Tag: TreeHugger

Time marches on!

So we are now at the last day of July!

In many ways this has been a strange month in a somewhat strange year! No, more than that! We are at last seeing climate change come to the fore in terms of topics. Yves Smith, who produces Naked Capitalism (and it’s a great blog) had an item on climate change recently. Here’s an extract:

Yves here. As many of you know, I am considerably frustrated with Green New Deal advocates, because I see them as selling hopium. They act as if we can preserve modern lifestyles as long as we throw money, some elbow grease, and a lot of new development (using current dirty infrastructure to build it) at it. We’re already nearing the point where very bad outcomes, like widespread famines and mass migrations due to flooding, are baked in. And even that take charitably assumes that a rump of what we consider to be civilization survives.

There were many replies from a variety of people; I loved this one from Tom Stone:

A rational response to this crisis is not politically or societally feasible.

And the crisis is here, now.

The changes are not linear, a concept many of the people I talk to about climate change have difficulty accepting.

Large parts of the SF Bay Area are going to be heavily impacted (It’s my stomping ground, so I’m familiar with it) by salt water intrusion, levee failure, lack of water to to changing precipitation patterns in the Sierra’s…

A lot of Bay Area Housing is built on fill or in low lying areas, those homes will start to be abandoned within a decade if current trends continue.

Add the devastation from the inevitable Earthquake on the Hayward Fault which our local and State Governments are totally incapable of dealing with and it is going to be a godawful mess.

I looked at the Disaster planning for a quake on the Hayward Fault some years ago and all of the assumptions are for a “Best Case” scenario.

The quake won’t come in October during a drought and a high wind event, it won’t come at the wrong time of day, it won’t come in the spring during a high water period when Levee’s are stressed…

The Bay areas disaster response center was built in the 1950’s to withstand a nuclear attack, it is underground and was built smack dab in the middle of the Hayward Fault.

Have I mentioned that 20 years after 9/11 the various emergency responders do not have a commonality in their communications gear?

The more people that read this and other article the better.

Plus I am going to include my reply:

Your piece, Yves, that you published from Rolf was excellent and so was Tom Stone’s comment above. The scale of the issue is immense but at least climate change has now become a mainstream topic, and rightly so. National Geographic magazine published a special edition in May, 2020 to commemorate the anniversary of the fiftieth Earth Day. I think it was 1962 when Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. So we can’t complain that this isn’t a new issue. But whether or not we make it to the one hundred anniversary of that first Earth Day depends on the myriad of actions that we, as in all of us, including especially our leaders and politicians, make NOW! Let me spell it out. NOW means within the next 5 years at the latest. I am 76 and a passionate advocate of a change in mass behaviors. For I have a single grandson, Morten, living with his parents back in England who is 10. I fear for his future and for the future of all of his age.

Anyway, to get back to the article about dogs that I wanted to share with you. It is from Treehugger.

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This 13-Year-Old Dog Has a Home Again

It’s heartbreaking when senior pets lose their families.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published July 29th, 2021

Magdalen in her new yard. Mary Jo DiLonardo

This weekend, my husband and I were the last step in a transport to get a dog to her new home. 

Typically, when we have a new dog in the backseat, it’s a raucous foster puppy (or two) in a crate. There’s usually barking and tumbling and playing until the motion of the car lulls them to sleep.

But this passenger was a much different story.

Magdalen is a 13-year-old border collie. Her owner gave her up temporarily when he was sick, but when he fully recuperated a few months later, he said he didn’t want her back. He had her since she was a puppy but now had no place for her.

The family who had given her a temporary home had children and other dogs and was unable to give her a permanent home. When Speak St. Louis, the rescue I work with, was contacted about the border collie, they offered to take her in. 

She went to the groomer for her very matted coat and to the vet for a basic health check.

The spa visit made her look (and no doubt, feel) much better. But the vet didn’t have great news. She had to have surgery for mammary masses and her mouth was swollen with all sorts of dental issues. One surgery later and she had six masses removed. Two teeth fell out during cleaning and 11 more had to be extracted.

Fortunately, the growths were benign and she slowly began to recover. 

Stressed and Resigned

Magdalen barely moved on the ride to her new home. Mary Jo DiLonardo

On the trip home, the sweet senior looked so resigned in our backseat. The last kind transporter gently lifted her from her car and placed her in ours, where she barely moved as she re-settled herself.

She had just spent several weeks in the care of a wonderful foster parent where she recuperated from her surgery and from being left by her family. 

I’m sure at this point she was just shut down and stressed and quietly rolling with whatever happened to her. She took the pieces of kibble we offered but her tail didn’t wag because it was tucked mostly between her legs.

It was heartbreaking to know that not so long ago she was someone’s pet and she was discarded.

It’s understandable that her owner needed some temporary help when he was sick and overwhelmed. But I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t have wanted her back now. I think of my own dog and dogs we’ve lost to old age in the past. They’re family and they stay that way forever.

Dogs aren’t disposable.

Why People Give Up Senior Pets 

Senior pets often end up in shelters and with rescues when their owners die and no one in the family is able to take them in. 

Or some people give them up when they become harder to care for. Seniors can have more health problems and often people can’t afford the costs. They also aren’t as fun as their younger counterparts, and sometimes get cranky or snippy around children.

For rescues and shelters, it’s much easier to get a cute, bouncy puppy adopted than a less active senior that might come with health baggage and who might only be with the family for a few years.

A survey by PetFinder found that “less adoptable” pets like seniors or special needs animals spend nearly four times as long on the adoption site before they find a home.1

But older dogs have lots of benefits. Unlike puppies, they usually arrive housebroken. Sure, there are the occasional accidents as they figure things out, but they mostly know they are supposed to potty outside.

Senior dogs won’t chew your furniture or your fingers. They don’t bounce off the walls and wake you up in the middle of the night to go outside. They don’t need as much exercise as younger dogs but will revel in all the attention you want to give them.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

As for Magdalen, she is coming out of her shell in her new home. She was adopted by a good friend of mine who is a dog trainer. She has a soft heart for seniors and a passion for brainy border collies.

Because the pup is very driven by food, her new mom is going to try nosework with her. That’s an activity where she can sniff out treats in all sorts of hidden places. That will give her a job and a hobby—and lots of food!

Magdalen doesn’t have her tail between her legs anymore and the resident dogs are figuring out that she’s here to stay. But the key is for her to understand that this is now her forever home and no one will ever leave her again.

