Archive for the ‘Animals with Jobs’ Category

NYPD’s canine corps grows by leaps and bounds

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Police DogThe New York City Police Department increased its canine force from 60 to more than 100 dogs in the past decade, and the animals are part of the department’s bomb squad, Transit Bureau, narcotics unit and Emergency Service Unit. The department’s German shepherds can be equipped with cameras to relay information, and they live with their handlers. Daily News (New York)

The NYPD is going to the dogs.

The department has slashed the number of officers by 17% over the past 12 years, but its force of crimefighting canines has nearly doubled over that same period.

“The K-9 units have expanded, especially over the last five years or so, and there are no plans to stop that,” said police spokesman Detective Martin Speechley.

He declined to give the exact number of pooch protectors on the force, citing security concerns.

There are over a hundred police dogs serving in different NYPD agencies, a source says.

But more than 100 dogs now work in the Transit Bureau, narcotics, the bomb squad and Emergency Service Unit, according to sources. That’s up from about 60 a decade ago.

The growing furry force is part of a larger law-enforcement trend nationwide and in the military.

Many of the NYPD’s German shepherds can carry cameras on their backs to check out suspicious packages or give officers an inside view of a hostage standoff.

The dogs all come from Eastern Europe when they are between 18 months and 2 years old.

“That’s the perfect time to see if they have any psychological issues, and it’s early enough for us to train them,” Speechley said.

As for officer staffing, the NYPD has dropped from its high of 41,000 at the end of the Giuliani administration to approximately 34,000 today.

The starting pay for police officers is $41,975, which rises to $76,488 after 5½ years.

But it only costs about $1,000 to feed each dog annually.

And the NYPD wants to cut that expense too.

Earlier this month, the department began to look for a new wholesale food provider, records show.

Last year, the NYPD used $100,000 in federal grants to buy two kennel trucks equipped with spacious spots for dogs to hang out during an extended tour.

The dog’s handlers bring them home at the end of each shift. And adopt them upon retirement when they get too old to patrol.

The NYPD isn’t the only local agency with an expanding K-9 force.

The MTA’s police canine unit is one of the largest in the U.S., with 50 dogs in active duty patrolling the LIRR, Metro-North and Staten Island Railway stations.

The pooches are not immune to the dangers of the job.

In June, NYPD police dog Bear required surgery for fractured teeth after a wild subway brawler booted him in the mouth.

The injury occurred as the courageous dog came to the aid of a fellow officer trying to break up a fight among four women at the 4 line station at E. 59th St. and Lexington Ave.

rblau@nydailynews.com

Dogs trained to detect human cancers using scent

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Dogs have been trained to use their noses to detect human cancers including lung and ovarian cancer with reliability, and one U.K. organization is training dogs to detect bladder cancer by sniffing urine samples. Dogs have a keen sense of smell thanks to their abundant olfactory cells, and since they can communicate with humans better than animals such as mice, they are useful for detecting cancers, said veterinarian Cynthia Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. CBS News

A dog’s sense of smell might be one of his or her best, innate abilities. And an increasing number of researchers are using that nose to help humans detect cancer.

Claire Guest of Berkshire, England runs a charity called “Medical Detection Dogs”that trains dogs how to detect cancer. One project involves teaching animals how to find out which patients have bladder cancer using only urine samples.

Guest’s connection to the project is a personal one. She was letting her dogs out one day when Daisy started jumping and nuzzling her head on Guest’s chest. She went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Without any question I would not be as well and perhaps alive today had Daisy not drawn my attention to it,” she told CBS News’ Alphonso Marsh.

Dogs trained to detect ovarian cancer have 90 percent accuracy rate

The science of dogs sniffing out cancer is emerging. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Working Dog Center are currentlytraining three dogs how to smell ovarian cancer in different samples.

“Mice can do a better job at sniffing out things (than dogs),” Dr. Cynthia Otto, director of the Working Dog Center and associate professor of critical care at Penn Vet, previously told CBSNews.com. “But, there is an ability to communicate between a dog and a human so they can tell us what they are finding.”

Dogs are also up to the task because they have a larger number of olfactory or smell sensors than humans do, Otto explained. In addition, the area of the forebrain that processes smell information is larger than a human’s.

