Category: Science

New ideas about our relationship with dogs.

What a delight to read this latest scientific news.

There’s so much ‘doom and gloom’ to be seen on the news services across the world that a genuine discovery that enlarges the mind is always a treat. Now make that a discovery about our dogs. Better still, let the BBC do it for you.

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How did dogs become our best friends? New evidence

19 July 2017

Dogs most probably evolved from wolves at a single location about 20,000 to 40,000 years ago, a study suggests.

Previously, it had been thought that dogs were tamed from two populations of wolves living thousands of miles apart.

Researchers studied DNA from three dogs found at archaeological sites in Germany and Ireland that were between 4,700 and 7,000 years old.

The ancient canines share ancestry with modern European dogs.

By looking at the rates of change to the DNA from the oldest specimen, scientists were able to place the timing of the domestication of dogs to between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Krishna Veeramah of Stony Brook University in New York is a researcher on the study.

He said the process of dog domestication began when a population of wolves moved to the outskirts of hunter-gatherer camps to scavenge for leftovers.

”Those wolves that were tamer and less aggressive would have been more successful at this,” he explained.

“While the humans did not initially gain any kind of benefit from this process, over time they would have developed some kind of symbiotic relationship with these animals, eventually evolving into the dogs we see today.”

DNA was obtained from the skull of an ancient dog.

The story of how dogs came to be tamed from wolves is complex and hotly debated.

Scientists believe dogs started moving around the world, perhaps with their human companions, about 20,000 years ago.

By 7,000 years ago, they were pretty much everywhere, although they were not the kind of dogs that we would consider pets.

”They would likely have resembled dogs we today call village dogs, which are free-breeding that did not live in specific people’s houses and have a similar look to them across the world,” said Dr Veeramah.

The dogs were later bred for their skills as hunters, herders or gundogs, eventually creating hundreds of modern breeds.

The research, published in Nature Communications, suggests even the dog breeds and village dogs found in the Americas and Pacific Islands are almost completely derived from recent European dog stock.

This is probably due to prolific dog breeding in Victorian times.

The dog skull inside an ancient burial chamber.

”In this regard, it appears therefore that our 7,000-year, Neolithic-old dog from Europe is virtually an ancestor to most modern breed dogs found throughout the world,” said Dr Veeramah.

”This ancestral relationship may even stretch back to the oldest dog fossil we know of, which is approximately 14,000 years old from Germany.”

Previous evidence suggested that the first domestic dogs appeared on opposite sides of the Eurasian continent more than 12,000 years ago.

Later, the eastern dogs moved with migrating humans and bred with those from the west, according to this theory.

Dr Greger Larson of the University of Oxford said it was great to see more ancient dog genomes being published.

“There is a fascinating story here and we’re only just scraping the surface,” he said.

“The more we get the more we might have a shot at finally unravelling the story of how we became such good friends over such a long time.”

Follow Helen on Twitter.

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Once read, it was but a moment to do a web search for Dr Veeramah and bring up the news of his research on the Stony Brook Newsroom.

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Study Reveals Origin of Modern Dog Has a Single Geographic Origin

Reported in Nature Communications, the finding counters previous research that suggested two domestication events led to the modern dog

Stony Brook, NY; Stony Brook University: Department of Ecology and Evolution Assistant Professor Krishna Veeramah. His research will be published in Nature and his study reveals origin of modern dog has a single geographic origin.

STONY BROOK, N.Y., July 18, 2017 – By analyzing the DNA of two prehistoric dogs from Germany, an international research team led by Krishna R. Veeramah, PhD, Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolution in the College of Arts & Sciences at Stony Brook University, has determined that their genomes were the probable ancestors of modern European dogs. The finding, to be published in Nature Communications, suggests a single domestication event of modern dogs from a population of gray wolves that occurred between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Dogs were the first animal to be domesticated by humans. The oldest dog fossils that can be clearly distinguished from wolves are from the region of what is now Germany from around 15,000 years ago. However, the archeological record is ambiguous, with claims of ancient domesticated dog bones as far east as Siberia. Recent analysis of genetic data from modern dogs adds to mystery, with some scientists suggesting many areas of Europe, Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East as possible origins of dog domestication.