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Of the six dogs we have here at home three are old. But they still remain happy and carefree which is a little different to yours truly who, as much as he tries very hard not to do so, worries about the big things in life and, frankly, the biggest of them all is climate change.

Dogs are not disposable!

It’s even a difficult title to write for today’s story.

There are some despicable people for whom having a dog is not a loving companion nor a humane business interest. I can’t define them and, frankly, they are not even worth the mental effort required to think of a term.

That makes it all the more important to share this article with you.

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Dogs Are Not Disposable

Some people dump pets that are too old, not ‘perfect,’ or to go on vacation.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published June 11th, 2021.

Blind puppy Gertie weighs just over 2 pounds. Mary Jo DiLonardo

This may seem like a no-brainer, but with all the news from overwhelmed shelters and rescues this summer, it’s probably worth saying out loud.

Dogs are not disposable.

Disreputable breeders toss out puppies that aren’t “perfect.” Some people give up the family pet when they go on vacation so they don’t have to pay for boarding. Others give up an older puppy whose cute behaviors are now obnoxious or a senior dog who may have other health issues.

That little mouse you see at the top of the page is one of two special needs puppies I’m fostering right now. She’s actually a 2.1-pound puppy that we were told is an Aussiedoodle. I still think she might be an exotic guinea pig.

Gertie was dropped off by a breeder at a vet’s office to be euthanized because she was blind. The vet contacted a rescue instead.

I also have a deaf puppy that was given up by a breeder. Many other fosters are also doubling up because the need is so great right now. Probably the biggest reason is that it’s the summer and people are traveling for the first time again in more than a year. That means it’s hard to find adopters and it’s hard to find fosters. Everyone wants out of the house.

I’ve seen messages and social media posts from rescuer and shelter workers who say they feel helpless because the requests for help right now are so crushing.

“My rescue cannot keep up trying to save them,” one wrote.

“I’m sickened at the number of rescue and surrender requests we are getting and I am completely heartbroken,” wrote another.

“We need a lifeline,” said another rescuer.

There are some news stories that claim many pandemic puppies are being returned, but the numbers don’t back that up. Instead, it’s just a crush of other reasons, many involving summer travel.

I think the hardest thing for most loving pet owners to fathom is the idea that some people would drop off their dog at a shelter on their way out of town. There’s just anecdotal evidence and no statistics about how often it happens, but it’s cited very often from disheartened rescuers and shelter workers. 

The people who surrender their pets say they don’t want to pay for boarding and they’ll just get a new one when they return. Shelter workers say it’s heart-wrenching to hold a dog while they watch their person drive away. Some will stare out the door for hours, thinking for sure their family will return.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise us anymore which is really sad,” says Jen Schwarz, one of the directors of Speak! St. Louis, the special needs rescue I foster for. The rescuers hear the story often from shelter and humane society workers.

“They don’t want to pay for boarding or can’t find anybody to take their dog,” says Schwarz. “It’s basically being selfish.”

And people might think they’re doing their dog a favor by taking it to a shelter, hoping they’ll get adopted by someone else. But typically, if shelters have to euthanize for space, they’ll turn to owner-surrendered pets before strays because they know no one is looking for them.

“That’s the sad reality,” Schwarz says.

The other thing that happens often is people asking to have the family pet put to sleep because they’re too much hassle.

“That happens a lot. The kids are gone, they want to travel, the dog’s too much, and they have it euthanized,” Schwarz says. “That’s worse than dumping it at the shelter.”

Rescuers are saving as many as they can and that’s why I have one puppy sleeping behind me in my office and one napping in a playpen in the living room. Soon everyone will head outside for a game of tag where I’ll make sure everyone gets a chance to win.

And the only thing disposable here is an awful lot of very tiny puppy poo.

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When Jen Schwarz says: “That happens a lot. The kids are gone, they want to travel, the dog’s too much, and they have it euthanized,” I wonder what a lot is numerically. Anyone know?

The stories from the shelter workers breaks hearts here as well. Dogs are so intuitive; so smart. It is no surprise that they will stare for hours trying to work out what has happened.

The Old and the New

This caught my eye!

Humans are great inventors! Indeed, a better way to describe H. sapiens ever since we separated from the chimpanzees, some 5 or 6 million years ago, is to describe us as explorers both outwards and inwards constantly in search for new worlds and new insights into meaning.

Thus this naturally caught me eye as Doug Thron uses a modern device, a drone, to search for animals in distress, a very ancient behaviour!

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Drone Pilot Rescues Animals After Natural Disasters

Doug Thron goes to devastated areas to save pets and wildlife.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Published June 9, 2021.

Doug Thron with Duke, a dog he rescued after California wildfires.”Doug to the Rescue”

For nearly three decades, seaplane and drone pilot Doug Thron has been a professional photographer and cinematographer, primarily for nature shows and magazines. A few years ago he was using his drone to film the devastation left behind after wildfires in California when he teamed up with rescuers to help find lost pets and reunite them with their owners.

A long-time animal lover and environmentalist, Thron realized he could combine those passions, using his aerial skills. He now travels wherever there is need, using his drone to help communities dealing with the destruction after natural disasters.

Thron is featured in a six-part documentary series “Doug to the Rescue”streaming on CuriosityStream beginning June 10.

He talked to Treehugger about his first animal rescues, his drones, and some of the challenges he’s faced.

Treehugger: Which came first: the animal rescue work or the drone?

Dough Thron: I was using drones for filming for TV shows, commercials, and real estate clients before doing the animal rescue work. 

Were you involved in animal rescue and realized that your drone work could come in handy? 

Definitely. I was doing animal rescue work after the wildfires in Paradise, California. I was working with an expert cat rescuer named Shannon Jay, and I saw him using an infrared scope at night to help find the cats. We talked about how incredible it would be to put one on a drone and when the opportunity came up about 10 months later in the Bahamas after the category 5 Hurricane Dorian, that’s what I did and it worked incredibly.

I had raised orphaned baby animals as a kid and worked with animals such as possums, raccoons, squirrels, beavers, and even mountain lions. I’ve been using drones since 2013 for cinematography, so I’ve used them for quite a while before I got involved in the actual rescuing of animals with drones.

Duke in the Bahamas.Doug Thron / “Doug to the Rescue”

What was your first big rescue using a drone?

