31 August 2009

Three Genes Determine The Nature of a Dog's Coat

How did the dog get its coat? Kipling never pondered that question — he was more concerned with how the leopard got its spots, among other things — but scientists have. And the answer, they report in Science, lies in just three genes.

Edouard Cadieu and Elaine A. Ostrander of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues looked at the genetic differences within single breeds that have more than one coat type. Purebred dogs are particularly suited for this kind of study, Dr. Ostrander said, because they have been selectively bred to segregate traits — there are long- and short-haired dachshunds, for example.

The researchers then used that information to look at a large dataset of genetic information from about 900 dogs representing 80 breeds. They were able to identify mutations at specific points, or loci, on three genes linked to fur length, curliness and growth pattern (bushy eyebrows, beards and other features that dog breeders refer to as furnishings).

Then they looked at these three loci, on the genes of another 662 dogs representing 108 breeds — from fluffy Old English sheepdogs to short-haired pugs. They found that the presence of the mutations or not, in various combinations, accounted for the variation in coat in 95 percent of the breeds. Only a few breeds, including Afghan hounds, have coats that can’t be explained by these genes.

There’s a certain elegance to the findings, Dr. Ostrander said. “We look at so much of the complexity in the world around us and say, Oh gosh, the underlying genetics must be so complicated,” she said. “But we’re beginning to feel that in fact nature is simple.”

The eventual goal, Dr. Ostrander said, is to use the same kind of sampling and comparison techniques to uncover how genetic variations combine to cause human diseases.

[Source: NYTimes.com]

28 August 2009

Elle Macpherson's Dog Gets a Modeling Contract!

The Australian supermodel's labradoodle will star in a national advertising campaign.

The five year-old will be the face of designer dog fashion brand Dogside.com, with mini billboards placed on lamp-posts throughout Britain.

Elle, 46, who already has her own lingerie and cosmetics ranges, has often been photographed out walking Bella near her Notting Hill home.

The brand's advertising materials boast that Bella is ideal for showing off its products, including leads, coats, scarves and bowls, for "today's stylish urban dog".

Dogside's Flora Page said: "We approached leading models about their signing up their pets.

"Elle is a dog lover and was top of our wish list, so we were thrilled when she phoned up in person to say that she would love Bella to be the face of our brand."

To read the full story, head on over to Telegraph.co.uk

26 August 2009

Remembering Ted Kennedy

Politics aside, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy will be remembered by many for his contributions to the nation and also for his love for his dogs Sunny and Splash, Portuguese Water Dogs.

He told Harry Smith of CBS in a 2006 interview:" Splash is a part of our family, but he's part of the senate family as well. He comes to work with me every day with his little niece Sunny and members of the senate dome. He's not allowed to go on the senate floor. He's troubled by that... because he thinks, he says that they won't let him on because people will say that they don't think he knows how to behave. But actually, he says that he behaves a lot better than most senators."

He gave President Obama his puppy, a Portuguese Water Dog, named Bo.

Kennedy wrote a children's book My Senator and Me in Sunny's voice. One of his greatest joys was sailing with his wife Vicki and the dogs on his sloop Mya.

[Source: USAToday.com]

24 August 2009

Oscar Newman Goes Nuts For Coconuts!

One of the coolest things about Pet Fashion Week this year was the fact that we got to catch up with our friends over at Oscar Newman Not only are these girls goddesses of all things stylish and sparkly, they also know quite a bit about pet care. Enter their new line: CocoTherapy.

CocoTherapy is Oscar Newman's new lifestyle brand, centering around the idea that coconuts are a miracle food for both two-leggers and four-leggers. The line currently contains 2 products: An organic virgin coconut oil, and some organic coconut chips that I'm currently munching on and really enjoying.

Coconut has long been associated with reducing allergic reactions, strengthening the immune system, and improving digestion. It's also a significant source of antioxidants.

Oscar Newman credits coconut with clearing up their Yorkie's allergies and increasing their cat's kidney function. After experiencing the benefits for themselves, they began distributing the chips and oil to friends who complained of a pet with a dry coat or allergies. What started out as a love for a product became a mission-of-love to share the oil and chips with other pets as well.

If health tastes this good, I'm all for it. Now, I wonder how some of these coconut chips would work on top of my regular Monday night Pina Colada?

Learn more about CocoTherapy here: Cocotherapy.com.

21 August 2009

TGIF Adorability

All caught up on Cute Overload and itching to overload on even more cute?