(L to R) Shyamalika Gopalan, PhD Candidate, Dean Bobo, Bioinformatics Scientist, and Krishna Veermah, Assistant Professor of Ecology & Evolution. (F) Four-legged friend, Joci

In 2016, research by scientists using emerging paleogenomics techniques proved effective for sequencing the genome of a 5,000-year-old ancient dog from Ireland. The results of the study led the research team to suggest dogs were domesticated not once but twice. The team from Oxford University also hypothesized that an indigenous dog population domesticated in Europe was replaced by incoming migrants domesticated independently in East Asia sometime during the Neolithic era.

“Contrary to the results of this previous analysis, we found that our ancient dogs from the same time period were very similar to modern European dogs, including the majority of breed dogs people keep as pets,” explained Dr. Veeramah. “This suggests that there was no mass Neolithic replacement that occurred on the continent and that there was likely only a single domestication event for the dogs observed in the fossil record from the Stone Age and that we also see and live with today.”

In the paper, titled “Ancient European dog genomes reveal continuity since the Early Neolithic,” Veeramah and colleagues used the older 7,000 year old dog to narrow the timing of dog domestication to the 20,000 to 40,000 years ago range.

They also found evidence of the younger 5,000 year old dog to be a mixture of European dogs and something that resembles current central Asian/Indian dogs. This finding may reflect that people moving into Europe from the Asian Steppes at the beginning of the Bronze Age brought their own dogs with them.

“We also reanalyzed the ancient Irish dog genome alongside our German dog genomes and believe we found a number of technical errors in the previous analysis that likely led those scientists to incorrectly make the conclusion of a dual domestication event,” added Veeramah.

Overall, he emphasized, their new genomic analysis of ancient dogs will help scientists better understand the process of dog evolution, even if the exact geographic origin of domestication remains a mystery. He expects further sequencing of the ancient genomes from Eurasia will help to eventually solve the issue.

The study and findings are a collaboration between scientists at Stony Brook University; the University of Michigan, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Germany; University of Bamberg, Germany; Trinity College, Ireland; and the Department of Monumental Heritage in Germany.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.

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 About Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 25,700 students, 2,500 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.

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Even better than the University providing the link to the above, it also gave me the good Doctor’s email address. I shall reach out to him and see if there is more that I can share with you!

Visiting the Vet – Updates

How this theme is taking shape!

But first, let me offer an update and a correction.

In my first report, published on June 28th, the very first patient for Dr. Jim was Ginger.Here’s an extract from that report:

It was immediately clear to Jim when he listened to Ginger’s heart that it was racing; Jim thought at something like 200 beats per minute. Jim continued to check Ginger over although, as he told me later, he had an idea that Ginger’s medical problem was a cardiac issue. Jim arranged for Ginger to be given an X-ray as well as blood work.

A number of you wanted me to check on Ginger’s status. Jim said that in a follow-up call made by the clinic they were told that Ginger was doing well.

The second item is a correction. In the report that described Lynn bringing in a stray kitten that had terrible puss oozing from one eye, I wrote: “Moments later Jim has not only cleaned out all the puss but found and removed the cause of the infection that was behind the kitten’s eyeball.”

When I queried with Jim what was the cause of the infection, he said that there was nothing physical behind the eye but that the kitten had contracted a severe eye infection probably a viral infection. The kitten was also doing well.

So last Thursday, the 13th July, I returned to Lincoln Road, arriving at 09:45. My plan was to spend the morning with Jim and then the afternoon with Dr. Russel  Codd the owner of the clinic.

It was another wonderfully interesting day and I have sufficient material for the next two to three weeks.

This is Cooper, a male Jack Russell, being checked out by Dr. Russ.

