Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
duke here. i have a sad update for you
my buddy jj is not coming to visit anymore. he used to stay with us for a month and some other place for a month. my monkey was explaining to me that this was too hard on him emotionally and that jj was to stay one place now. so we had to be willing to give him up so he could have a single home and we could be free of the past. so while free, we are very, very sad
we wish jj could have come to stay with us for ever and ever. he helped me learn to live again and was a best friend to the monkey since he was cocktail wiener sized.
we will both miss him dearly and love him more than anything
hugs and kisses little man
we love you for ever and ever
ps please be understanding and don't talk to my monkey about this
Thursday, March 04, 2010
This essay highlights the unique features of dog populations that offer advantages for genetic studies, as well as recent advances in canine genomics that show how genetic mechanisms may control breed-defining traits. For example, the hunt for genes for a prominent trait in more than one breed (such as short legs) is simplified because of the genetic diversity observed between breeds. Also it is easier to identify disease genes in dogs than in the much more diverse human population.
Several features of the dog genome may lead to the large differences between domestic dog breeds, generating a higher rate of new, non-lethal variants in the dog genome, which are then available to be selected upon by breeders. Several discoveries correlating a gene to a particular trait are discussed, from the characteristic short legs of breeds like dachshunds and corgis, to the 30-fold differential in dog skeletal size, to fur texture and color.
"The dog genome is an extraordinary model for genomic study due to the combination of selective breeding practices and perhaps this species' unique capacity to undergo adaptive molecular changes," said co-author Abigail Shearin, a University of Pennsylvania veterinary student pursuing research training in the Ostrander Lab.
This work is supported by the intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Howard Hughes Scholars Program.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Canadian Press Raphael G. Satter, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Eight-year-old Treo joins a menagerie of heroic animals honoured over the years with a special award known as the Dickin medal, including 32 pigeons, three horses and a cat.
Sgt. Dave Heyhoe, the black Lab's handler, said he was "very proud indeed," adding the award was not just for him and his dog but "for every dog and handler that's working out in Afghanistan or Iraq."
Treo merely flicked out his rosy tongue as he and Heyhoe posed for photographs with the silvery medal. He squirmed as the medal was fitted around his neck.
The military nominated Treo for the prize in recognition of his help uncovering a series of Taliban bombs during his time serving in Helmand Province, an insurgency hot spot, in 2008. The Labrador is the medal's 63rd recipient since its inception in 1943, according to the Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals, the charity that awards the prize.
Man's best friend has won a big share of the medals, including a collie named Rob who joined British commandos in repeated parachute operations behind enemy lines during World War II.
More recently, Sadie, another bomb-sniffing dog, was awarded the Dickin medal for helping to alert coalition forces to an explosive hidden under sandbags in Kabul in 2005.
Other animals, notably carrier pigeons used in World War II, have bagged honours as well.
Countries from Australia to Hungary occasionally honour exceptionally brave animals with medals in a variety of contexts.
There's no equivalent to the Dickin medal in the United States, although military animals have been honoured with medals or memorials on an unofficial, ad hoc basis.
The most famous U.S. recipient, a World War I mutt named Sgt. Stubby, served in 17 battles, was wounded in a grenade attack and survived several gassings. Between locating wounded Allied soldiers in the trenches, he even managed to help nab a German spy.
Stubby, now stuffed and on display at the Smithsonian, was awarded several medals, including a Purple Heart, and the canine was made a lifetime member of the American Legion. But the practice of giving medals to animals was eventually abandoned by the U.S. military on the ground that the practice risks devaluing the awards given to soldiers.
Lisa Nickless, a spokeswoman for the animal charity, said no one had raised any such concerns about Treo.
"He saved human life," she said.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Canadian Press Eliane Engeler, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
GENEVA - Lawyer Antoine F. Goetschel feels uncomfortable talking about one of his recent clients. And it isn't just because he lost the case.
"Fish don't get much sympathy," he explains. That's doubly true for the unnamed dead pike whose cause Goetschel took up earlier this month, much to the amusement of Swiss anglers who couldn't understand why one of their own was being hauled into court for landing a big catch.
Goetschel is Europe's only animal lawyer and the figurehead for a movement that wants to expand Zurich's pioneering legal system across Switzerland.
Voters will decide in a March 7 poll whether every canton (state) should be required to appoint an animal lawyer to represent the interests of pets and farm animals in court - in effect a dedicated public prosecutor for dogs, cats and other vertebrates that have been abused by humans.
"Swiss law has taken a big step forward in recent years" particularly for animals that live in groups, Goetschel tells The Associated Press.
The country's constitution now prohibits keeping pigs in single pens and budgies alone in a cage - solitary confinement, as Goetschel calls it.
Dog owners have to take a training course and from 2013 it will be forbidden to tie horses in their stalls.
Campaign group Swiss Animal Protection, which launched the petition and gathered the necessary 100,000 signatures to force a nationwide vote, argues that abuses on pets are often not taken seriously by local authorities and don't make it up to court.
The Swiss government has recommended voters reject the proposal, saying animal lawyers are unnecessary and existing laws are sufficient.
Swiss Animal Protection's director Hansueli Huber says the group received 5,000 reports of alleged abuse in 2008. That's about 1,000 more than in 2007, he added.
"As long as you consider animal rights breaches a trivial offence we don't get anywhere," he says, noting that in many cases pet owners get away with a fine.
The debate took on a new dimension two weeks ago when prosecutors in the canton of Zurich accused an angler of having tortured a large pike, because the battle between man and beast took about 10 minutes.
Goetschel, in his capacity as the canton's animal lawyer, was in court to represent the dead fish. He regrets that the case, which isn't typical of his work, received so much attention.
"At least a lot of people who didn't know what an animal lawyer is discovered that the job is about representing the interests of animals in court," he says.
Asked why he represented the fish, Goetschel says, "It's the same reason why a prosecutor goes after a murderer: to make sure that people are suitably punished for their crimes."
Goetschel says he represents about 150-200 animals each year, mostly dogs, cows and cats. Since animals can't pay, the canton of Zurich picks up his 200 Swiss francs-an-hour ($185-an-hour) bill.
"A commercial lawyer wouldn't touch a pencil for that kind of money," says Goetschel, who sports a distinctive silver mane and is vegetarian.
The Swiss Farming Association opposes the plan to appoint more animal lawyers, and pet breeders are divided.
Peter Rub, president of the Swiss dog breeding association, says he is in favour because "animals are not objects" to be paraded in fashion shows or to be brought up in crowded places without sufficient exercise.
Roger Bernet, president of the Swiss Budgerigar Society, says there's no need for special animal lawyers and it could lead to absurd situations such as the fish case.
Goetschel, who says he probably won't appeal on behalf of the pike, notes "It's not about making animals into humans."
But if Swiss voters accept the proposal, "it would really push the animal rights debate forward."
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Canadian Press THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WARSAW, Poland - Baltic, the Polish dog rescued from the frigid Baltic Sea after a long journey on an ice floe, is again braving those waters - this time safely onboard the ship whose crew saved him.
Wearing a bright orange lifejacket, Baltic embarked Wednesday on a three-day mission alongside his new owner Adam Buczynski, a seaman who pulled him to safety from an ice sheet in the Baltic Sea last month.
Buczynski said the dog seemed stressed by the commotion of preparing the trip. In footage shown on Polish TV, Baltic sat on his lap, his head buried between Buczynski's legs.
Ewa Bardziej-Krzyzankowska, spokeswoman for the Sea Fisheries Institute in Gdynia, co-owner of the ship, said the crew is taking anti-nausea pills for Baltic in case he gets sea sick.