Additional studies of dogs detecting cancer include a 2011 German paper that showed that dogs were able to detect people with lung cancer with 71 percent accuracy, and correctly distinguish people without lung cancer in 93 percent of the cases. Another West Hills, Calif. trainer is working with researchers to teach dogs how to detect ovarian cancer using breath samples.

Scientists are also trying to come up with technology that mimics the dogs’ natural abilities. Some companies are making electronic “noses” that can pick up on these cancer smells.

Researchers are also testing a “mechanical dog” that sniff’s a patient’s breath to tell if they have cancer markers. They hope that if all tests continue to go well the tool could be used to diagnose cancer within five years.

Service dog brings aid and friendship to girl with debilitating bone disease

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Service Dog for AniceeTen-year-old Anicee Lamoreaux has already had 100 broken bones due to osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, but that’s not stifling her excitement over her new service dog, Pearl. Pearl hasn’t completed her training yet, but once she does, she’ll be the newest Lamoreaux family member, responsible for helping Anicee perform daily tasks. But more importantly, Pearl will be the friend Anicee needs. Anicee’s parents, both of whom also have osteogenesis imperfecta, are raising money to help cover the $10,000 cost for Pearl and her training. Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)

They’ve only known each other a few short weeks, but Anicee and Pearl are already partners in crime.

Pearl, a 14-week-old labradoodle, has a fluffy puppy-dog face anyone would love. But she is loved most of all by her 10-year-old owner, Anicee Lamoreaux, who is raising money to keep Pearl as her personal service dog.

Anicee, a fifth-grader at Birch Elementary, has osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease. The condition means Anicee can break a bone simply by coughing or sneezing too hard.

Anicee uses a specialized wheelchair to get around, and Pearl will be a valuable partner who can help her open doors, help with errands and bring her medication or other essential items.

Most of all, Pearl also will be Anicee’s constant companion.

“I’ll have a buddy to spend time with,” she said, feeding treats to her pet in her living room Thursday. “I don’t have that many friends, so I’ll have a friend who will be with me every day, hour, minute.”

Anicee was adopted from Belize in 2010 by her parents, Chris Lamoreaux and Lisa Ferrerio. Both parents also have osteogenesis imperfecta and said they wanted to adopt a child who had a similar condition.

“We knew how much we could offer her,” Ferrerio said. “We know exactly what it’s like to go through surgery or be talked about in school.”

Anicee’s parents also wanted her to have extra help, but the cost of service animals can be overwhelming, especially on top of other medical bills.

The family and their friends are organizing several fundraisers to help cover the estimated $10,000 annual cost to provide Pearl’s specialized training.

As a service dog, she must undergo many hours of training that will familiarize her with Anicee’s specialized care.

That’s worth it for Ferrerio, who remembers the companionship and warmth of her own service dog, Kosmo. Ferrerio had Kosmo when she was a teenager.

When Ferrerio’s longtime friend, dog trainer Ana Melara, came across Pearl, she knew the puppy would be a good fit for the family because of her low-key, gentle temperament. Melara is in charge of much of Pearl’s service dog training.

“She’s just such a sweet dog,” she said.

When Anicee met her dog for the first time, she said she couldn’t contain her excitement.

“I was jumping up and down. I could have broken the wall,” she said with a smile. “I wish I could take her for the whole day.”

Pearl isn’t a permanent resident at Anicee’s house yet, though. Melara is in charge of training the puppy in all the basics, and it could take up to two years before Anicee and her dog become permanent companions. Right now, Anicee and Pearl hang out about twice a week.

 

Help Anicee and PearlBirch Elementary School student Anicee Lamoreaux is raising money to train her service dog, Pearl.

An art silent auction, featuring art by Anicee, will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 26 at Pearl’s training center, Training with Grace, 9100 W. Sixth Ave. in Lakewood. For more information, go to facebook.comand search “Anicee and Pearl” for updates and other fundraising opportunities.

To learn more about Anicee’s fundraisers or to donate money to help train Pearl, visithttp://aniceefunds.com.

Ferrerio said the training will help make sure Pearl is the right dog for her daughter, who has experienced about 100 broken bones in her short 10 years. Anicee also has undergone three major surgeries to help strengthen her spine and legs, and she hopes to have Pearl nearby when she undergoes another surgery on her arms sometime next year.

