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December 10, 2013

Last Chance for Dog Photos w/ Santa, Fundraiser for MSPCA! Purebreeding (?) & Holiday Hazards

Holiday Greetings from Ernestine

A great time was had by all,  last Saturday at the MSPCA Fundraiser, Photos with Santa, held at Crate Escape too.  Everyone was surprised to see Santa— against tradition, he has given up the cookies, and appeared trim and ohsohealthy!

There’s still time to have your dog’s photo taken with Santa!  Join us:

Santa photos and holiday hours 2013ctown

Rumor has it that my sister, the charming bull mastiff, named Hilda  might be in Charlestown this Saturday for the photos.  Don’t try to put the jingle bell collar on her though! She’s afraid of it.

Later,  Ernestine

GoPet Low Impact Treadwheel at Crate Escape Belmont!

We can’t believe it either!!  The treadwheel is great exercise for so many reasons:

  • Dog powered – no electricity needed
  • Free, off-leash exercise  so that your dog can run at it’s own, natural pace
  • A physical outlet for energetic dogsA great source of exercise for overweight dogs
  • A physical outlet for energetic dogs
  • A great source of exercise for overweight dogs


How Have Dogs Changed After 100 Years of “Purebreeding”?

Dogster,  Chris Hall:  Animations from Gizmo

Photos from 1915 show how much breeding has altered dogs, and it’s not all about looks.

There have always been criticisms of the Obama family’s choice to get a purebred dog from a professional breeder.  This read takes a look at the issues inherent in breeding dogs. The proper role of breeders is a hugely controversial one and more than a few people will tell you that there is no proper role for breeders.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this 2012 post from the blog Science of Dogs has words and pictures that illustrate the results of breeding precisely.

Blogger Mus Musculus (presumably a pseudonym, because it’s the Latin species name for the common house mouse) took photos from the 1915 book Dogs of All Nations,  and paired them with modern photos of dogs from the same breed, in the same pose. The results after almost a century of selective breeding are striking. For instance, take a look at the change in the skull shape of the Bull Terrier below:

Bull Terrier, then and now.
Musculus singles out the English Bulldog as an especially egregious example of long-term breeding problems.

“There really is no such thing as a healthy Bulldog,” Musculus writes.” The bulldog’s monstrous proportions makes them virtually incapable of mating or birthing without medical intervention.”

The English Bulldog, then and now.

The Pug and the Boxer have seen their muzzles shrink in the past 100 years, resulting in common respiratory problems for each. Of the Pug, Musculus notes that “The highly desirable double-curl tail is actually a genetic defect, in more serious forms it leads to paralysis.”

The Boxer, then and now.

Of course, these dogs would be very different from their ancestors even if it weren’t for breeders. Ordinary natural selection, which took humans from being merely a particularly disreputable branch of the primates to inventing New York and the wheel, would have done its job on the Boxer and the Bulldog as well.

But one of the inherent results of selective breeding is that recessive traits, which need to be inherited from both parents in order to manifest, are preserved by interbreeding. Recessive traits are why human cultures discourage setting up housekeeping with cousins or siblings.

A characteristic that would otherwise get lost in the shuffle of genes over a few generations starts to turn into a standard characteristic. In humans, you start to get large incidences of things like hemophilia. In dogs, things like the double-curl tail become more common because they’re fetishized by owners and breeders.

Daschund, then and now.

The St. Bernard, then and now.

Does that make breeders inherently evil, or that we should harangue everyone who buys a dog from one? Regardless, it is worth thinking twice about what “purebred” actually means.


Holiday Hazards to Avoid:

To put it simply:

  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs. Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach.
  • Do not put lights on the lower branches of your tree. They may get very hot and burn your dog.
  • Watch out for electrical cords. Pets often try to chew them and get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place them out of reach.
  • Avoid glass ornaments, which break easily and may cut a dog’s feet or mouth.
  • Do not use edible ornaments, or cranberry or popcorn strings. Your dog may knock the tree over in an attempt to reach them.
  • Keep other ornaments off the lower branches; if your dog chews or eats an ornament, he can be made sick by the materials or paint.
  • Both live and artificial tree needles are sharp and indigestible. Keep your tree blocked off (with a playpen or other “fence”) or in a room that is not accessible to your dog.
  • Tinsel can be dangerous for dogs. It may obstruct circulation and, if swallowed, block the intestines.
  • Keep burning candles on high tables or mantels, out of the way of your dog’s wagging tail.
  • Review canine holiday gifts for safety. Small plastic toys or bones may pose choking hazards.
  • Your dog may want to investigate wrapped packages; keep them out of reach.
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