Guardian angels come in all forms. May yours be watching over you this weekend. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsFriday Funny: Too Tired to Help With The DishesFriday Funny: No Worries!Friday Funny: Get Well SoonFriday Funny: Scary VisitorsFriday Funny: Some Guard Dog You Are!Friday Funny: Smart Dog!
My son started back to school this week, so this gave me a little chuckle. Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Related PostsFriday Funny: School’s Back in SessionFriday Funny: Fishing for DogsFriday Funny: Dog FeetFriday Funny: Smart Dog!Friday Funny: Paternity TestingFriday Funny: Some Guard Dog You Are!
We often talk about the South American wild dogs. The South American wild dogs are a sister group to Canis and its allies, and in South America, evolution allowed dogs to go many unusual directions.
When the dog family phylogenetic tree was drawn from sequencing the genome of a boxer, I was amazed that it put the bush dog, which is sort of a wild version of the dachshund, as being a sister species to the maned wolf, which has very long legs.
There was actually a big debate as to where the bush dog actually fit. When I was learning about dog evolution as a child, I had books that told me that the dhole, African wild dog, and the bush dog were all closely related because of their trenchant heel dentition. One of their carnassials has a single, blade-like cusp that increases their ability to bolt shear meat.
The phylogenetic tree that was created from the dog genome sequence pretty much ended this discussion. The dhole and African wild dog were both found to be closely related to Canis, more so than the side-striped and black-backed jackals. The bush dog was with the maned wolf and the other South American canids, and the trenchant heel dentition was the result of convergent evolution.
End of story.
Or so I thought.
In 2012, a study was released that that was meant to update the divergence times with all extant carnivora. The researchers used large samples of DNA and other characters to determine when these animals diverged from each other. Some of these “other characters were things like vocalization and scent gland similarities.
Its phylogenetic tree for Canidae is similar to that in the aforementioned paper on the domestic dog genome, except that it greatly increases the divergence time between species. For example, it has the Urocyon foxes diverging from the rest of Canidae 15-16 million years ago, instead of the 9-10 million years that the dog genome paper found. It also has the golden jackal and the coyote being sister species, and the wolf is not the closest relative of the coyote. We now know this is very much in error, and it probably comes from the non-genetic “source trees” that were used in the analysis. It has has the Tibetan fox as being related to the extinct Falkland Islands wolf, which happened because there are almost no genetic studies on the Tibetan fox. Both the Tibetan fox and the Falkland Islands wolf had kind of weird squared off bodies, though, and this type of analysis does use morphology.
It has the dhole as being closely related to the wolf, golden jackal, and coyote.
But it has the African wild dog splitting off much sooner from this clade, and what’s more, it has the bush dog as its sister species!
One should be skeptical of this finding, because of its use of so many non-genetic “source trees,” it is going to miss the problem that occurs so much with dog species. Convergent evolution and phenotypic plasticity run riot in the family, and it is really hard to figure out relationships between species using just morphology and behavior alone.
This would make a lot of sense if it were confirmed with better genetic studies. Bush dogs are very weird animals. They are the only South American canids that hunt in packs. They really don’t have a rich fossil record, and it is pretty hard to connect them to other South American wild dogs.
It is tempting that they might be something that weird, but we need more evidence.
If they really did turn out not to be part of the South American clade of wild dogs and to be closer to the African wild dog, it would be a real shocker.
But not entirely.
The questions that would arise from it would be how it evolved. We have evidence of Xenocyon coming into North America. Xenocyon is traditionally thought of as the ancestor of the African wild dog and the dhole, but it may not be. But there is also evidence of dholes or dhole-like dogs that are actually closer to the AWD coming into North America and making it as far south as Mexico.
So maybe there is something to it.
But this sort of study does have its limits. It’s trying to morph both classical and molecular techniques for taxonomy, and those tend not to hold up very well.
But I still think it’s worth examining.
Hey there! I’m Chaparro, which means “short.” Personally, I don’t think people call me that because of my stature…I think it’s my name because I’m nothing short of…
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This is a post I never imagined I’d have to write. Some of you may have already seen my update on Instagram yesterday. For the rest of you, here it is.
On Tuesday morning of this week, Emmett’s 7 month birthday, he was diagnosed with a rare, serious form of Epilepsy. The only symptom was an occasional random head nod he’d had on and off for a few days that we decided to have checked out by his pediatrician, just to be safe. Long story short, after an immediate trip to a pediatric neurologist and an EEG, we were given a diagnosis, and spent the rest of the week in the pediatric unit of Northwestern/CDH hospital.
The prognosis for this specific type of epilepsy is very poor for the vast majority of the cases – but most of the tests we’ve had done, along with the facts that Emmett is developmentally where he should be for his age and we caught it very early, are positive signs. They have also found no cause for this with Emmett (which is actually a good thing with this specific disease). His time in utero and life up to this point have been perfectly healthy.