Dr. Russ started the afternoon at 14:30 so there was a bit of a wait after Jim had finished his morning at 12:05. That prompted me to see if future sessions watching Dr. Russ at work could be morning ones.

In other words, I would go across to Lincoln Road on two mornings a month; one to spend with Dr. Jim and one with Dr. Russ. I have yet to speak to Russ about that but can’t envisage an issue.

What Russel Codd did say to me that afternoon was that he really supported this theme and that he might arrange for me to ‘shadow’ one or two specialists who work locally in Grants Pass.  Plus, I did venture the idea that maybe there was book potential and Russ was very happy with that possible development as well.

So Sue, there’s the answer to you writing last week: “Lots of information here perhaps for a second book?” Great suggestion! (Indeed, good people, I am giving the idea of turning this series into a book very careful thought and will ask for feedback from you in a subsequent post once I am clearer about the purpose and objectives of such a book.)

So the first of my reports from my visit on the 13th will be published either later this week or early next week.

Thank you, everyone, for your interest, suggestions and support. You really are a great group of readers!

Visiting the Vet – Transformations.

This is why some choose to become veterinary doctors.

Today I write about the last animal that Dr. Jim attended to from my morning at Lincoln Road on June 22nd. I have been blown away by the interest in this theme from so many of you. Thank you!

Indeed, today I am back at the clinic spending both the morning and some of the afternoon watching and recording.

My plan from now on, subject to Dr. Codd supporting the idea, is to spend time at the clinic roughly one day a month. For in just the five or six hours of a day’s visit there is such a variety of events that it will provide more than enough material for me to present Visiting the Vet posts regularly each week during the following month.

OK! Now to the last patient that morning.

12:20

A woman carries in a stray kitten that had been found on the premises of a local scrap metal dealer.

The woman, Lynn, didn’t hesitate to bring the kitten to Lincoln Road because it had an infected right eye.

Jim takes some blood, in itself a bit of a challenge with such a young kitten, and looks more closely at the male kitten. He observes that the eye is most terribly infected with puss pouring out and Jim is of no doubt that the kitten had this eye infection since birth just a few weeks ago.

I come closer to take a photograph (the one above) and am in awe of the delicate way that Jim uses a tiny swab, Lynn holding the kitten for Jim, to clear the puss away from the eye. Moments later Jim has not only cleaned out all the puss but found and removed the cause of the infection that was behind the kitten’s eyeball.

12:40 The kitten sees with both eyes. What a transformation in just twenty minutes.

Jim looks up at Lynn: “Lynn, you do know you have saved his life!”

Lynn replies: “I didn’t really want another cat!”

Jim then gets some food for the kitten and gives it time to settle down.

Lynn and I chat and I am flattered to learn that Lynn has previously purchased a copy of my book. It can be such a small world at times!

12:30 All done. Lynn wraps the kitten back into the same towel that was used to bring it in to the clinic such a short time ago.

Thus ended my first experience of being behind the scenes of a busy vet practice.

The experience has profoundly affected me.

For as well as the astounding level of medical skill that I have observed it was also clear, as Jim put it, that he has to play counselor, psychotherapist, and even bartender. Why bartender? Because Jim quietly offers the observation that quite a few persons come in with their pets when they are the worse for drink! The owner that is not the animal!

Seriously though, let me offer what I concluded after just this one visit to Lincoln Road. That Jim and, I’m sure, Dr. Russ and many thousands of DVMs across the world, have many more demands on them than just being a good doctor.

They must display attention to detail and have an inquiring mind. They must be genuinely empathetic for the animal owner’s circumstances. But also good record keepers! Also they will have to endure a great deal of kneeling. Then, again, those knees have to be topped with a head that is jam-packed full of knowledge and experience to avoid jumping to incorrect conclusions. More subjectively, their emotions have to be kept under control for they frequently will see animals that have not been best cared for and, again all too frequently, they will have to end the life of a dear pet as gently and painlessly as is possible.

To be continued!