“Pearl will be so important in Anicee’s life,” Ferrerio said. “We’ll need her to be Anicee’s arms and legs, and we need to know that Pearl won’t bolt when she sees something like a squirrel or duck — that would break Anicee’s arm.”

So far, Anicee and Pearl are already fast friends. Anicee can’t wait to introduce her dog to her fifth-grade class and take her dog on the playground.

Her dad said he’s happy Anicee is getting the opportunity. In Belize, she didn’t have the same medical opportunities or the chance to have a service dog.

“Here, she has the medical accessibility she needs,” he said.

Anicee’s grandmother, Diane Holstein, said Pearl will bridge the gap between her granddaughter and her peers. Right now, kids don’t always know how to interact with Anicee, but Pearl’s presence will give them a way to talk and ask questions, she said.

“People will see Anicee at King Soopers, the library, out in the community, and Pearl will help people get to know her,” she said

Children with autism improve communication using horses and iPads

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

New is meeting old as iPads and horses have been incorporated into a new approach to helping children with autism communicate. In the program, called Strides, the children ride horses and also learn speech and language skills using applications on their iPads. The combination has helped unlock new ways for the kids and their families to communicate, with parents reporting their first-ever two-way conversations with their children. Yahoo/Asian News International

Washington, Sept 15 (ANI): A new study has revealed that children with autism can improve their verbal communications skills with the help of horses and iPads.

Southern Tier Alternative Therapies, Inc. (STAT), together withTina Caswell, a clinical faculty member in Ithaca College’s Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, has combined equine therapy and assistive technology through an exclusive program called Strides.

The Strides program puts children on horseback and gives each family iPads equipped with speech-generating applications.

Caswell and her team of Ithaca College graduate students provide intensive, highly customized training and ongoing support. The unique therapeutic approach has helped children reach significant breakthroughs in communication, both verbally and through effective use of the device.

Caswell said that it’s the first time the children have been on horseback, the first time many of them are using iPads with speech software, and more important, the first time they’ve had any kind of access to self-expression.

She said that parents also told her that it’s the first time they’ve been able to have a two-way conversation with their kids.

The researchers found that children are doing more than requesting food and toys and for the first time, they are telling narratives and sharing feelings.

Each child participating in the program is given an iPad to be used as a speech-generating device. Participants and their parents are then trained by the Strides team and the Ithaca College students and faculty to continuously update new communication opportunities on their devices. (ANI)

Diabetes alert dog brings comfort, relief to boy and his family

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Diabetic Alert DogsKermit, a 2-year-old service dog trained to detect fluctuations in human blood sugar levels, helps 9-year-old Kiernan Sullivan monitor his type 1 diabetes, giving Kiernan’s parents some extra relief. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to problems such as neuropathy, limb loss and even blindness, so specially trained dogs, along with tools such as glucose monitors that help keep blood sugar levels within the normal range, can improve the quality of diabetes patients’ lives, said physician Andrew Ahmann. The Oregonian (Portland)

When 9-year-old Kiernan Sullivan started school this month, he attends each class in the company of his new best friend – a 2-year-old service dog named Kermit.

“It’s fun but hard,” Kiernan says of his new charge. “You have to feed him, take him out to bathroom and take him out for walks.”

Kiernan has Type 1 diabetes, which usually affects children and young adults and accounts for about 5 percent of all diabetes cases. It occurs when the body does not produce insulin, a hormone needed to convert starches, sugars and other food into energy.

Kiernan, who was diagnosed when he was six, experienced a grand mal seizure in November. The experience was scary, but his parents thought they could manage Kiernan’s disease with careful meal planning and regular insulin shots.

Then one Saturday morning in March, Kiernan’s mom, Michelle Sullivan, awoke to a horrifying scene.

Her husband, Stuart, had left early that morning to go grocery shopping so the family could do something together. He kissed her goodbye and closed the bedroom door so she could sleep in a bit.

She awoke to her husband’s terrified screams as he came home to find their son lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Kiernan had wandered into the kitchen to find some sugary food to bolster his blood sugar but found only sugar-free licorice. Bright red licorice was still smeared on his face when his parents found him.

The Sullivans realized they needed help. Thanks to the help of a staff member at Kiernan’s school, City View Charter School in Hillsboro, they found out about Dogs Assisting Diabetics.