We are now giving him twice daily injections at home of a powerful medicine that, while not without extreme side effects, will hopefully help end his seizures soon and thus give him a chance. How he reacts to the medication over the next couple of days is crucial in determining what the outcome will be.
Whatever your beliefs, please channel good energy, pray, manifest, meditate, focus on healing vibes for our little boy. I believe in the power of positive collective energy – I have seen it work. The more people sending love and light his way, the more people praying, and the more people envisioning a positive outcome, the better I believe his chances are. We are so grateful for the support and love of our friends (internet friends included) and family right now. We feel lucky to know so many kind, compassionate people who care about our family and our son. I am terrified. This is hell. But I believe. Just like I had a strong maternal instinct that told me something was wrong when it looked like absolutely nothing, I have a strong instinct telling me that Emmett is going to pull through this and be one of the exceptions.
For right now, Bubby and Bean will remain silent of regular posts while we make sense of this. My number one priority right now is to focus on Emmett and his sister. I also ask you to forgive me for not being the best communicator right now, and not in the head space to answer questions or to be able to handle much more than just good vibes. I will update as I can.
Thank you in advance for sending any love you can our way. Emmett is a fighter, and I believe in him with all my heart.
I’m sure that just about everyone has seen the footage of the Tibetan fox. Its blocky head is really unique among canids, and one theory about why it has such an unusual head is that the head actually makes the fox more camouflaged around rocks as it stalks its prey.
If you’ve not seen the footage, here it is:
The Tibetan fox is found in the Tibetan and Ladakh Plateaus, and it pretty much found only in high grasslands. It is a specialist of this environment.
The mitochondrial genome of this species was sequenced recently. Preliminary studies had indicated that its closest relative is the corsac fox, which ranges in the steppe country that runs from the eastern edge of the Caucasus to northeastern China. It lives in arid, semi-arid, and grassland habitats to the north of the core range of the Tibetan fox.
The corsac is the basic fox. It is smaller than most red foxes, and it comes in gray or reddish brown.
And to be completely honest with you, I have a very hard time telling corsac foxes from North American swift foxes (Vulpes velox). I should note that even though the two look alike, the corsac is more closely related to the red fox, while the swift fox* is very close to the arctic fox (Vulpes lagogpus). Both swift and corsac foxes are adapted to grassland ecosystems, so their similarities can be chalked up to simple convergent evolution.
The researchers who sequenced the Tibetan fox mitochondrial genome also looked at other dog species and found that modern dog species radiated very rapidly. The authors estimate less than 5 million years separates Canis species from the maned wolf, which is actually quite about half the time that has been estimated for the divergence between Canis and its allies and the South American wild dogs through the sequencing of the dog genome.
Mitochondrial DNA studies can lead us astray, but this is still an interesting find.
The researchers found that the corsac and Tibetan foxes split from each other about 1 million years ago. Although they don’t say so in the paper, it’s pretty likely that the corsac is the ancestor of the Tibetan fox. Maybe it happened like this:
A population of corsac foxes, whose range had been pushed south during the Pleistocene, were able to roam into the Tibetan Plateau during a warming period. They were then cut off by glaciers and began their journey toward speciation, adapting the high grassland habitat in ways that made them quite different from their ancestors. The squared off heads gave the foxes marginal advantages in hunting in the high, rocky grasslands.
The authors didn’t find any genetic evidence of any sort of adaptations in the mitochondrial genome for higher altitude living among Tibetan foxes. Those genes probably do exist, but they don’t exist in the mitochondrial genome.
So what the researchers found is that Tibetan fox is very closely related to the corsac fox. This is not a surprising find, but I have wondered where this fox really does fit in the dog family. It’s from such an isolated area that virtually no studies have been done on it.
The squareness of its head makes the Tibetan fox a bit of a celebrity in the digital age. If BBC cameras hadn’t filmed it (twice!), it wouldn’t really be known. I’d only ever heard of it from a children’s book, which included a bad painting of one. It was just a nondescript fox as far as I was concerned.
So the Tibetan fox is a modification on the basic fox.
It evolved from the banal to the bizarre.
Bizarre enough to be on the BBC.
*The study looked at kit foxes. Kit foxes are closely related to swift foxes. Both are very closely related to the arctic fox.
Hang on! Wait! Just because your dog tests positive for Lyme disease in the vet’s office does NOT mean you need to treat with antibiotics!
My sister and two friends of mine recently took their dogs to their vets for an annual exam. All the dogs seemed totally healthy and had no complaints at all. Their vets did a quick office SNAP blood test for Lyme disease (the tick borne disease endemic across the East Coast and much of the country) and the dogs tested positive for Lyme. All three of their vets prescribed those dogs a month’s worth of doxycycline to “treat” the Lyme disease.
But those dogs probably did not have Lyme disease!!
Dogs that do have Lyme disease show some or all signs of the illness: lameness, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, lack of appetite, lethargy.
I continue to be frustrated and baffled that so many dogs who are tested for Lyme (as they should be) are often prescribed drugs that they do not need 95% of the time.