My first big rescue using a drone was in the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian. I was there helping to deliver aid and film the destruction when I spotted a dog roaming around the mountains of debris. He obviously hadn’t had any water or much food for days. He was really apprehensive at first, but warmed up over the course of the day, as I just sat with him. Dog food and water helped! The next day, some animal rescuers came with me to get him. He’s such an incredible dog, and meant so much to me, so I adopted him and named him Duke after a sign I’d seen where I found him.

Where are some of the places you’ve gone to help stranded animals? 

The Bahamas, Australia, Oregon, California, and Louisiana.

Thron with a rescued koala.”Doug to the Rescue”

What were some of the most challenging circumstances?

In Australia, it was challenging because the hurt koalas were deep in burnt out forests, often with a dense canopy. It was so hot out you had to fly strictly at night with spotlights and infrared and fly the drone pretty far and often drop it down through the trees to see the animals, which takes a lot of skill. Koalas are also very aggressive and strong, and not always thrilled when you go to grab them out of a tree to rescue them. On almost all these rescues, Australia and everywhere else, it’s countless long hours of work—generally about 20 hours a day—which can certainly wear you down day after day.

What is it like when you spot an animal in an area of devastation where there is no other sign of life? 

It’s great to be able to rescue these animals so much more efficiently and faster and, in many cases, find animals that never would have been found.  It’s different everywhere I go—finding animals when there aren’t any others alive nearby is always really hard. But in places like Louisiana, where I was searching in so many neighborhoods, it gives you a feeling of hope when you find a cat or dog, knowing it was someone’s pet. 

In other places, like Australia, I’d be covering dozens of miles a night, sometimes and only finding an occasional animal. It’s really sad because you realize how many thousands of animals didn’t make it. It’s also really hard to see how fires and other natural disasters as a result of climate change are taking out the last patches of unentered habitat and endangered animals.

A dog rescued in Louisiana.”Doug to the Rescue”

How heart-wrenching can it be?

It can be really heart-wrenching to find animals that are severely wounded, but it’s wonderful to be able to save them. 

How euphoric is it when you make a great save?

It’s awesome to be able to save people’s cats and dogs because frequently, that might be the only thing they have left after a fire or hurricane. Obviously, for the animal’s sake, it’s so incredible because without the infrared drone, in many cases, the animal would have never been found and would have died, sometimes a slow and painful death.

Thron with his drone.”Doug to the Rescue”

What is your drone like?

The Matrice 210 V2 are the drones I use with an infrared camera, spotlight, and 180x zoom lens. The combination of using those three attachments for animal rescue has never been done before.

How much time do you spend doing animal rescue work? What else do you do?

The rescue work is pretty continuous for 9 to 10 months during the fire and hurricane seasons. After that, there are occasional lost pets to be found.

What else do you want to accomplish?

I hope to make using infrared drones for animal rescue as popular as helicopters are for rescuing people after a natural disaster. So many more animals can be saved when you can find them so much faster and find ones that never would have been found on foot because there is just too much area to cover.

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This account makes me want to choke up. Doug is clearly used to being a professional photographer and, also, works with others in the field of animal rescue. But this story is about Doug and he is engaged with animal rescue with his heart as well as his head!

Doug has been reported widely I am delighted to say and there’s a YouTube video that you can watch.

It doesn’t get any better than that!

Eye to eye!

Making eye contact with one’s dog.

Of all the wonderful dogs we have at home Oliver is the one who has perfected his eye contact. Oliver holds one’s eyes forever and they are full of love.

As this photograph, taken in May, 2020, shows.

But there’s more to this than meets the eye (pardon the pun) as this article recently presented by Treehugger reveals.

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Want Eye Contact With Your Dog? These 4 Factors Play a Role

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Mary Jo DiLonardo

May 12th, 2021

Head shape and playfulness can play a part, study finds.

Short-nosed dogs are more likely to make eye contact, study finds. LWA/Dann Tardif / Getty Images

How much time does your dog spend looking into your eyes? It could depend on the shape of their head, among other factors.

Making eye contact is an important part of human relationships and it can be key in person-canine bonding too. But all dogs aren’t equal when it comes to eye gazing, finds a new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports.1

“Eye contact is an important non-verbal signal in humans. We use it in conversations to show that we are paying attention to each other,” study first author Zsófia Bognár, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Ethology at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary, tells Treehugger. “Also, the oxytocin levels in both parties rise, which plays a role in the development of social bonding.”

This social connection is easily observed when a bond is formed between a mother and a baby, she points out.

But eye contact is not so important for dog relationships. They don’t look into each other’s eyes very often, and when they do, it’s antagonistic and challenging behavior.1

“Dogs tend to make eye contact with humans, and research found that oxytocin levels also rose in both parties when owners and dogs formed eye contact,” Bognár says. “It is also known that dogs do not behave the same, differences can be found between them.” 

Earlier studies found that shorter-headed dogs were more successful at following pointing gestures from humans and watched pictures of faces for longer periods of time.21

Snub-nosed dogs have a more pronounced area in the retina of the eye responsible for central vision, so they can better respond to things happening right in front of them.1 Longer-nosed dogs have a more panoramic vision, so they’re more easily distracted by things going on all around them.1

The researchers decided to see how head shape and other factors also influenced eye contact.

Why Head Shape Matters

Researchers worked with 130 family dogs for the study. First, they measured the length and width of their heads to determine what’s called the cephalic index—the ratio of the maximum length and width of the head.

  • Short-headed or brachycephalic dog breeds include boxers, bulldogs, and pugs. 
  • Long-headed or dolichocephalic dog breeds include greyhounds, Great Danes, and German shepherds.
  • Medium-headed or mesocephalic dog breeds include Labrador retrievers, Cocker spaniels, and border collies.

Then, on to the testing.

First, the experimenter would call the dog’s name and reward the dog with a treat. Then the experimenter would stay silent and motionless, waiting for the dog to establish eye contact. They then rewarded the dog with a treat each time eye contact was made.

The experiment ended after five minutes or after 15 episodes of eye contact were made. During this test, the dog’s owner remained in the room (silent, motionless, and not looking at the dog) so the dog wouldn’t be stressed due to separation.

They measured how many times the dog made eye contact as well as how much time elapsed between eating the treat and the next time the dog made eye contact. The team found that the shorter the dog’s nose, the more quickly it made eye contact with the researcher.1

“We assumed that due to this, snub-nosed dogs could focus their attention better to their communication partner because other visual stimuli coming from the periphery could disturb them less,” Bognár says.

