Monday, August 08, 2011

The role of dogs in Human evolution

This week-end following the conversations we were having about Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species, Me and my son went to visit the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Botanical Garden of Lisbon.

Lisbon Natural History Museum

On this visit we reflect on various aspects of the creation of the solar system, the emergence of life on Earth, evolution to dinosaurs (a subject that always fascinates children)

dinosaurs on Lisbon Natural History Museum

mass extinction of dinosaurs, evolution of mammals, and of course human evolution and the role of man's best friend, the dog in our evolution.

In our days it is believed that wasn't man who approached the wolf, but the wolves that followed the human groups to take advantage of the debris produced and often not consumed.


As the proximity of the two species were kept, the more likely situation is that the wolves became more docile and trusting, thus ignoring, the basic instincts. Animals that remained with the human groups, had more success in finding food, and therefore to reproduce and keep their young.

From the step to approach human beings and the first adoption that challenged the laws of the natural world, where humans and wolves competed as predators, we can only guess what happened.

wolf in a human group

With the domestication and adoption of wolves within the human group it is believed to have formed a symbiotic relationship where the Wolf received food, shelter and care from humans, and humans received protection and companionship, which evolves into a mutual aid in the hunt and later in other activities such as herding.

The man really helped in domestication by selecting the most pleasing docile animals and eliminating those with wild characteristics.
The Wolf, is thought to have contributed to man evolution by eliminating the man's need to develop physical senses, like smell to hunt. Also the use of Wolf, or probably at this point we can designate as dog , as a guard and herder, have actually contributed to the domestication of livestock, that in addition to sedentary agriculture, eliminate our physical characteristics required for hunting and fighting.

cave painting of a man with a dog

Archaeology has placed the earliest known domestication at potentially 30,000 BC in Belgium, and with certainty at 7,000 BC.
But it seems that Wolf domestication is older than the archaeological record so far found.

As the human migrated around the world, their dogs migrated with them. Changes to agricultural and urban areas have led to new selections and specializations, such as search and delivery of items, saving people, police dogs, etc. With the new selection was a new specialization of different types of dogs that best suited human needs.

immigrants with their dogs

Kennel clubs appeared in the middle of the 19th century as a way to regulate the various breeds, that already existed and were used in competitions.

one of the first dog show

Today these Kennel Clubs defines the dog breeds standard, which everyone recognizes.

Wolves, ancestors of our dogs have been since the Middle Ages, targeted has demons and systematically exterminated, witch almost led to the disappearance of these magnificent animals.

Let us pray that the future has room for a new harmony between man and wolf.

comparison of a wolf and dog paw

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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The prehistoric dog

Charles Darwin
Not long ago I caught a documentary on BBC about our friend Charles Darwin and his famous theory The Origin of Species.

What is now regarded as obvious at the time gave rise much controversy and disbelief.

But now reflecting on the origin of species, I wonder ... "and our canine friends, how is the tree of evolution?

Ok, doing a little web research and photo summary, I found the following theory of evolution:

Mammals evolution tree:

Mammals evolution tree

1) The directly ancestral to all later canids is Hesperocyon


(about 40 to 35 million years ago)

2)Immediately follows the Leptocyon, considered a cousin.


(about 40 to 35 million years ago)

3) Descending immediate from Leptocyon comes Eucyon


(about 6 million years ago)

It is believed that the first dogs are descendants of Eucyon therefore deserves a comparison with the wolf.


4) One of the first wolves is believed to have lived and competed directly with the large cave lions and saber tooth tigers, and it is called Dire Wolf

Dire Wolf

(about 2 to 10 million years ago)

5) The oldest dog skull discovered to date is from Goyet Cave, Belgium with 31,700 years old.
They are clearly different from wolves and is thought to be a transition from wolf to dog.

prehistoric dog fossil

In the end, only a theory of evolution from the wolf (Canis lupus) to the dog (Canis lupus familiaris) can be imagined.

dog evolution

Multiple and Ancient Origins of the Domestic Dog

Mitochondrial DNA control region sequences were analyzed from 162 wolves at 27 localities worldwide and from 140 domestic dogs representing 67 breeds. Sequences from both dogs and wolves showed considerable diversity and supported the hypothesis that wolves were the ancestors of dogs. Most dog sequences belonged to a divergent monophyletic clade sharing no sequences with wolves. The sequence divergence within this clade suggested that dogs originated more than 100,000 years before the present. Associations of dog haplotypes with other wolf lineages indicated episodes of admixture between wolves and dogs. Repeated genetic exchange between dog and wolf populations may have been an important source of variation for artificial selection.


Canid phylogeny tree

Canid phylogeny tree

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back Stage of a Dog Show

1º Chapter “Planning”

This time I decided to do an exhaustive report and exam of what it cost to plan and then go to a Dog Show. I hope in the end the reader can understand what it takes to work and show dogs and all the effort and sacrifice necessary to do it.

So let’s start for the beginning.