About Dogs Assisting Diabetics

The Forest Grove-based nonprofit was founded by dog trainer Kristin Tarnowski and Darlene LaRose Cain, a former national chair for the American Diabetes Association.

Since the organization launched in 2009, Tarnowski has trained more than 35 dogs to be service-alert dogs.

The dogs initially came from breeders, but Tarnowski recently started her own breeding program with registered Labrador retrievers so she can start training them as puppies.

(Kermit came from the Guide Dogs for the Blind breeding program but failed his final test).

The training process can take at least six months to one year.

To train the dogs, Tarnowski places a swab of sweat collected from a diabetic person whose glucose levels are high or low and puts it in a sealed vial.

When the dog approaches the vial and reacts to it, she rewards them with treats and affection.

“We’re getting the dog to think of it as a game and have fun of it,” Tarnowski says. “The dog gets excited and wants to keep looking for it.”

The dogs can smell a metabolic change that takes place when someone’s blood sugar changes, although researchers still aren’t sure exactly what the dogs detect.

The dogs cost $15,000 and are in high demand. Each year, Dogs Assisting Diabetics receives about 200 requests from people all over the world.

Priority goes to people who have a high medical need for the dog, such as those whose blood-sugar levels are high enough to require dialysis.

How it works

When Kiernan’s blood sugar levels veer away from normal levels – below 80 or above 180 milligrams per deciliter – Kermit alerts him in one of three ways.

The dog will paw at the boy’s leg or chew on an orange strip on his leash called a “brain cell.”

Kermit continues to alert until Kiernan acknowledges him with a treat. Then he can check his blood-sugar levels and treat them accordingly.

Because Kiernan’s blood sugar levels fluctuate so frequently, the family decided against a Continuous Glucose Monitor that alerts during changes in glucose levels, Michelle Sullivan says.

The monitor’s frequent sensors can become a nuisance for someone like Kiernan, who can drop from a normal blood sugar level down to 50 mg/dL after walking just a few blocks.

Properly trained service dogs can offer great value to people with diabetes, says Dr. Andrew Ahmann, director of the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at Oregon Health & Science University.

“I have no doubt that they can alert individuals who have low blood sugar at a time when the person themselves does not recognize the problem,” he says.

Since Kermit alerts Kiernan as soon as his blood sugar changes, he’ll know to check the levels sooner. He has less risk of reaching the dangerous highs or lows that can send him into a seizure.

Over time, that careful monitoring can help bring three-month blood sugar averages, called A1Cs, closer to normal range.

“That’s adding time to their life,” Tarnowski says. “High blood sugars contribute to blindness, limb loss or neuropathy.”

According to one study, one in 20 children will die in their sleep from low blood sugar levels.

Yet Ahmann cautions that little research is available that proves the dogs’ effectiveness in preventing severe hypoglycemia or in improving overall glucose control.

The dogs should never replace the use of blood sugar testing meters that provide accurate readings, he says.

“I don’t think the use of diabetic assistance dogs is a replacement for continue glucose monitoring or intermittent glucose monitoring,” Ahmann says, “but the dogs do provide another layer of security that is very important to kids and their families.”

For Kiernan’s mom, that furry security blanket is priceless.

“I know that Kermit isn’t 100 percent, but he’s at least given me an extra level, just an extra step of assurance,” she says. “I hope that Kiernan doesn’t have another seizure, but Kermit is just an extra layer of protection.”

If you want to help: The Sullivan family is struggling to pay for Kermit, who costs $15,000. So far, the family has paid $5,000 and is on a payment plan for the remaining amount.

The family has established a fundraising page on Youcaring.com called “Help Kiernan Bring Kermit home” that allows people to donate to his cause.

You can also donate to Dogs Assisting Diabetics at dogsassistingdiabetics.com.

Korean War vets honor hero horse

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Korean War Horse

Sgt. Joseph Latham, of the 5th Marine Division’s recoilless rifle platoon, trained Reckless during the Korean War. He also fed her scrambled eggs. Coca-Cola and occasionally whiskey in addition to her diet of barley, sorghum, hay and rice straw. On cold nights, Latham let Reckless into his tent to sleep next to the stove.