But there’s also the chance that pugs, bulldogs, and other similar dogs just get more of a chance to interact with people because of the baby-like way they look.1

“We couldn’t exclude the possibility that these dogs have more opportunity to learn to engage with humans and make eye contact with them,” Bognár says. “Because humans have a preference for ‘baby schema’ features, and the characteristics of snub-nosed dogs’ heads are in accordance with these features, thus the owners of these dogs may pay more attention towards them and are more likely to engage in mutual gaze with their animals.”

Age, Playfulness, and Breed Characteristics 

But the head shape wasn’t the only factor that came into play. Researchers found that a dog’s age, playfulness, and general cooperative nature due to breed characteristics all played a role in how much eye contact they made with the experimenter.1

They found dogs that were originally bred to take visual cues made more eye contact. For example, herding dogs who follow directions from the owner to work livestock, are “visually cooperative” breeds that are more likely to make eye contact. Sled dogs that run in front of a musher or dachshunds that are bred to chase prey underground are “visually non-cooperative” breeds that rely on vocal cues and don’t have to see their owners.1

Interestingly, dogs that were mixed breeds performed just as well as cooperative breeds. About 70% of the mixed breed dogs in the study were adopted from a shelter. Maybe their eagerness to make eye contact helped get them adopted in the first place, the researchers suggest.1

The researchers also found that older dogs made less eye contact. They had a harder time controlling their attention and were slower switching from the treat to the experimenter.1

A dog’s playfulness was another factor that impacted eye contact. To measure a dog’s playfulness, the off-leash dog was in a room with the owner. The experimenter walked in with a ball and a rope and offered them to the dog. If the dog chose one, they played with the toy for a minute. If the dog didn’t choose a toy, the experimenter tried to initiate a social interaction.

A dog was given a high playfulness score if it played enthusiastically with the experimenter, brought the ball back at least once, or tugged on the rope. It was given a low playfulness score if it didn’t touch the toys, ran after the ball but didn’t bring it back, or took the rope but didn’t tug on it. Researchers found that dogs with high playfulness were quicker to establish eye contact than dogs with low playfulness.1

The research uncovers a key understanding of what impacts dog-person eye contact, which can affect canine-human communication.

“Eye contact can help dogs to decide whether the message/command what the human says/shows are directed to them. They are more likely to execute a command if the human looks at them than shows its back or looks at another human/dog,” Bognár says.

“Dogs also use their gaze to communicate with humans, for example, gaze alternation can be a way to direct humans’ attention to different objects like an unreachable piece of food or a ball,” adds Bognár. “And it can also play a role in social bonding through oxytocin hormone.”

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Interesting! No, it is more than that. It is science at work.

Zsófia Bognár, the study’s first author, makes the point that: “Eye contact is an important non-verbal signal in humans. We use it in conversations to show that we are paying attention to each other. Also, the oxytocin levels in both parties rise, which plays a role in the development of social bonding.

So returning to our dear Oliver we can see that the levels of oxytocin rise in Oliver and in Jean or me depending on who Oliver has engaged with.

Speaking of Oxytocin let’s go across to an article in Psychology Today that explains a little more about this important hormone.

Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It plays an important role in reproduction, initiating contractions before birth as well as milk release. And it is thought to be involved in broader social cognition and behavior, potentially ranging from mother-infant bonding and romantic connection to group-related attitudes and prejudice. The hormone is produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland.

Why Is Oxytocin Called the “Love Hormone?”

Oxytocin has been called “the cuddle hormone” or “the love hormone” due to its association with pair bonding. It appears to help reinforce the early attachment between mothers and their infants, as well as the bonds between romantic partners. Animal research has connected oxytocin (along with another hormone, vasopressin) with the lifelong pair-bonding of prairie voles, and scientists have reported increases in oxytocin levels following orgasm in humans. There is also evidence that increases in oxytocin may encourage prosocial behavior, though not all studies have found these positive results, and some experts have undercut the idea that the hormone is a “trust molecule.”

There! Now we know!





No end to the insights into our dogs!

Some dogs are always jealous

The fact that some dogs get jealous from time to time is nothing new. Our own Cleo, a female GSD, is especially jealous of some of our other dogs.

Cleo as a puppy

But researchers have found dogs exhibit three human-like signatures of jealous behaviour and I want to share the details with you.

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Your Dog Gets Jealous Just Imagining You With Another Canine, Study Finds

By Mary Jo DiLonardo, April 13th, 2021

Dog owners recognize jealousy when they see it. Edoma / Getty Images

To the surprise of no dog owner anywhere, a new study finds that dogs get jealous.

You may know the feeling when you’re out on a walk and stop to pet another pooch. Your dog may bark or whine, or even come in between you and the offending canine.

New research published in the journal Psychological Science finds that dogs exhibit these types of jealous behaviors even when they only imagine their owner is interacting with another dog.1 In the case of this study, the perceived rival was an artificial dog.

In the past, some scientists have insisted jealousy is strictly a human trait and people are merely projecting emotions on their pets.1

“​I think it is natural for dog owners to project a range of human thoughts and emotions onto their pets,” lead author Amalia Bastos, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, tells Treehugger.

Bastos cites a study published in 2008 in the journal Cognition and Emotion where 81% of dog owners said their pets get jealous. But as much as pet owners love their animals, they are sometimes wrong about them, she says.2

That same study found that 74% of dog owners reported their pets feel guilty after misbehaving.2 But several studies have found that what people see as a “guilty look” is merely dogs responding to getting in trouble from their owners, whether they actually misbehaved or not.3,4

“Anecdotes from dog owners are interesting and can inspire fascinating research into dog intelligence and behavior, but it is important that this is taken only as a starting point for rigorous science before we can make such claims,” Bastos says.

She adds: “Work on dog jealousy to date is more promising than for guilt: our study shows that dogs exhibit three signatures of human jealous behavior. However, we caution that the fact that dogs display jealous behavior does not necessarily mean that they experience jealousy as we do.”

For the study, researchers set up an experiment where 18 dogs imagined their owners interacting with either a realistic-looking stuffed dog or a similarly sized fleece-covered cylinder that looked nothing like a dog. The fake dog played the role of a potential rival while the cylinder was a control.1

First, the dogs watched the stuffed dog next to their owner. Then, a barrier was placed between the dog and the stuffed animal so they could no longer see the potential rival. The dogs pulled strongly on their leashes when their owners appeared to be petting the fake dog behind the barrier. In a second experiment, the dogs pulled on the leashes with less force when the owners appeared to be petting the fleece cylinder.1

“We developed a novel methodology whereby we could directly measure the amount of force a dog used to pull on its lead,” Bastos explains. “This provided the first easily quantifiable, objective measure of how strongly dogs attempt to approach a jealousy-inducing interaction between their owner and a social rival.”