Visiting the Vet – Buffy & Chloe

Still it comes, one pet after another!

It’s 11:05

This is Buffy, a nine-year-old Dachshund crossed with a Terrier, who is drinking and peeing too much according to the lady who brought Buffy in to the clinic this morning. Adding that Buffy seems to be always hungry and quieter than normal.

Jim runs a blood test and not long after says that nothing has jumped out at him as a potential issue from Part One of the test results. (Apparently, the blood test comprised two parts – I will learn more in a subsequent visit to Lincoln Road.)

Buffy’s heart sounds good. Buffy has not lost weight.

Then Part Two of the blood test results reveal, thankfully, that Buffy is not diabetic, is not indicating Cushing’s Syndrome, and that Buffy’s kidneys are fine.

In other words, Buffy has the look of a healthy dog.

Has this all been a waste of time and money? Not at all, says Dr. Jim. This is the first time the clinic has seen Buffy and all the test results can now be logged providing a baseline of data for future reference purposes.

11:50 In comes Chloe.

Chloe has been vomiting up her food and, consequently, has stopped eating. Jim is concerned that Chloe is overweight and that in the very hot weather of recent days (high 90s F./mid 30s C.) he has been seeing a number of dogs with excessive heat problems.

One thing that could be done to Chloe was to clip her excessively long toe nails.

Jim does that.

12:15 All done.

To be continued:

(Please note: These observations are mine alone and because of the busy environment it must be assumed that my interpretation of what was taking place might not be totally accurate. Nothing in this blog post should be used by a reader to make any medical judgment about an animal. If you have any concern about an animal do make an appointment to see a properly qualified veterinarian doctor.)

Visiting the Vet – Kenya’s itch.

Practical ways of treating Kenya’s itchy skin.

10:45 Next along was Kenya and his ‘Mum’.

The story was that after a raw patch had appeared on Kenya’s back it had then become very itchy for the brave dog.

Jim shaved the area clear of fur and cleaned the skin to aid a closer examination.

Jim then explained that the challenge in these sorts of cases is that it is very easy to throw a lot of money at the problem without any guarantee of success.  Not only were there cost considerations but also the question of whether to go down the route of injections or administer pills.

As an observer I was struck, but not surprised knowing Jim as a friend, to see how an open and honest assessment of the problem came way before any commercial implications.

Jim’s view was to leave it for the time being but he did recommend using a hypoallergenic shampoo. There were a number to choose from but Jim supported the shampoo manufactured by Bayer and sold under the brand name of Hylyt Shampoo.

There are a number of online sources for this shampoo. I chose, more or less at random, the one at Allvet Supply.

That website describes the shampoo, thus:

HyLyt Shampoo is a hypoallergenic dog shampoo and is perfect for routine use in bathing dogs and cats. The shampoo is safe for normal, dry or sensitive skin types and may be used in conjunction with topical therapeutics.

HyLyt shampoo contains a light fragrance that will leave your pets smelling clean and fresh. The gentle shampoo formula is ideal for bathing both dogs and cats. The soap-free formula is pH balanced and will not dry out delicate skin or fur.

In addition to the gentle formula, HyLyt shampoo also contains special emollients for moisturizing and proteins for conditioning. The hypoallergenic dog shampoo also contains fatty acids to reduce scaling and flaking of the skin. If your pet suffers from seasonal or acute dryness, HyLyt shampoo will help restore their skin and coat to optimal health and beauty.

Then it was time for a quick checkup underneath Kenya, so to speak, and that was it!

11:00 All done!

I am having trouble getting my head around the fact that I have only been watching proceedings for two-and-a-half hours! So much knowledge on show. So much experience. So much compassion for our beloved pets!

To be continued:

(Please note: These observations are mine alone and because of the busy environment it must be assumed that my interpretation of what was taking place might not be totally accurate. Nothing in this blog post should be used by a reader to make any medical judgment about an animal. If you have any concern about an animal do make an appointment to see a properly qualified veterinarian doctor.)

