not one that easily forgives although, being a person of faith and knowing God encourages us to forgive, I do try. I cannot say this about Vick though, God forgive me but, in my mind to forgive or even try to forgive that vile, disgusting excuse for a human being would be no different that worshiping the devil himself. Maybe he has paid his debt to society from a legal view (although I say that is crud) but he has not and in my opinion will never pay his just dues to each and every animal who suffered at his hand. Since individuals like him don't usually change for the better, I fear dogs may now be suffering the same fate at his hand and pray to God that I'm wrong.
God forgive me, but I pray that when Vick's time has come that he receives the very same compassion that he showed the dogs unfortunate enough to live and die in his world. May he suffer no less than 10 times the pain and slow death for each dog that suffered at his hand. Unless there are others we know of at least 51 so by my calculations he is deserving of no less than 510 times the suffering and slow death as his victims. May there be a pool filled with plenty of water with Vick's name on it as well as many batteries at the ready also with Vick's name on them. I know perfect location on his body to attach the electrical cables and it is NOT on his ears.
Thank you again Donna and may you find peace from the burdens you carry.
BAD RAP Blog
I own several pit bulls and love them to death. I really don't like people out there that have such a negative view on them. Just because the owner mistreats there dog doesn't mean the dog is bad, just trained that way. I own www.pitbullsupply.com and hear a lot of stories from my customers.
Thank you for sharing
BAD RAP Blog
‘Jilly Bennett Photography – Blog’
It’s time for me move on – or rather sideways! This blog, along with Menton Daily Photo has been running for 10 years and it’s time to consolidate so that everything is in one place.
Thank you, thank you for your loyalty to Riviera Dogs and to me. Your loyalty, your comments and encouragement helped me so much in my photography journey.
The new blog will be published probably once or twice a week – but with more photos and more words. And of course there will be lots and lots of dogs – but also stories of life in France and Italy and sometimes a little about photography.
Of course, if you want to look back at postings on this blog, well, they are not going anywhere. You’ll be able to find all the posts and photographs from the last ten years at any time – I just won’t be posting here anymore.
So onwards…. if you are interested in dogs (and you’d not be here if you weren’t) but also life as it’s really lived in the south of France and Italy and my journey in photography, come with me …
Click on the link Jilly Bennett Photography and do subscribe for updates. Don’t forget to click on the confirmation button you receive after subscribing and then you’ll find me in your mailbox on a regular basis.
We welcome our veterinary overlords! Well, kind of, but not really. Yesterday’s announcement that Mars PetCare acquired VCA for 7.7 billion was a shocker to everyone I know in the pet care industry, which just goes to show you us peons are always the last to know.
Disclosure: I am speaking only for myself here and from my own experiences.
I spent part of my career at Banfield, which is part of the growing Mars empire. That wasn’t the case when I joined, when veterinary clinics were almost entirely veterinarian-owned, including Banfield itself. Scott Campbell, the DVM owner, stood in front of my little group of new hires and promised us with all sincerity that Banfield would never, ever be sold to a corporate entity, a promise he kept for all of four years. It was the first domino to fall in corporate ownership, which many had predicted and he insisted never would.
I left Banfield before the Mars buyout to work in an emergency hospital owned by a husband/wife vet team, and then I came back to Banfield after my second child. In the interim Banfield had undergone the Mars turnover, and to be honest, there was a lot to like. They had implemented evidence-based medicine and were compiling a clinical database the likes of which we had never seen, allowing veterinary medicine to conduct clinical research on a scale that has never been done before. Their anesthesia protocol book is to this day one of my favorite veterinary resources.
The 24 hour emergency hospital I worked at was a bit of a Wild West environment in that we had more leeway and less oversight, in a crazy busy environment; as you can surmise this is both a good and a bad thing depending on who is at the wheel. I learned a ton in a trial by fire way, but I also had little to no safety net. (That hospital was later acquired by VCA, and is also now part of the Mars empire. There’s no escape!) There’s pros and cons to everything, as a client, and as an associate.