1º Choosing to go or not to the Dog Show

Well this Dog Show is the first of 3 exhibits were a dog can win the Champion title or if you prefer the CAC-QC.
So it is natural to make an extra effort to go or you will lose your chance.

I will not bother you saying what I did and what I didn’t do to join the amount necessary to go to this dog show. I will just say that after a lot of analyzing and thinking the decision to go was taken.

2º Planning the time and costs

The next step is to take an idea of time and cost it will take to arrive to the dog show.
At this case, since I am in Algarve and I must go to Porto, it will be something like 7h drive with 3 stop of about 20-30 min for people and dogs to rest and walk a bit, distance 562 km

The Toll will be around 37.55 EUR and Petrol 51.69 EUR

Since I have to go and come back I put 200 EUR – 14h drive just to do this trip

3º Firs preparation - CAR

Since it is a long way I decided to do a full check up to my car, to be prepare and not have surprises (imagine to be broken on the road with 3 dogs). This was a cost of about 165 €

4º Now to pay the dog show and send our inscription in the first deed line

1 hour in the post office and 65 €

5º Find a place to sleep

Since I am not that crazy, make 14 h drive without a rest it is out of the question. So I asked a friend if I could sleep over the night before the dog show and since she kindly said yes, one less expense and something less to be stress about.

Ok this is the first steps for preparing to a dog show and everything is on the move !

2º Chapter “List of Items”

Continuing our last week topic with the Planning of a Dog Show, we now go to do a list of items that we need to take and buy to that dog show.

1º Cleaning the Dogs

Well I think this is the real bases of presenting your dog, the bath.
Since this is a very long trip and I will work full time, this time I decided to ask some professional help to clean my dogs.

But usually this means buying shampoo, conditioner and softener. And be prepare to spend 3 to 4 hours preparing each dog.

In each case I always take with me cleaning towels (the some we use on babies) and conditioner to give shine to the fur before we enter the ring.

Brushes, combs and scissors are always mandatory items to take.

List: shampoo, softener, conditioner, cleaning towels, brushes, combs and scissors

2º Trip safety

I always take a medicine kit with me (I learned that with a dear friend and dog lover), because with dogs we never know and it isn’t the first time they step on something and get hurt.

So before I go I always check if it has all necessary items for the dogs and for people.

List: dressings, gauze, disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, bandages, aspirin, cotton, alcohol

3º Food, Water and Drinks

Ok, you might think, I will buy something or off course we must take food.

But for me it is always a planning ahead since not all food are proper to take for quick or trip meals and you should always take plenty of water and some juices for you, since a dog show is a very long hours standing on your feet.

I also think that an exhibit food, is expensive and isn’t 100 % safe and becoming ill isn’t part of my plans.

Also if you spend a night out, you must take food for your dogs and of course this is mandatory.
Since I also worry with the long hours my dogs are on travel and sometimes waiting to get in, I also take some treats to keep they interested and happy.

List: sandwiches, juice, water, food for dogs, cookies, fruit, biscuits, coffee, treats,…

Ok this is my list of what I have to check and stock before I go on my way

3º Chapter “Final Preparations”

Continuing our last two weeks topics with the start at the Planning of a Dog Show, following List of Items necessary to take to a Dog Show we now go to the last details before we get in the car and go.

1º Training

As you can guess, at this time we already have some weeks of intense ring or handling training.

The main, in my opinion, is to make the dogs stay on the stand position for a long time and this has to be trained several times.

2º Clothe

Since I handle and show my dogs I have to be careful in choosing the clothes. If necessary it has to be send to the cleaner.

I start to use a different outfit out of the ring and during the trip.

3º Leashes, coolers and dog bowls

Yes yes it is straight forward ... but I once forgot the leashes and was quite upset with myself.
So has soon I can I put on my trip bag. Also take an extra leash just in case one breaks.

4º Sleeping bag and blankets

One of the pleasures of sleeping out of the house is to use the sleeping bag and make an adventure from that.

The blankets is for the dogs to have their one sleeping place and to cover the boxes at the exhibit if and unnecessary noise.

5º Money and Documents

At this stage is to put the necessary amount and dogs, car and exhibit documents at our travel bag.

Don’t forget to check if all vaccines are up to date.

6º Fuel

Fill the car deposit on the day before and you avoid that extra minutes at the beginning of the trip.

Ok, now it is just go to the road and bring lots of prizes.

4º Chapter“Dog Show”

Continuing our last three weeks topics with the start at the Planning of a Dog Show, following List of Items necessary to take to a Dog Show, and finally Final Preparations we now go to the event itself.

As you can imagine a seven hour drive trip is not easy and when we drive alone, more difficult it becomes. But having dogs with you make thinks more enjoyable since you have to stop more times, walk with them and give them water, so in the end, the trip seams more light and enjoyable.

Anyway, like I said in the beginning of this set of posts, the main goal of this dog show is to achieve the long desired C.A.C.-Q.C. that give us, together with three C.A.C. the most wanted title of Champion of Portugal (CH PT) and so this dog show is extra important, since is one of three along the year that give us that chance.

