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Thursday, 30 January 2014

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Old saw though it may be, sometimes photographs of treasured memories really are among our best.

The post on squeaky toys motivated Dave to send me a long piece about all his dogs, with the story of Fish at the top. Dave obviously enjoyed writing it and I enjoyed his enjoyment and his memories of his many dogs.

Mike

Sweet pic. Very cool looking doggie and a great story, made my morning.

Many thanks to both of you for sharing. Would love to hear more...

Best,
Adam

Sweet story. We just "did what we had to" for our dog yesterday morning. A sixteen year old chihuahua mix that we rescued about nine years ago. Nothing nearly exciting as bear chasing happened with our pooch, though, she was simply a walking-buddy/couch-warmer.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2of5y77lo0fsf1f/8258_small.jpg

I like that the photo was taken with a DSLR/n. A very special camera.

Wonderful picture and story. Fish was a beautiful soul. Last Thursday I lost my Shepard mix Sadie. I had her for 14 years after finding her on the side of the road in Miami abandoned. I dreaded when the day would come we would not share our lives together any longer, but I feel gradually more grateful and content as each day paseses knowing she was loved. My house is a bit quieter now and the other doggies are still looking for her as she nestles softly in my heart. How lucky I was to have had such a kind and loving soul to share my life with.

http://cameraartist.com/2014/01/sadie-jane/

Very sad to hear from you all who have lost dogs recently...huge condolences.

Mike

Love the photo of Fish.
Dogs are just grand little creatures. Of the dogs I have known over the course of my life, one stands out from my early years. Jose (named for Jose Jimenez from the comedy routine by Bill Dana). He was a smallish little brick of a dog of undetermined origin. A muscular short-haired little thug, brindle in color, who never encountered anything to be afraid of. We lived in the country and he could regularly be found chasing after fox and bobcat. He was much smaller than the bobcats he loved to run. I worried that he would be eaten one day, but his attitude and confidence never failed to impress his prey. Luckily, he never caught up with one. I saw him leap into the air and catch a quail in mid getaway. He then sat and ate it while choking and gagging on the feathers.

He also climbed trees. One day while chasing a fox, the fox went up a tree. Good climbers. Jose followed. Not so good at climbing but determined. He made it about 15' up then lost his footing. I watched in dismay as he tumbled down bouncing off a last branch just over head high and fell to the ground. I thought he was dead, but he stood up, shook himself, barked and headed back up the tree. Not quite as high, though.

I had a couple of friends who I camped with when we could. When he was ready to sleep, Jose would crawl down my neck all the way to the foot of my sleeping bag. That's where he spent the night. A dandy foot warmer. He also gave me poison oak a couple of times since I was convinced at that time that sleeping bare kept you warmer in a sleeping bag. Anyway, dogs are grand creatures for putting up with us and bringing joy to our lives.

Mike, I just posted a longish post about my long ago dog, Jose, named for Jose Jimenez. Disclaimer – this was in the 60's. No offense intended to hispanic folks. A balancing fact. My name is currently synonymous with 1. a toilet. 2. a prostitute's client. Sheesh, you can't win.

Excellent image and memento, Dave. Such a heroic. dignified, energetic pose by Fish! My condolences to you and others here who have lost pets. I fear that I will be among your ranks within the coming year.

Our dogs are "resting" in an urn on our fireplace mantle. Ultimately we will all be together in the pet cemetery. On the back of our stone is the quote by Agnes Sligh Turnbull: “Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.”

"I wonder if dogs and coyotes have different numbers of chromosomes…"

Mike - I'm no expert, but from what I've read, the issue is not one of genetics, but of behavior. A coyote mother retreats to the den when she whelps, and she's supported by her mate, who brings her food and allows her to leave in order to relieve herself. Without this spousal support, she and the pups are likely to die. Dogs don't display this behavior. As a result, the litter will rarely survive in the wild.

If the mother is a dog, and the father a coyote, the survival of the litter is probably more likely, as dog mothers care for their young on their own, and if they're in a domestic environment, they can expect to be helped along by humans.

As far as DNA and a lineage in the wild are concerned, I suspect that it's only a matter of time before more research is done, and some small evidence of dog genes in wild coyote populations will be uncovered, but as far as I know, no such research is currently being done.

Since the more viable arrangement would appear to involve a dog mother and a coyote father; when the mixed offspring survive, they're more likely to mate with domestic dogs because of their inherited appearance and learned behaviors from their mother. Since mixed breed domestic and feral dogs are rarely the subject of large scale or long term scientific DNA studies, this would explain why there's very little published data on that subject.

In 1996, when we met Fish I did a lot of research and it was my understanding at the time that the genetic markers for coyote had not yet been identified. As of today, though those markers have been isolated, there are still no commercially available DNA tests to specifically identify coyote genes in domestic dogs. The tests come back as Breed A + Breed B + Breed C + Unknown.

With regard to Fish, the only evidence we have that she was a coydog is anecdotal, based on her appearance, her behavior, and the location where we found her. As an aside, couple of years ago, I looked up "coydog" in Wikipedia and the picture that accompanied the article was Fish's doppelgänger. This doesn't prove anything, but it pretty much put to rest any lingering doubts I might have had about her origins.

If you do a quick web search you'll find articles to support virtually every point of view regarding the existence of coydogs. They range from verifiable first hand accounts to claims that they're in the same category as the Chupacabra and Bigfoot. A interesting link for the former is here:

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/news/2011/08/coyote_hybrid_082511.html#.UusK8f2ZObA

In the case of those two pups, coyote morphology is dominant, but just like mixed-race humans, physical appearance is not necessarily an accurate indication of genetic heritage. A coydog's appearance could easily lean in either direction.

Thanks to all for the kind comments, and my condolences to those that have lost or are anticipating the loss of their own furry friends.

Mike: All of the "wolf-like" canids (including dogs and coyotes) have 78 chromosomes. They can all hybridize and have fertile offspring.

e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canid_hybrid

The issue about the coydog is not that they can be hybridized by men (they can) but whether they occur in any significant numbers in the wild. Many people though a lot of the "red coyotes" in the Eastern US were coydogs but doing the genetics it appears that they're coywolf hybrids ("Eastern Coyote"). The Nature show mentioned above covers the origin of these hybrids in the 20th century rather well.

A general issue with hybrids in the wild is how they decide to breed. Those hybrids that breed "assortatively" will be preserved i.e. those that preferentially breed with other hybrids (rather than either of the parent species) will tend to generate offspring that remain similar to the hybrids. In Seattle birders are aware of this in the common Western x Glaucous-winged Gulls hybrids ("Olympic Gulls") that do breed assortatively and don't get swamped out by the local Glaucous-winged Gulls.

Of course this brings up interesting issues about what a species is (there is no good single definition). This is one example that show the failing of the simple "biological species concept" i.e. two creatures are in the same species if they can breed and genereate fertile young. Or perhaps all the (wolf-like) canids in North America a single species or a superspecies? This sort of taxonomy that includes hybrids can get confusing often with intergrades (i.e. hybrids breeding back to the parent species giving a range of animals intermediate in appearance) causing even more confusion.

Risking to be Captain Obvious but it's a tad symbolic, the camera, being also hybrid of Kodak and Nikon. Which was which, tho? :)

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