This is called the “approach response” as the dog tries to get closer to the owner and the potential rival. It’s also how babies and kids respond when they are jealous, Bastos says.

“The approach response is a straight-forward and clean measure which happens to be the single most universal reaction to jealousy-inducing situations in human infants and children,” she says. “Although infants and children show a range of behaviors when observing their mothers interact with another infant — including but not limited to attacking the rival, crying, seeking physical contact with the mother, throwing a tantrum, or screaming — almost all react primarily by approaching the jealousy-inducing interaction.”

Researchers were able to measure the actual strength of the approach response rather than relying on inconsistent behaviors like barking, whining, growling, or attempting to bite, which would vary among dogs.1

The Canine Subjects Showcased Jealousy Signatures 

The researchers found the dogs exhibited three human-like signatures of jealous behavior.1

These findings were different from earlier research because it’s the first to show dogs can mentally represent — or imagine — social interactions that they can’t directly see, Bastos says.

“We know this because when their owners appeared to pet a fake dog the dogs could not see behind an opaque barrier, they reacted with an approach response, which is a common jealous behaviour in humans. This suggests that dogs could mentally simulate what their owners must have been doing out of their direct line of sight,” she says.

It also showed that, like humans, dogs reacted more strongly when their owners interacted with a potential rival than with an inanimate object. And the reactions happened due to the interaction, and not when the owner and the rival were in the same room but not interacting.1

“Previous studies confounded jealous behavior with play, interest, or aggression because they never tested dogs’ reactions to the owner and the social rival being present in the same room but not interacting,” Bastos says.

“In our control condition, where owners petted a fleece cylinder, the fake dog was still present nearby,” she adds. “Dogs did not try to approach it as they did when they were being petted by the owner, showing that the interaction itself triggered their approach response, and therefore this is caused by jealous behaviour.”

Although this research is the first step, more research is necessary to figure out if dogs experience jealousy the same way people do.1

“There is still much work to be done to establish what dogs subjectively experience while exhibiting jealous behaviours, and this is a very difficult question to answer scientifically,” Bastos says. “We may never have an answer!”

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The researchers went to some lengths to show that the dogs were able to detect real interaction with another dog rather than a fake dog. The video is very interesting and I hope you are able to watch it.

The range of human attitudes to dogs.

What a strange species we are!

Two days ago, just 3 miles down the road, someone reported seeing two dogs dumped in a yard and the culprit driving off at high speed. It was on the corner of Hugo Rd and Barker Rd, and Barker I know well because when I ride my bike I do an extra mile along Barker. (And we live on Hugo Rd.)

Then there’s the attitude adopted by the person who took puppies to a shelter. “… the breeder told her the coyotes can always use a meal.” As seen on the website Treehugger. Have a read.

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Rescued Blind and Deaf Puppies Are Incredibly Joyful

Breeder had threatened to feed them to coyotes.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo Updated April 9th, 2021

Mary Jo DiLonardo

Trudy is fearless when she runs. Fred Strobel Photography

As I write this, it sounds like there are hyenas battling it out in my basement. Yelps and screams and torturous cries are storming up the stairs along with a few barks and high-pitched squeals.

It’s just another day in fostering some rambunctious blind and deaf puppies who happen to play very, very loudly.

Trudy and Zane are 9-week-old Australian shepherd mixes, maybe Aussiedoodles. They were dropped off at a rural shelter somewhere in Illinois by a breeder. When the beleaguered shelter worker asked what would happen to the puppies if she couldn’t take them, the breeder told her the coyotes can always use a meal. She couldn’t believe it.

The shelter, of course, took them. And Speak! St. Louis, the rescue I volunteer with, of course, stepped up. And somehow the puppies ended up here in Atlanta, playing “WWF Smackdown” in my basement.

Trudy and Zane are double merles like the Treehugger puppies. Merle is a swirly pattern in a dog’s coat that is very lovely and highly prized by breeders and people who want a pretty dog. When two dogs with the merle gene are bred together, there’s a 25% chance that their puppies will be blind, deaf, or both.

Sometimes this happens by accident, but it seems that it happens too often on purpose. In any case, there sure are plenty of puppies that end up needing homes. At least those are the ones that rescue groups hear about. Others just quietly disappear.

I’m pretty sure that Zane and Trudy weren’t handled much by their owner when they got here. They were awfully squirmy and bitey and didn’t want to be held or touched. They wouldn’t eat unless they were touching each other.

So I’ve been working on it. Hold one for a few seconds and put them down before they fidget. Pet them all over a little at a time. Feed them just a little farther apart at each meal.

In just a couple of weeks, they’ve learned that people are pretty cool.

Navigating the World

Zane in a quiet moment.Fred Strobel Photography

I’ve fostered a blind puppy, several deaf puppies, and two blind and deaf puppies including the famous Whibble Magoo, who is now competing in agility contests and is smarter than most people I know.

It’s just amazing to watch how they navigate the world. They quickly map out their area, learning where the walls, bushes, and furniture are. Sure, they bounce off a few things at first but puppy heads are pretty hard. They do a little bit of a cartoon-like head shake where the world, no doubt, spins a little bit inside their heads. Then they jump up and go back to exploring and running and being happy. 

And, boy, are they happy.

People often say they feel sorry when they see blind or deaf puppies. They talk about how awful it must be for them.

But this is the only life they know and they are so joyful! When they go outside, they bounce in the grass like it is the best, most wonderful place in the world. When they play with a toy, it’s the coolest toy ever. When they find my dog, their tails wag so hard because they are ecstatic to be around him.

And when they find a person, they are elated because people are amazing, fun, and they give snuggles and treats.

They’ve come a long way from being just a step away from coyote dinner. Now they’ve learned to sit with two taps on their bottom and they are learning “down” is a tap on the front foot.

They are getting ready to look for their forever homes where their new people will appreciate that they aren’t just deaf and blind puppies. Instead, they are brilliant, silly, playful, gorgeous puppies with wonderful loving, sweet personalities. 

