DOGS HELPING PEOPLE AGAIN! (Courtesy of National Geographic)
"For reasons both practical and whimsical, man's best friend has been ... evolved into the most diverse animal on the planet - a staggering achievement, given that most of the 350 to 400 dog breeds in existence have been around for only a couple hundred years...
"In a project called CanMap, a collaboration among Cornell University, UCLA, and the National Institutes of Health, researchers gathered DNA from more than 900 dogs representing 80 breeds, as well as from wild canids such as gray wolves and coyotes. They found that body size, hair length, fur type, nose shape, ear positioning, coat color, and the other traits that together define a breed's appearance are controlled by somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 genetic switches...
"In nature, a physical trait or disease state is usually the product of a complex interaction of many genes, each one making a fractional contribution. Height in humans, for instance, is determined by the interaction of some 200 gene regions.
"So why are dogs so different? The answer, the researchers say, lies in their unusual evolutionary history."
(Written by Evan Ratliff for National Geographic)
Click on the photo to read the full article. Or see Robert Clark's photo-montage here. Read about the ancient origins of the canine here. Or check out big-time Weimaraner photographer William Wegman's story here.
FINALLY BACK - And in danger once again...
It seems there is some debate in and around Wyoming regarding hunting rules where wolves are concerned. And the debate is made controversial due to the wolves having just come off the endangered species list. Click on the photo to read the full NPR article about the people who would kill as many of these beautiful creatures as they could find (along with their not completely unreasonable reasons for doing so), and those who oppose this thinking in favor of keeping the original canines a thriving species.
WAIT! But that's a CAT!
Truth be told, we actually like cats too. Crazy, right? It's difficult to get a cat to wear a harness and lead you around the city all day, though, so we're in the business of raising only dogs to be service and therapy companions and wonderful pets. Sorry cat lovers!
Even so, we felt this article was important enough to share with our audience. It describes yet another example of how animals are helping the human race each and every day in truly remarkable ways. We couldn't find this article - which appeared in the February 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine - anywhere online to link to, so we've reprinted it in its entirety here. Get set to be blown away! (Or is that glown away?)
"AIDS Illumination" (written by Jeremy Berlin)
"Glow, cat, glow! That light helps researchers see if you might be capable of resisting feline immunodeficiency virus - a development that could one day point the way toward protecting humans against HIV/AIDS.
"FIV causes AIDS in cats much as HIV does in people, by decimating infection-fighting T cells. So last year a team led by the Mayo Clinic's Eric Poeschla inserted a rhesus macaque gene - producer of an antiviral protein - into unfertilized feline eggs. To monitor the gene transference under microscopes and certain lights, Poeschla added a luminescent protein from a jellyfish. The next-generation result: glow-in-the-dark kittens that produce the antiviral protein themselves. Soon he'll see if the modified cats are truly FIV immune.
"Paula Cannon, a University of Southern California gene therapist, says the illuminating work is 'a vital step' in genome-based AIDS research - for the health of humans and cats alike."
BARK!! BARK!! BARK!! BARK!! (STOP already!!!)
We have to believe that Cesar Milan knows a thing or two about training dogs out of their bad barking habits. He is the dog whisperer, after all. But since no one here at the Acres has met Mr. Milan yet, we decided to share this article on the subject, put out by another reputable source, the Humane Society of the United States. (Click on the photo to read more.) We hope those of you with excessively or inappropriately talkative (barkative?) canines will find the information helpful in restoring your best friend's best manners. And possibly your own sanity. Good luck!!
(Photo courtesy howtostopdogsfrombarking.org)