As you will hear in the interview below, Dr. Donna Spector explains that experts in the field estimate that 70-90% of all healthy dogs in areas with the disease will test positive for it – without having Lyme disease.
Only 5% of dogs exposed to the bacteria will ever get clinical signs of it – in which case the dog would need those antibiotics to clear the bacteria from his system.
I urge you to listen to my conversation with Dr. Donna Spector – the board certified veterinary internist who is my co-host on our Radio Pet Lady Network show The Expert Vet. She came on Dog Talk last year to help clarify widespread confusion by owners and vets in how to interpret and manage test results.
Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know
Dog Talk (05-02-2015) #419: “Everything you need to know about Lyme disease and might have to educate your own vet about.” Dr. Donna Spector, Tracie’s co-host on the Radio Pet Lady network show THE EXPERT VET brings everyone up to date on the when/why/how of Lyme disease.
As you will hear in this interview, Dr. Donna explains that a positive test generally means that a dog has been exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme (because you live in an environment that is endemic to the ticks that carry it) and their body has mounted a successful immune response to the bacteria. That’s actually a good thing!
She also explains that experts recommend that you test the urine of a dog with a positive Lyme test to make sure there is no protein in their urine. That can be the earliest sign of the illness and can actually result in kidney failure and even death if not diagnosed and treated.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.
Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.
You never know what you’re going to see on live television, including an adorable stray kitten crashing a newscast!
According to Buzzfeed, that’s just what happened in Detroit one Monday morning when WXYZ-TV Channel 7 reporter and anchor Nima Shaffe was wrapping up a segment in front of the local sheriff’s office.
Shaffe was surprised to look down and see a tiny marmalade and white cat boldly approach him and begin meowing incessantly. “She was scurrying about underneath cars and meowing really loud,” Shaffe told Buzzfeed.
Shaffe reached down and picked up the little cat and became instantly smitten with the active roly-poly girl they named Lucky Seven. “She likes to talk,” Shaffe told Buzzfeed. “She likes to tell people her life story.”
Read more about Lucky Seven.
I almost can’t believe I’m saying this, but Essley starts preschool in just a few weeks. (Wait, didn’t I just give birth to the kid, like, last week?) And while I suppose I can’t really use the term “back-to-school” to apply to us, since this is technically our first school adventure and it’s not like we’re going back to anything, we’ve been getting into back-to-school mode around here. The preschool Essley is attending is part of the public school system here, so it follows the same calendar as older grades and has some of the same requirements in terms of school supplies, etc. So while it’s only a two day a week program and the students are all two-and-a-half and three year olds, it feels pretty official.
I’m admittedly both excited and nervous, as I always tend to be with “first times” when it comes to my kids, and we want Essley to look forward to going to school, so we’ve been practicing a routine that, naturally, begins with our mornings. I work from home so we’ve gotten pretty used to leisurely mornings that often involve moving slowly, making semi-elaborate breakfasts (especially when Robbie, our house chef, is home between the band’s tours), and lots of time spent in pajamas. Recently we’ve breaking out of that mold in preparation for school by getting dressed and washed up right away, and eating nutritious but simple breakfasts that take less time, like Essley’s favorite, Cheerios with organic fruit. After breakfast Essley usually runs directly to her backpack, puts it on, and loudly proclaims that it’s time to go to school. Establishing this morning routine has been beneficial for all of us. It’s actually kind of fun.
We’ve also been preparing for the back-to-school mornings (and school in general) by shopping for breakfast and after school snack items at Costco. In addition to having everything we need, Costco is currently running a really cool Box Top special called the Golden Box Tops Challenge, where, by purchasing specially marked General Mills products with 8 Box Tops (like Essley’s beloved Cheerios), you can enter to win an additional 100 eBoxTops (!!!). This may be our first year but we’re already well aware of how Box Tops help raise money for and bring major classroom benefits to schools, so this is a really wonderful way for us to get ourselves prepared for getting involved, even at the Pre-K level. And if you don’t have a lot of extra time or money to devote to your kids’ schools, Box Tops are an incredible way to contribute through items that you already have on your grocery list. We’ve also been teaching Essley how Box Tops can help her school, and together we make a game out of cutting them out and putting them into a basket that she’ll be able to bring to her school later on. We have also, of course, entered the Golden Box Tops Challenge. You can enter too! Just click here to learn how, along with more about the prizes and participating products. We think it’s pretty great.
While I’m by no means a back-to-school expert (you honestly can’t get more “beginner” than me if we’re being honest here), for my fellow new-to-school preschooler moms and dads, I highly recommend getting a head start on your school mornings if you can. Even our simple routine of getting up at an established time, getting dressed, making and eating an easy but healthy breakfast, brushing teeth, and encouraging Essley as she pretends to head to school for the day, along with other back-to-school activities like participating in Costco’s Golden Box Tops Challenge, has made the whole experience feel like a something to get excited about instead of dread.
Do any of you have kids heading to preschool this fall? Who else collects Box Tops?
Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. This post is sponsored by Costco Golden Box Tops and Acorn.