They just happen to play and live with the volume turned up loud.

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Regarding that dog dump in Barker Road, I managed to find out which house it was and later on in the day went for a bike ride that took me that way. There was no sign of anything unusual.

But to get to the matter of today’s post that is all about puppies that are blind or deaf. As I am sure you are aware, dogs are very different to us humans when it comes to their senses. I have written before about the great power of their sense of smell. This is many ways is their leading sense and I have no doubt that in the case of dogs that are blind or deaf their smell allows them to function pretty well.

There are many, many good people in the world. Some are outstanding. But I regret that there are quite a few low lights. Shame but there it is.

Puppies

An insight into the bringing up of young dogs out in Patagonia.

I subscribe to Treehugger. It is an online service that features Sustainability for All.

A few days ago it had an article that I just had to share with you all. It is how puppy dogs will grown up to protect pumas.

Here it is:

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Puppies in Patagonia Will Grow Up To Protect Pumas

By 

Published January 25th, 2021

Their main job is to guard livestock, but wildlife benefits too.

The puppies will grow up alongside the livestock they will one day protect. WCS Argentina

A new litter of livestock dogs was just delivered by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Argentina. Currently cuddly and very cute, the puppies will be specially trained to protect goats and sheep from predators. Not only will this help save the livestock, but these dogs will help limit conflicts between herders and the pumas and other native carnivores living around them in the Patagonian Desert.

The puppies are a mix of Great Pyrenees and Anatolian shepherd — large, working breeds trained to guard livestock. In the early weeks of the project, the puppies bond with the livestock to form protective relationships. WCS representatives work closely with herders to provide care and training for the puppies and the livestock during what’s known as this key “imprinting” period.

“During the first eight weeks of life, puppies will create a very strong bond, first with their mother and then with their social group. During the first 40 days, puppies remain with their mother, but livestock is kept in the same pen or corral with the dogs so they can smell them, see them, and progressively make physical contact with livestock,” Martín Funes, project manager of WCS Argentina, tells Treehugger.

“Progressively, during three months the bond between puppies and livestock will get stronger, and dogs will start to show a protective behavior. After this period they will recognize a certain species (we work with sheep and goats) as their social group, and that will remain for the rest of its life.”

For many years, WCS Argentina has been working with area herders to come up with new ways to stop conflicts with area predators. In the past, herders have resorted to shooting, poisoning, or trapping wildlife that have threatened their flocks.

WCS Argentina places the puppies with herders based on their location, the amount of conflict they’re having with carnivores, and their willingness to participate in the program, which includes proper care of the dogs through adulthood.

The dogs become a very powerful tool, says Funes.

“Livestock guarding dogs (LGD) stay with livestock 24/7, which is impossible for the other methods [of predator control]. They behave as part of the flock, and they will protect it against any threat,” he says.
“They tend to be very protective but they don’t have the hunting instinct of wolves or some other dog breeds (i.e., greyhounds or lebrels). However we should always consider a basic principle for reducing livestock losses by carnivores: The more methods you use, the safer your livestock will be. Combining different strategies is always an efficient approach to reduce attacks by carnivores.”

The dogs are raised alongside the sheep and goats. WCS Argentina

In the Patagonian Desert, also known as the Patagonia Steppe, livestock face threats from several wild cats including pumas, Geoffroy’s cat, pampas cat, and the threatened Andean cats. Other predators include Patagonian foxes and Andean condors.

“Even though we have been hunting, trapping, and killing carnivores, it has never been effective in reducing our losses,” said Flavio Castillo, a herder participating in the program, in a statement. “It is our hope that [the dogs] will be a very useful tool to stop predation. With the dogs, we can co-exist with carnivores and protect our production. Wildlife belongs here and we have to protect and co-exist with it.”

In addition to saving the lives of the flocks and their predators, the presence of the guardian dogs also can have a positive impact on habitat restoration.

“As attacks from carnivores diminish, producers tend to stop trapping, hunting and poisoning of wild animals, which is an outstanding benefit for the entire ecosystem,” says Funes.
“A secondary benefit, as producers perceive a reduction in annual livestock losses, is that herders might adjust livestock stocking rates density and improve soil and vegetation conditions and its performance, reducing overgrazing and desertification, a major and widespread environmental problem in arid Patagonia for the last two centuries.”

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This is a powerful story of the many ways that dogs may be used to help humans.

Dogs are by far the longest domesticated animal that has bonded to humans and I’m trying to receive permission to republish a wonderful article that John Zande sent me to read. It is about the Neanderthals and homo sapiens and the relationship with dogs.

Science explains why dogs are so loyal.

A fascinating article!

I had a particularly uncomfortable 24 hours Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning.

I went to upload an update to my iMac early on Monday afternoon but for some reason it all went wrong. As in the iMac became unresponsive and continuously showed the Apple icon for about 10 minutes and then went blank for another 10 minutes, and went on repeating itself.

On Tuesday morning I spent several hours on the phone to Apple support and finally the third adviser told me to turn everything off and do a cold reset. That fixed it and I didn’t have to go down to Medford and leave the machine with Connecting Point Computers. Plus I saved $99!

So I am very grateful to be able to share this post with you all! It’s an article on Treehugger, Why Are Dogs So Loyal?

Enjoy!

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Why Are Dogs So Loyal?

There’s a scientific explanation to what makes them “man’s best friend”

By   Katherine Gallagher
Updated December 09, 2020

Daniel Grill / Getty Images

Any dog owner will tell you that there’s something indescribable and unique about their loyal companions. Dogs wait for their humans patiently by the door when they leave, act like they’ve been given the world when their dinner bowls are filled, and express a sense of devotion that is rare in many other pets. Where does this trait, the trait that makes dogs “man’s best friend,” come from? Why are dogs so innately loyal? The obvious explanation would be that their owners provide them with food and shelter, but the deeper answer actually comes down to science.

It’s no secret that domesticated dogs are descendants of wolves. Even today, modern dogs continue to share similar genes to wolves that live in the wild. The idea of “the loyal dog” is both a cultural and biological construct, as humans have created the dog over years of selective breeding and domestication to be this way. Essentially, humans picked and chose the wolf characteristics that would best serve their own benefit, transforming a wolf’s hierarchical structure and social bond to their packs into obedience and loyalty to humans.