Visiting the Vet – Hunt the Foxtail

Yet another interesting case for Dr. Jim.

As soon as it was time to say ‘goodbye’ to Ace the cat then in came an entirely different case.

1020 – Back to dogs!

This was Millie, a pit mix, who had been dropped off at the Clinic earlier on. Millie’s owner said that there appeared to be something troubling Millie’s ears. Millie was, indeed, shaking her head a great deal.

Jim established that it was Millie’s left ear that was the source of the irritation. This was immediately obvious since Millie cried as soon as Jim touched that left ear.

The first examination didn’t identify anything that might be the cause. But apparently the endoscope had such a narrow field of view that it was easy to miss an irritant. Time for another, more extensive examination using that same endoscope.

This time the problem was identified. A foxtail that had penetrated Millie’s ear so deeply that the seed-head had pierced Millie’s eardrum.

Carefully, oh so carefully, Jim pulled the foxtail out from Millie’s ear. I couldn’t believe just how large it was.

About an inch (2.5 cm) long.

I was unable to grab a photograph of Millie’s face once the foxtail had been removed. Trust me it was a face full of doggie smiles.

But I can’t move on to the next patient without remarking how Millie was so beautifully behaved. How maligned the Pitbull and Pitbull Mixes are!

10:45 All done with Millie!

To be continued:

(Please note: These observations are mine alone and because of the busy environment it must be assumed that my interpretation of what was taking place might not be totally accurate. Nothing in this blog post should be used by a reader to make any medical judgment about an animal. If you have any concern about an animal do make an appointment to see a properly qualified veterinarian doctor.)

Visiting The Vet – Cats

The morning at Lincoln Road progresses.

(This is a continuation from here.)

It’s 09:00 and the next animals to be brought in to see Dr. Jim are a couple of cats requiring vaccination.

The kittens are named Grace and Frankie and both were adopted from the Nevada Humane Society although I wasn’t familiar with the circumstances surrounding that adoption.

But great to see them being cared for by the two women and the degree of professional service that I saw in Jim’s briefing of these new cat owners.

That care included giving one of the kittens the necessary pills by mouth.

It is now 09:25 and the next case for Jim is another cat. In this case a cat, named Ace, that the owner thinks is having trouble seeing out of it’s right eye.

Jim applies a fluorescent stain to the Ace’s eye that then enables Jim to use a special UV lamp to determine the degree of damage to the eye.

It is determined that the pressure in Ace’s eyeball is normal and Jim is pretty certain that Ace has no sight at all in that right eye. He recommends giving the cat some antibiotics and explains to the owner that cat’s can function perfectly adequately with just one eye. Indeed, if necessary the eyeball could be removed, something that would not be a disadvantage for Ace.

The lady owner of Ace takes note of Jim’s advice and is clearly grateful for what has been explained to her.

It is 10:10.

To be continued:

(Please note: These observations are mine alone and because of the busy environment it must be assumed that my interpretation of what was taking place might not be totally accurate. Nothing in this blog post should be used by a reader to make any medical judgment about an animal. If you have any concern about an animal do make an appointment to see a properly qualified veterinarian doctor.)

Visiting The Vet – Arrival

First impressions.

I arrived a little before 8:30 to find both receptionists busy on the telephone. They signaled for me to wait in the reception area until Dr. Jim came out to meet me.

As I waited it quickly became clear that Janice, one of persons behind the front desk, was speaking to someone who was having to make the decision to euthanize their dog. I hadn’t bargained for how that made me feel since it was so recently that Jean and I had trodden the same path. I had to give myself a stern reminder that I was here as the quiet, unobtrusive observer and that my own feelings had to be tucked out of sight.

Shortly thereafter, with Janice still on the telephone patiently and compassionately speaking with that dog’s owner,  someone came in with Daisy who was here for teeth cleaning. Jim came out to meet her and advise the owner that one of the team would be doing Daisy’s teeth not himself.