To Read More, CLICK HERE

 

 

 

Goats groom airport grounds while helping endangered species

Monday, July 15th, 2013
goatFor the past five years, San Francisco International Airport has brought in goats to clear brush near a runway to prevent fires and protect nearby homes. It’s an eco-friendly plan not only because machinery is not needed, but also because it allows the clearing to proceed without disturbing two endangered species. Goats R Us supplies some 400 goats as well as a herder and a border collie to keep them in line, and the crew takes about two weeks to clear the area. The Huffington Post/The Associated Press (7/5)

Passengers flying out of San Francisco International Airport recently might have caught a glimpse of something bizarre: goats munching away at overgrown weeds.Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice and nearly 400 other goats were chomping on brush as part of the airport’s unique – and environmentally friendly – approach to fire prevention.Airports are mini cities, often with their own firefighters, baristas, doctors and even priests.But goat herders?Brush in a remote corner of the airport property needs to be cleared each spring to protect nearby homes from potential fires. But machines or humans can’t be used because two endangered species – the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog – live there.So for the past five years, the airport has turned to Goats R Us, which charged $14,900 for the service this year.”When passengers takeoff and fly over the goats, I’m sure that’s a thrill,” said Terri Oyarzun, who owns and runs the goat-powered brush removal company with her husband Egon and their son Zephyr.The goats travel 30 miles each spring from their home in Orinda, Calif. to the airport in a 16-wheel truck that Oyarzun calls her “livestock limo.” With the help of a goat herder and a Border Collie named Toddy Lynn, the goats spend two weeks cutting away a 20-foot firebreak on the west side of the airport.When Oyarzun’s goats aren’t clearing brush at the airport, they are busy doing similar work on the side of California’s freeways, at state parks, under long-distance electric lines and anywhere else with overgrown vegetation. The family has about 4,000 total active goats.Working at an airport does come with its own set of challenges, namely loud, frightening jets constantly taking off.”There was an adjustment period,” Oyarzun said. “But they have a lot of confidence in their herder.”At least one other airport has taken note. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has requested bids for goats to clear brush in a remote area of the airport’s 7,000-acre property and expects a here to be at the airport sometime this summer.When goats become too old to work, they are typically sold for meat. But fear not, Mr. Fuzzy, Cookie, Mable, Alice won’t end up at the slaughterhouse. The Oyarzun family lets its goats peacefully retire at its farm.At least one part of air travel is still humane.

Baseball team’s special canine bat boy dies of lymphoma

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Chase the Bat DogChase the golden retriever entertained fans of the Trenton Thunder, a New York Yankees affiliate in New Jersey, for years before his death from lymphoma on Monday. The team and fans threw Chase a retirement and birthday party last week, and last month he was honored at Yankee Stadium. Chase is succeeded by one of his offspring, Derby, who’ll carry on the family tradition of retrieving bats, carrying water bottles to umpires and catching discs in the outfield. The team posted a tribute to Chase on its website.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — He doggedly did his work, this pinstriped pooch who faithfully served minor leaguers of the New York Yankees while providing big league entertainment.

Chase, the bat-retrieving golden retriever for the Double-A Trenton Thunder who made highlight reels all across baseball for a decade, has died at 13.

“Chase was there a long time. He put a lot of smiles on people’s faces,” Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, who played in Trenton, said Tuesday night.

“You know it’s going to be sad, but his lineage is carried on. You know it’s something that people are going to miss, but it was fun to be around Chase,” he said.

Chase lived just long enough to be thrown a retirement party by the Thunder last Friday night — featuring Chase bobbleheads, no less. The team said he died Monday.

Chase had been diagnosed in February with a form of lymphoma and had arthritis.

The Thunder’s website Tuesday featured a photo of their late mascot with a bat in his mouth and the caption, “In Loving Memory, Chase That Golden Thunder.”

His bat-retrieving legacy will live on with his son Derby, who continues to be part of the Thunder’s home game entertainment. Another son, Ollie, performs with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Chase made his debut with the Thunder in 2002. He would trot out in the bottom of the first inning to the batter’s box to pick up bats with his mouth and bring them back to the dugout. He also carried a woven basket with bottles of chilled water to the umpires and entertained fans by running down flying discs in the outfield.

At Friday’s celebration, which coincided with his birthday party, fans were encouraged to bring their dogs to the game.

Last month, he was also honored on the field at Yankee Stadium. Chamberlain petted Chase before the game and infielder David Adams came over to greet his old friend.