Selective Breeding

Throughout history, long-term domestication has resulted in hundreds of different dog breeds designed to fulfil specialized functions in society, many with significant behavioral differences. Early humans likely participated in selective breeding without even knowing they were doing so, by killing off the dogs who attacked or bit a member of their family or community. Additionally, dogs who were naturally gifted as loyal hunters would have been better cared for, upping the chances of successful and repeated reproduction. Dogs that contributed to society were kept for longer, while aggressive or unskilled dogs weren’t. And, as humans promoted dogs with tame or friendly characteristics, physical attributes began to change as well.

The early domesticated dogs intelligent enough to associate their owners with things like food and shelter in exchange for obedience (think: “don’t bite the hand that feeds you”) were more likely to survive longer. In a reliance comparison between dogs and cats, for example, studies show that dogs attempt tasks before looking at their owners while cats do not.

While it may have started with a simple exchange of food and shelter for animal-assisted guarding or hunting, humans eventually began to favor dogs that were more docile and sociable. As humans evolved to hunt less and moved on to more secure lifestyles, the domestication process eventually began to encourage companionship.

Pack Behavior

Dogs, like their wolf ancestors, are pack animals at their core. In order to survive in the wild, members of a pack have to be trusting and cooperative. A wolf leader, or alpha, is in charge until it becomes too sick or old to perform at its highest abilities and is eventually challenged by a stronger wolf for the betterment of the entire pack. This suggests that wolves are motivated by the good of the group rather than pure loyalty to its leader. This is exactly what a 2014 study in Vienna found when researchers examined lab-raised dog and wolf packs, concluding that the relationship between dogs and humans is hierarchical (with their owner at the top) rather than cooperative. As wolves were slowly domesticated into modern dogs, the study suggests, they were bred for their loyalty, dependance on human masters, and ability to follow orders.

Social Bonding

Oxytocin, the peptide hormone released when people hug, snuggle, or bond socially, also has a part to play. Gaze-mediated bonding, as well as petting and talking, increases oxytocin levels in both humans and dogs. This is a human-like mode of communication, since wolves rarely make eye contact with their handlers, meaning that the fact that you and your dog like to lock eyes is a trait likely picked up during the domestication process. Oxytocin is linked to feelings of attachment and confidence, which in turn facilitate the establishment of loyalty and love in emotional relationships. The fact that oxytocin increases in both humans and dogs — but not wolves — while engaging in eye contact and communicating social attachments may have supported the evolution of human-dog bonding.

Are Some Breeds More Loyal Than Others?
The domestic dog, or Canis lupus familiaris, is the first and only large carnivore ever to have been domesticated by humans. Mostly within the last 200 years or so, dogs have undergone a rapid change characterized by maintaining breeds through selective breeding imposed by humans. Compared to other wild and domestic species, modern dogs display incomparable genetic diversity between breeds, from a 1-pound poodle to a 200-pound mastiff.

We’ve all heard stories of individual dogs known for fierce loyalty, like Hachiko, the Japanese Akita who waited for his master every day by the Shibuya Station in Tokyo even after he passed away at work. A 2018 study on the genomic make-up of the Czechoslovakian wolfdog found that a common German shepherd crossed with a wild wolf has the same tameness and loyalty to its master as a fully domesticated dog.

There isn’t much scientific evidence of certain breeds being more loyal than others, though one could certainly argue that dogs bred for specific jobs like hunting and herding would have a higher chance of staying loyal to their owners. Breeds that are known for specific tasks may not check all the boxes depending on qualities preferred by the owner. The dependency on human guidance desired in companion dogs may get in the way of a rescue dog’s ability to function successfully in situations when its handler isn’t around, for example. There is a “nature vs. nurture” aspect to consider as well. It isn’t all about genes, though they do play a critical role, but a dog’s individual environment and history can also greatly affect its lifetime behavior.

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There, the science behind a dog’s loyalty.

Despite having spent a number of years writing and learning about dogs there were still a few points mentioned in this essay that were news to me.

As they say, one is never too old to learn!

What a brilliant idea!

This is a wonderful, innovative way to look after dogs.

It’s not that often that something comes along that is wonderfully refreshing, both as an idea and in practice. I am speaking of a way of housing shelter dogs.

It’s the work of Austin Pets Alive and I’m not surprised in the slightest to read from their website:

Austin Pets Alive! is not your average animal shelter. We pioneer innovative lifesaving programs designed to save the animals most at risk of euthanasia.

They are in Texas.

But back to the article which appeared on the Treehugger website.

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This Rescue is Building Tiny Homes for Shelter Dogs

They offer a calm alternative to the chaos of shelter life.

By Mary Jo DiLonardo, October 1st, 2020

The shelter is building two tiny homes for rescue dogs.
Austin Pets Alive!

The shelter environment can be incredibly overwhelming for any dog. There are strange sights, smells, and sounds, and the presence of unfamiliar animals and people can be constantly changing. Some pets adapt more quickly than others, while some struggle with the frenetic surroundings.

One animal shelter in Texas is building tiny houses as a solution for those anxious dogs that need a calmer place to stay. The non-profit rescue is creating two small cabins on their shelter grounds complete with heating and air conditioning, dog-friendly furniture, and their own private yards. The cabins will also provide workspaces for staff and volunteers.

The tiny homes should be ready for their first guests later this month.

“The idea is to provide more of a home-like environment for the unique population of dogs Austin Pets Alive! cares for as the safety net for shelter animals who need us most — a place for decompression, training, and quality-of-life purposes,” Director of Operations Stephanie Bilbro tells Treehugger. “It seemed like the best opportunity for the investment, and also has the benefit of being a project that can be repeated as many times as we want!”

Having tiny homes for some of the shelter’s canine residents was a long-time dream of the rescue’s executive director, veterinarian Ellen Jefferson. The rescue put together a committee of staff and volunteers in 2019 to assess the facility and see what improvement could be made.

They decided to build the tiny homes “as a way to provide a better quality of life for some of our longest-stay or most behaviorally challenged dogs”, Bilbro says.

The cabins will house one dog at a time and they will remain there for the rest of their stay until they find a foster or adoptive home. The cabins will primarily be used for dogs who are overstimulated by the standard kennel environment.

Some dogs are scared and overwhelmed by the shelter environment. Austin Pets Alive!

“Overstimulation can lead not only to higher stress in the animal, but can actually be dangerous for a handler, or other animals, if you have a dog who expresses stress by showing impulsive or aggressive behaviors,” Bilbro says.