Mars: Chocolate and Pets are a Natural Fit
(that’s a joke)
With yesterday’s acquisition, Mars Petcare is now the largest moneymaker in the Mars divisions. After the big Banfield takeover in 2007, things quieted down, but for the last couple of years Mars has been on a tear. They almost doubled the number of hospitals they owned with yesterday’s news, which is the biggest since they bought Iams/Eukanuba off Procter and Gamble in 2014. They own a lot of pet companies.
That’s a lot of pet hospitals, pet foods, labs, and pet foods. What’s more, it’s two of the biggest hospital groups in the country, now under one umbrella. (Note: The affiliation with Western University’s teaching hospital ended at the end of its ten year contract, in 2014.)
On the one hand, when you consider there’s about 29,000 veterinary clinics in the US, the total now owned by Mars seems like a drop in the bucket. Around 7%:
On the other hand, I’m not naive enough to think this trend stops right here. That’s probably what optometrists and pharmacists said way back in the good old days, too.
So What Does This Mean?
I wish I could tell you, but just like everyone else, I can only guess and postulate. Let me be clear: I am 100% neutral on this. I am Corporate Switzerland. When I had two young children, working for Banfield offered me the most stable hours and a good salary in an environment where I was able to practice very good medicine. I always felt empowered to do what was best for my patients, including referring to outside hospitals, deferring vaccines, providing the best pain management I had access to, scripting out meds. I never felt obligated to recommend Mars-owned pet foods and felt free to discuss any brand prescription diets I wanted to.
I know there’s lots of horror stories out there too, and I don’t imply they don’t exist. Asses are everywhere, and they are asses because they are asses, not because of where they work. They spread their miasma wherever they go, and I’ve encountered it in environments corporate and private. The veterinarians you will encounter in a corporate practice were educated in the same places, cry the same amount in frustration, care the same way, stand up for the patients, and occasionally prove themselves poor examples of the profession, in exact same proportions as vets in privately owned practices.
To the same extent corporate ownership increases bureaucracy and headaches, it pumps much needed investment into failing businesses, brings in better medical oversight, and can offer more diverse opportunities for employees and customers.
It also provides more leverage for buying power and advertising, which often squeezes out mom-and-pop operations without those same advantages. I can understand why so many business owners are worried. It’s a valid worry.
Bottom line: As a client, I don’t think you’re going to see big changes, at least not in the short term. If you have concerns, talk to your veterinarian. We’re all trying to sort out what this means too- as far as I know we all found out this morning when you did too.
As a veterinarian: Buckle up. I anticipate much hand waving in the near future. Do we welcome our veterinary corporate overlords or join the rebel alliance?
If you have any insight from the trenches, please do comment.
“Excited about my new bag of @halopets food! Human is acting like he doesn’t seem me sitting here ready to eat.”
When asked if Kale eats a vegan diet, he replied:
“…with the exception of the occasional grasshopper or spider outside lol yes. The changes in my coat and my energy have been great.”
Thanks Kale for sharing your thoughts. We hope you continue to enjoy your Halo vegan food.
Halo Vegan Garden Medley is a complete and balance all-vegan kibble & cans with WHOLE ingredients and highly digestible proteins. Plus, we donate a bowl to shelters every time YOU buy!
The Duffy family in Northern Ireland had to buy their two-year-old dog Teddy a new ID tag after they renamed her “Super Teddy.” What earned her the new name? Twice in as many months, Teddy acted like a hero for the family. Teddy may not be the fastest dog alive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but she is definitely a super dog.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the first time that Teddy acted like a hero involved a phone. Aaron Duffy told reporters that Teddy “alerted us that an iPhone charger was catching fire.” The second time was Teddy sounding an even more serious alert – that five-year-old Riley Gedge-Duffy’s life was in danger.
Riley has Down syndrome. The family told ITV that he enjoys hiding himself and can’t understand certain dangers. While Aaron’s wife, Gillian, was vacuuming one Sunday, Teddy “ran upstairs and basically went berserk so she knew something was not right.” Gillian told ITV “She was running in and out of the room looking at me, wanting me to follow her, and it just clicked that there was something up.”
Gillian ran downstairs shouting “Where’s Riley?” because she knew that her five-year-old son was in danger. Gillian then saw Teddy running back and forth to their dryer machine, “barking like mad.”