Then it was time for me to go back with Jim and start the day with him. (Jim had arrived at 8:20am.)

Jim’s first case was Ginger. Ginger, a female Golden Retriever, had been brought in earlier on because she had lost weight, was lethargic and was generally off-color.

Jim started to examine Ginger assisted by Cianna, a veterinary technician at the clinic.

It was immediately clear to Jim when he listened to Ginger’s heart that it was racing; Jim thought at something like 200 beats per minute. Jim continued to check Ginger over although, as he told me later, he had an idea that Ginger’s medical problem was a cardiac issue. Jim arranged for Ginger to be given an X-ray as well as blood work.

It would take a few minutes for the results of Ginger’s X-ray to come through so Jim showed me the primary software program used in the clinic to record all the details of each patient and all the individual medical details. The software was called AVImark.

I was impressed, very much so, but then again not surprised. For the veterinary business is big business in many countries. For instance, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that in 2016 there were 107,995 veterinarians in the USA. Of course, there would be a wide range of software tools for the industry.

Back to Ginger’s status.

Her X-ray having been taken, the digital image of her heart was transferred electronically to Dr. Jim’s computer. It showed an extremely enlarged heart. Jim said that the owners of Ginger would be facing a potentially complex analysis but in the interim Ginger should be put on one of the ‘pril’ drugs to reduce the very high stress on Ginger’s heart: Lisinopril; Enalapril; Benazepril. That was arranged then and there. (I didn’t make a note of which drug was given to Ginger.)

Time to call Ginger’s owners and report the findings.

The owners said that they would be in to collect Ginger at 12:30.

I looked at my watch. It was 8:58!

Already the next patient is ready to be seen by the good Doctor.

To be continued:

(Please note: These observations are mine alone and because of the busy environment it must be assumed that my interpretation of what was taking place might not be totally accurate. Nothing in this blog post should be used by a reader to make any medical judgment about an animal. If you have any concern about an animal do make an appointment to see a properly qualified veterinarian doctor.)

A new feature.

Opening up the world of a busy veterinary practice.

Like the majority of pet owners, our experiences of taking a cat or a dog to the local vet clinic are gained entirely in regard to those particular animals. The only small difference between this household and most others is that we have the distinct privilege of having Jim and Janet Goodbrod as close friends just a short distance away. Jim is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and thank goodness for that as it was more than wonderful that Jim was able to be on hand a week ago when it came to Pharaoh’s last few moments.

Jim is a regular DVM working at Lincoln Road Veterinary Practice in nearby Grants Pass. That practice is run by Dr. Russel Codd.

Dr. Russel Codd (RHS) speaking with Jean at the Clinic back in the days of our dear Hazel.

Some time ago, when we were visiting Lincoln Road, it struck me that the detail of what takes place ‘behind the counter’ of a busy vet clinic is most likely not commonly appreciated by those that visit said clinic.

I asked Russel one day if I might be allowed to spend time watching and listening to what goes on behind the scenes; so to speak. Russel said that he would be delighted for me to do that.

So it came to pass that last Thursday, June 22nd, I did just that.

It was a day when Dr. Jim worked a half-day at the clinic and I spent the thick end of six hours listening and observing what took place. I had a camera with me but as was only fit and proper was very sensitive to what photographs were taken. Likewise, I didn’t interrupt the proceedings with my questions although each pet owner had specifically said it was alright for me to be in the same room. In other words, what I will be writing in each post is much more my impressions of the workings of a day in the life of a veterinary clinic.

So tomorrow I will publish the first of my articles and at regular intervals report more from my day at Lincoln Road.

They will be published under the overall heading of Visiting The Vet.

I do hope you enjoy them.

What a nose!

Two items that recently caught my eye.

The power of a dog’s nose is incredible and it is something that has been written about in this place on more than one occasion.

But two recent news items reminded me once again of the way we humans can be helped by our wonderful canine partners.