Check out the Reader's Dog Photos gallery on the NYtimes.com

19 August 2009

12 August 2009

26-Year-Old Max May Be The World's Oldest Dog

When Janelle DeRouen of New Iberia, La., heard about Chanel, the 21-year-old pooch who made headlines recently for being the world's oldest dog, she knew she had to set the record straight. After all, she's the mother of Max, a terrier mix who celebrated his 26th birthday at home on Aug. 9.

After getting in touch with the Guinness World Records and giving them vital stats about "her baby" Max, who is 182 in dog years, the dog is a major contender for the title. So, at Max's 26th birthday bash on Sunday, there was definitely much to celebrate. "We had a gift table set up. He had other little doggie friends over," DeRouen tells PEOPLE Pets. "Me and my husband [got] him his own little sofa bed. He has his own little couch now."

Born in 1983, the "active" geriatric dog hasn't had many health problems over the years, says DeRouen, who first told her story to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph. "The only time I had to bring him to the vet for something serious was for a tooth to be extracted. But that's it," she says. In recent years, he's had a few expected aliments. "He is starting to get cataracts, a little arthritis, but otherwise he's healthy."

[Source: MSNBC.com]

10 August 2009

Dogs and 2-Year-Olds on Same Mental Plane

According to accumulating research, the beloved family dog is really a toddler with a snout and tail.

"Dogs basically have the developmental abilities equivalent to a human 2-year-old," said dog expert Stanley Coren, who was scheduled to present recent canine research developments at the American Psychological Association annual meeting this week in Toronto.

The average dog can learn 165 words, although "super dog" Rico, a border collie, could understand 200 spoken words. Experts think some dogs can learn up to 250 words.

Dogs can count up to four or five and can correct you if you can't add one plus one.

One dog apparently learned to "read." Coren recounted the case of the canine who was able to "deliver" mail addressed to two girls, one with a short name and one with a long name. Although the owner thought the dog was actually reading, it turns out the canine was gauging the length of the name, not the individual characters, enabling him to deliver the mail to the right person.

To read this rest of the article, head on over to AJC.com

07 August 2009

Dogs Better Than Coffee & TV (Survey Confirms What We Already Know)

Nearly half (48 percent) of dog owners polled said they could not live without their dog on a daily basis — more so than their morning cup of coffee (35 percent), television (35 percent), car (26 percent), cell phone/BlackBerry (23 percent) or best human friend (15 percent).

In conjunction with the launch of a new website and contest, Beneful, a brand of dog food made by St. Louis-based Nestle Purina Petcare, has released the results of its recent survey on dog ownership.

According to the national survey, 95 percent of the 797 dog owners age 25 and up polled agreed that spending time with their four-legged friend lifted their spirits. Ninety-two percent said their dog helps them enjoy life’s simple pleasures! To check out all the survey findings, head on over to DogChannel.com

05 August 2009

The Prince and The Pup

Because Wednesday's a good day for cuteness, here's a photo of Prince William getting some warm fuzzies from a rescue dog.

Prince William met the dog during a fell walk in Cumbria's Lake district, in England. He's accompanied by a group of young people helped by the charity Centrepoint and volunteers from the Mountain Rescue service.

Prince William is a patron of Centrepoint, a charity for young homeless people and of the Mountain Rescue in England and Wales.

[Source: The Baltimore Sun]

03 August 2009

Nation's Cutest Dog Will Win A Million

Who is the cutest dog in the nation? That’s the question All American Pet Company hopes to answer with its $1 million Cutest Dog Competition, which kicked off Saturday and continues through October.

It could be Maxx, a Boston Terrier from Cumming cuddling with a stuffed gorilla in his photo. Or Skippy, from Boise, Idaho, wearing a red cape and blue swim goggles.

Or any of the other more than 4,000 cuddly, costumed dogs whose photos have been posted in the last two days.The deadline for submissions is Oct. 23, 2009.

The contest’s 12 weekly semi-finalists, judged by online public voting, will each win $500. From those 12 weekly winners, four finalists will be determined by the greatest number of votes and each will win $5,000.

Dog owners can enter the contest by filling out an online entry form and uploading a picture of their dog at cutestdogcompetition.com

Visitors to the site can vote by giving dogs a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

A panel of judges will choose from among the finalists and award the $1 million grand prize to the nation’s cutest dog on Thanksgiving.

[Source: The Atlanta Journal Constitution]