Adams recalled Chase retrieving his bat, doing it without leaving teeth marks in the wood.

“He’s not chomping at the bit,” Adams said then. “Or at the bat, either.”

Dogs of all shapes and sizes were at Trenton’s game Friday night against Reading, sitting in the stands with their owners. As fans filed in, Chase lounged on the grass outside the Thunder’s dugout on the first-base side.

A tribute to Chase’s career was shown on the video board. Chase was in position near the bench when Eduardo Nunez — who has since rejoined the Yankees — led off for Trenton in the bottom of the first inning. After the at-bat, Chase trotted out, picked up Nunez’s bat and returned to the dugout to a big cheer from the crowd.

Research reveals dogs of the Americas

Friday, July 12th, 2013

sled-viewInuit sled dogs and other Alaskan breeds are the only dogs with American origins, according to new research. Although the original canine stock has been traced to Asia, there is evidence of dogs in the Americas dating to 10,000 years ago, before transoceanic travel brought Europeans and their dogs to the continent. “Nobody knows exactly what happened,” researcher Peter Savolainen said. “Most probably migrated together with the humans that entered America from Asia via the Bering Strait. These humans became today’s Indians and Inuits.” The canines became Inuit sled dogs, the Greenland dog and the Eskimo dog, according to the research.

Alaskan breeds — such as Inuit sled dogs, the Eskimo dog and the Greenland dog — are the only canines with actual American roots, according to DNA analysis. All of these pooches hail from the 49th state and nearby areas, according to the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“They are all equally American,” co-author Peter Savolainen told Discovery News. “They originate from the indigenous Indian-American and Inuit dog populations, and have only marginally been mixed with European dogs in modern time.”

Savolainen, an associate professor at KTH-Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, explained the determination after tracing the origin of mitochondrial DNA lineages for several dog breeds suspected to be pre-Columbian, meaning before Europeans settled in the Americas. Dogs inherit their mitochondrial DNA from their mothers.

Alaska’s Denali National Park uses sled dogs to patrol its 6 million acres of Arctic terrain.Scientists widely agree that the original stock of all canines worldwide originated from Asia. This is similar to the widely agreed-upon view that all members of our species originated in Africa before some people left that continent.

“There was a single origin of the domestic dog somewhere in Eurasia,” Savolainen explained. “The exact place is still debated, but our previous studies strongly indicate the southern part of East Asia, basically southern China.”

The earliest archaeological evidence for dogs in the Americas dates to around 10,000 years ago, long before the dawn of transoceanic travel in the 15th century that saw the arrival of Columbus and other Europeans.

Most U.S. dogs today, however, have European origins. Golden retrievers, poodles and many more breeds fall into this category.

Inuit sled dogs, the Eskimo dog and the Greenland dog, though, show no European heritage in their genes. Like Native Americans, they were in the United States and nearby areas long before Europeans arrived.

“Nobody knows exactly what happened,” Savolainen said. “Most probably migrated together with the humans that entered America from Asia via the Bering Strait. These humans became today’s Indians and Inuits.”

“Our data shows dogs came in several migrations, at least one with the Indian-American ancestors and at least one with the Inuit ancestors,” he continued.

The result for Alaskan Malamutes was ambiguous, but these dogs appear to come from slightly different stock originating in Siberia, Japan, China and Indonesia. The Alaskan husky and the American Eskimo dog have a known origin from Siberian spitzes and European dogs.

The dogs with the most pre-Columbian Mexican heritage, according to the study, are the Chihuahua and Xolo (Mexican hairless dog).

The researchers additionally determined that a group of free-ranging dogs based in South Carolina and Georgia — known as Carolina Dogs — likely have an ancient Asian origin.

Carolina Dogs might have once been associated with a Native American tribe, the canine’s relatives turning feral once their humans disappeared.

“The reason might be that the human population keeping these dogs was wiped out when Europeans came,” Savolainen said.

Prior research by Sarah Brown of UC Davis and colleagues is consistent with the latest findings about the Inuit sled dog, Eskimo dog and Greenland dog. Brown and her team found “ancient DNA evidence for genetic continuity in arctic dogs.”

Scientists hope to use such DNA studies and other research on dogs to learn more about past human migrations. From at least 10,000 years onward, wherever migrating humans went, dogs often came too.