“Overstimulation is also a big barrier to successful training or behavior modification, so it can be difficult to make progress with dogs like this in a kennel or shelter environment. The cabins will ideally provide a quiet and low-stimulation place for the dogs to decompress and relax in a way that will help our staff and volunteers get through to them easier.”

The rescue is relying on donations to keep saving lives and trying out innovations like these, Bilbro says. When the pandemic first started, the rescue increased its intakes so smaller and more rural shelters that were temporarily closing wouldn’t have to euthanize animals.

The first dogs should be moving into their tiny houses soon. And maybe they won’t be staying long.

“We also hope that the ‘home-like’ environment of the cabins will help us learn a little more about how a dog would act in a home, which could tell us more about what kind of foster or adopter they need for our matchmakers to match them with their forever families,” Bilbro says.

“Would they be calm or anxious, would they be destructive or tidy, are they possibly housetrained, will they let people come into their space without conflict? These are things we would hope to learn from a foster home but without needing to find a foster who is willing to take on a challenging dog, or a dog we don’t know a lot about.”

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I have nothing to do with neither Treehugger nor Austin Pets Alive.

However, I was so impressed with the way they operated that we made a very small donation. So, if there’s anybody else out there who can afford some money then this is the link to donate.

I just donated to Austin Pets Alive!, an organization that serves the animals most at-risk through innovative programs that address the animals’ needs. I’m proud to support a mission that believes that animal shelters should do just that – provide every animal the chance to find their forever home!

Provide every animal the chance to find their forever home.

It doesn’t get any better for our lovely dogs than that.

An insight into how breeds come about.

The background to breeds.

Funnily enough, Jeannie and I were speaking just recently about the creation of breeds, in particular because we were fascinated as to the breed origins of Oliver.

Oliver. Taken at home, 17th May, 2020.

Oliver’s eyes are to die for!

Well a recent article on the Treehugger blog threw some light on this.

I hope it is permissible to share it with you.

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Labradoodles Are More Poodle Than Lab

Study helps deepen understanding about how breeds are formed.
By
Published September 22, 2020

Australian Labradoodles aren’t officially recognized as a breed. Purple Collar Pet Photography / Getty Images

The Australian creator of the Labradoodle was trying to find the perfect guide dog for a blind woman whose husband was allergic to dog hair. He tried about a dozen poodles before breeding a poodle with a Labrador retriever. The resulting Australian Labradoodles became incredibly popular as a mix of two well-liked breeds.

But a new study finds that the breed that developed from that popular cross isn’t an even split of both breeds – it is primarily poodle.
Australian Labradoodles have been around for several decades and have been bred to each other and tinkered with since then. By contrast, many Labradoodles that are found in the U.S. are first-generation mixes of one Labrador and one poodle. These dogs were used as the control dogs in the study, researcher Elaine Ostrander, geneticist at the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health, tells Treehugger.

“We were interested in taking a genomic snapshot of a breed in the making—the Australian Labradoodle. The breed has only been around since the 1980s as opposed to the many breeds we see at the dog park which have been around since Victorian times and were created in Western Europe,” she says.

The Australian Labradoodle has gone through several generations, with careful and thoughtful addition of Labradors and poodles added, reflecting what breeders and owners want. We wanted to see if genomics could be used to tell what was happening to the genome of these dogs as they evolved into a breed.
The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), an international federation of many national kennel clubs, recognizes about 350 dog breeds. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes 195 breeds. The Labradoodle is not an official breed.

“We were also curious to see if the breed met the statistical definition of a breed. There are many measures in terms of genomic diversity and ability to ‘breed true’ that are taken into account when determining when a dog population is really a ‘breed’ at the genetic level,” Ostrander says.

Many of these breeds have been created through intense breeding programs focused on enhancing specific traits. When designer breeds are created, the genetic diversity is limited because there are a small number of animals being bred together. This often leads to a high incidence of disease and other problems.
Lots of Poodle DNA

For the study, researchers analyzed genetic data from Australian Labradoodles, Labrador retrievers, poodles, and a number of other breeds. The results were published in PLOS Genetics.

Ostrander says they were somewhat surprised at what they found.

“First, the Australian Labradoodle meets the definition of a breed at the statistical level. Those arguing for it to have breed status with various registries have a good argument,” she says. “What we didn’t expect was the degree to which today’s Australian Labradoodle has such a large component of its genome from the poodle. While the breed started as a 50-50 mix, it is clear that poodle traits are highly valued and many more poodles than Labradors have been added to the breed at strategic points.”

That’s likely because poodles have a reputation for being hypoallergenic, she points out, and elicit a lower allergic reaction than many other dog breeds in people with allergies or asthma.

“Owners buy Labradoodles for many reasons including their trainability, family friendly traits, and, importantly, they want a dog that won’t make them sneeze or otherwise respond,” she says. “Interestingly, the Labrador is very much present in every Australian Labradoodle we tested. Likely people are seeking the family-friendly traits of the Labrador and breeders work hard to retain that as well.”

Labradoodles weren’t the first doodle dogs and definitely are not the last. The first poodle mixes were likely Cockapoos because Cocker spaniels and poodles were two of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. in the 1940s. Today, you’ll find schnoodles (schnauzers), sheepadoodles (Old English sheepdog), and whoodles (soft-coated wheaten terrier). Poodles have been mixed with beagles, pugs, Australian shepherds, corgis, and even Saint Bernards.

The lore behind Australian Labradoodles is that English and American Cocker spaniels were mixed in with the breed early on.

“We did find some minor evidence for the addition of other breeds in some lineages of Australian Labradoodle. Likely this represents the historical relationship of those breeds with the poodle or Labrador more than anything else,” Ostrander says. “We did not see that in every lineage we looked at and where we did see it, the addition was very small and, likely, many generations ago.”

The findings are helpful, the researchers point out, because it shows how quickly genetics can be changed by thoughtful breeding.

“Imagine a breed has a significant risk for a disease. Careful breeding can reduce the incidence of those deleterious variants in just a few generations,” Ostrander says. “This is incredibly important to breeders who have taken very seriously the criticism they have received over the years regarding how established breeds are less healthy than mixes. We all want our dogs to be healthy, regardless of what breed they are.”

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This deserves a very careful read and, to those really interested in the subject, perhaps this will serve as an incentive to do more research. There are links in the article to the FCI and AKC.

And I will finish with the closing statement by Elaine Ostrander: “We all want our dogs to be healthy, regardless of what breed they are.