The first was a report that appeared on the Care2 website about how dogs are being used to search for victims in the burnt out ruins following that terrible Grenfell Tower fire. That report opened, thus:

By: Laura Goldman June 24, 2017
About Laura Follow Laura at @lauragoldman

Wearing heat-proof booties to protect their feet, specially trained dogs have been dispatched in London’s Grenfell Tower to help locate victims and determine the cause of last week’s devastating fire that killed at least 79 people.

Because they’re smaller and weigh less than humans, urban search-and-rescue dogs with the London Fire Brigade (LFB) are able to access the more challenging areas of the charred 24-story building, especially the upper floors that sustained the most damage.

It then went on to include a photograph from the London Fire Brigade.

We’ve used specialist search dogs at #GrenfellTower. They’re lighter than humans and can cover a large area quickly.

The next item, apart from also being about the dog’s nose, couldn’t have been more different. It appeared on the Mother Nature Network site and is republished in full.

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Border collies join the search for Amelia Earhart

4 dogs skilled in finding long-buried bones are headed to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro.

Michael d’Estries    June 21, 2017.

Amelia Earhart standing under nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The high-tech search to find the remains of pilot Amelia Earhart and close the book on one of the aviation world’s greatest mysteries is going to the dogs.

According to National Geographic, four border collies — Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle — will embark on a voyage later this month to the uninhabited island of Nikumaroro (previously called Gardner Island) in the western Pacific Ocean. The remote triangular coral atoll, less than five miles long and two miles wide, is widely speculated as the location where Earhart and her co-pilot, Fred Noonan, performed an emergency landing during their ill-fated 1937 world flight.

While concrete evidence of the pair surviving as castaways on Nikumaroro has never been found, there have been some intriguing clues. These include a piece of scrap metal that likely came from Earhart’s Lockheed Electra 10E, a sextant box, and fragmented remains of U.S. beauty and skin care products that may date back to the 1930s.

The most intriguing find, however, happened in 1940 with the discovery of 13 bones under a tree on the island’s southeast corner. The remains were shipped to Fiji and subsequently misplaced, but measurements recorded before their loss and examined later by forensic anthropologists indicate that they may have belonged to “a tall white female of northern European ancestry.” With these findings were recently thrown into doubt, the only true way to know if the remains belong to Earhart or Noonan is to find the remaining bones.

The right nose for the job

The four dogs headed to Nikumaroro, officially known as Human Remains Detection Dogs, are part of the latest expedition organized by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery). Trained at the Institute for Canine Forensics (ICF), these specialized dogs are capable of sniffing out bones centuries old and buried as much as 9 feet deep.

“No other technology is more sophisticated than the dogs,” Fred Hiebert, archaeologist in residence at the National Geographic Society, which is sponsoring the canines, said in a statement. “They have a higher rate of success identifying things than ground-penetrating radar.”

According to the ICF, detection dogs are never trained to smell out live humans, focusing instead on old cases, small scent sources and residual scent. They also excel at locating remains without disturbing the burial site.

You can view one of the ICF dogs in action, seeking out the remains of ancient Native American burial sites, in the video below.

“This kind of searching requires the dog to be slow and methodical and keep its nose just above the surface of the ground, any fast moves and the dog can miss the grave,” the group explains. “It takes many years of slow and patient training to develop the skills needed to do this work.”

Once remains are detected, the dogs generally do little more than lie down on top of the potential burial site. Should Berkeley, Piper, Marcy and Kayle detect anything, TIGHAR’s archeologists will perform a careful excavation to uncover the source.

In addition to using canines, the team from TIGHAR will also take time over the eight-day expedition to survey sites on Nikumaroro using metal detectors and even an advanced underwater drone. Their greatest hope, however, lies with the highly advanced noses of the very good boys and girls sniffing out an 80-year-old mystery.

“If the dogs don’t find anything, we’ll have to think about what that means,” Hiebert added. “But if the dogs are successful, it will be the discovery of a lifetime.”

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What a sense of smell!

Thank goodness.