Veterinarians make sure D.C. working dogs are in shape

Friday, July 12th, 2013

police k9 dog insigniaVeterinarians at Fort Belvoir in Virginia have kept a keen eye on working dogs — including those that watch over airports, the White House, the Capitol and other locations — for two decades. Routine preventive care as well as treatment for health problems are some of the issues addressed by veterinarian Nancy Vincent-Johnson and her colleagues at the clinic.

By , for the Washington Post

The waiting room is comfortably cool, but the mood is slightly tense. That’s because the patients who seek treatment at this clinic on the grounds of Fort Belvoir are a breed apart from many who seek medical care on the base.

The giveaway?

 The dog-biscuit jar on the reception desk.

For more than 20 years, the squat, red brick building at Fort Belvoir is where the D.C. region’s law enforcement dogs — the ones who patrol airports, the Capitol, the White House and other high-profile locations — have been taken for care.

The region is home to one of the biggest concentrations of working dogs in the country, officials say. Canines from the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, Amtrak and the U.S. Capitol Police come here for their yearly checkups. The dogs are a variety of breeds — German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Belgian Malinois, even beagles.

“I have nothing but good things to say,’’ said Sgt. Kevin Murphy, who heads the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s K-9 Unit at Dulles International Airport. “They help keep our dogs healthy.”

During the swelter of Washington’s summer, clinic workers have traveled to Dulles to conduct special sessions on spotting heatstroke and exhaustion. During the winter, handlers may receive training on spotting frostbite and hypothermia.

Belvoir’s veterinarians, a mix of civilian and military personnel, understand the special needs of their patients. These working dogs may suffer from ailments not necessarily seen in their civilian counterparts. Sometimes it’s back trouble from all their leaping into trucks and cargo hatches. Their joints can suffer strain from the same jumping. Hip dysplasia — a condition caused by improperly formed hip joints — is another common ailment.

And like the jobs held by people, the dogs’ work can be stressful, with long hours and large crowds, said veterinarian Nancy Vincent-Johnson, a 21-year Army veteran who retired and rejoined the clinic as a civilian.

Take Igor, a 9-year-old German shepherd who works for the Capitol Police. Vincent-Johnson said she had squeezed Igor, whose specialty is explosives detection, in between appointments because he has been having intestinal issues. His weight is down, and his handler says Igor — Iggy to his intimates — is just not himself.

Vincent-Johnson strokes Igor’s rich black and brown coat as she examines him, feeling the area around his rib cage and gently lifting his impressively large paws. Igor stands patiently as she moves her stethoscope along his midsection and his handler summarizes the shepherd’s symptoms.

“Maybe the food he’s on is too rich,” Vincent-Johnson theorizes. She consults Igor’s chart and notes that blood work done during his previous visit indicated a Vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to a type of anemia that brings on weakness and fatigue.

The poking and prodding complete, Igor settles on the floor and lets out a deep sigh.

The doctor prescribes special food for dogs with intestinal issues and a series of shots to help with the B12 deficiency.

There is now good news: Igor has put on weight — six pounds since his last visit — so the hope is that whatever is ailing him will soon be cured.

Igor’s handler leaves the office with a large bag of dog food and several bottles of medicine. Igor gets a doggie treat as a reward.

One room away, the doctor’s next patient waits with his handler, Inspector Alexandra Hassler. Upton is a TSA dog specializing in passenger screening and experienced in sniffing out explosives.

The 4-year-old black Labrador is here for the first of two physicals he’ll have this year. As part of that, Vincent-Johnson will run him through a full exam, testing his peripheral vision by waving her hands at the side of his head, eyeing his gait as he walks down the sidewalk and drawing blood for a full screening.

“His ears look good,” she says. Upton is an enthusiastic patient, eager to sniff and show approval by licking the doctor’s arm. His friskiness belies his status as one of the oldest of the TSA dogs working at Dulles. He’s also observant: Only a few minutes into the exam, he’s figured out that on the shelf that holds the jars of tongue depressors and cotton balls is one that holds crunchy treats. He can’t take his eyes off the shelf.

Vincent-Johnson says Upton is healthy. The one exception: his left back teeth. “He may need some dental work,” Vincent-Johnson tells Hassler.

Finally, Upton’s enthusiasm is rewarded. A treat flies through the air and disappears into his mouth.