Of course this means that everyone that desires the title, is there to try also to win, and that creates more competition and more difficult to get it.

For my enormous joy, Angel, my Red Merle Australian Shepherd was one of the ones granted with this prize and therefore she is now Champion of Portugal.

And like in all of this important occasions a special thanks to some people is in order.

To our veterinarian, Dr. José Carlos of Zoolagos, that has the patience for all my questions and naughty behavior of my four leg children.

To our handling teacher, Joana Gonçalves, that has the patience to keep teaching and incentive me to continue going to this events.

To our training center, CIC Lagos, where my Angel goes to take out her stress and enormous energy.

And finally to this occasion washer and groomer that took the mud and dirt out of my dogs (and this time they were really dirty) Mr. Carlos Alves from Myfriend Petshop.

And finally I personally give a thank you to God who grant me the pleasure of sharing my live with this small four leg people who stand everything of their owner.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The importance of writing a blog

Image source

I am being confronted, specially in the dog breeding area, about the importance and impact of writing a blog.

I hope with this article to show to lovers and friends of our four leg pets what is the importance and best points in writing and having a blog.

  • 1º Opportunity

A blog provides to people the opportunity to show and show their work.
In the search in showing more they also have an incentive and motivation in continuing and improving the work they have done.

  • 2º Advertise

I imagine a blog as a newspaper, where we publish every week the latest news about work work or area of interested.

  • 3º Distribution

Since a blog it is a newspaper it is also important to distribute it in several communities and give several different people the opportunity to read and know your articles.
Communities like DIHITT, PTNOTICIAS, DIGG, MIXX, offer this king of audience and permit to advertise and get readers to our articles.
Some communities like DIHITT, have a speaking Portuguese audience with na high level of interaction.

  • 4º Write in English

Yes, I am Portuguese and like most Portuguese I love to read and write in my birth language, but is it enough? I think the answer is obviously not and since English is the recognized universal language it is also evident that we should try to use it.
At this moment my blog was seen in 31 different countries and I feel a little pride about that achievement.

  • 5º Expense

The expense is very low or none, since there is the opportunity to create free blogs. I think the worst is the time and enough dedication required to update and create original In my case I always try to be unique and it is the planning and work around the article that gives me pleasure.

  • 6º Feedback

Since the blog is a fast tool to create and submit new articles, receive comments and analyse searches and views, it is also a fast way to provide readers feedback about our work.

Friends, breeder, owners and in the end four leg lovers, try to teach, learn and in the end to be more. Maybe that way we can start having conscience owners, responsible breeders and much more people interested to have more then a simple pet and therefore to create more opportunities to have more people working with our beloved long time companions, the dogs.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Dogs and Children

dogs and children

A) Bring a Dog to a family with children

Many people think that to have children automatically gives them a good reason to have a dog, and they are right, it is a very good reason, but can’t be the only reason.

Children that grow up with pets, leaving and passing time with them, are proven to be more responsible, less selfish and happier out going children.

This is definitely a good reason to have a dog, but what happens when children loose interest or change their attention to something else? Well this is why we can’t bring a dog to our homes just thinking about our children, but also thinking that the dog is our responsibility and it is our family member and therefore is with us that he/she will stay until the end of their natural life.

Ok, now that we have in mind that the dog will be with us and will be our family member, what is the right way to make then relate to children? The first thing I do is a speech with my son and I explain all that is involved in having a puppy dog:

dogs and children

1)the toys that will be destroyed if he isn’t careful with then

2) the house that will be dirty and he has to help in cleaning

3) the way he has to deal with the dog without hurting but being also firm

4) the places were the dog is allowed to go

5) the feeding time that it is off limits to my son

6) the time he has to spend playing and going out with the dog

7) the money and therefore the sacrifices he has to make in not asking for some things to be bought

Ok, now that we all agree with the points before, it is important to keep them and respect them. My son is now 6 years, but since the age of 3 he makes tasks at home related with the dogs (a good way to take him out of the tv and video games) and we have days of the week to training and taking the dogs in walks.

dogs and childrenI also make a point to celebrate the special occasions, like Birthdays and Christmas, with my dogs to remind my son that they are family members also very important to be reminding off.

Dogs are social members and so they know by instinct how to live in group. In order to respect children has high group members, the children must be taught to respect dogs, to not scream at them, not hit them or throw things at then. A calm and, most of the times, natural going way around dogs is the most advisable way from them to interact.

I am also adding to this, that at this point of my life I already change house 3 times and pass through 3 jobs and a divorce. In any time my dogs were in question and they are always considered in any decision I take.

B) Children and strange dogs on the streetdogs and children

When a child grows up with a dog starts to thing that every dog on the street is like the one he has at home. This is something that we must teach in early age, not to touch or play with dogs that we don’t know or haven’t be introduce to.

The proper way is to ask the parent and the owner if it is ok, and then to show the back of the hand to the dog, let him smell and in the end to pet him on the side.

Only dogs with leash or with the owner near him are allowed dogs to my son to ask to pet and possibly play.

The games with strange dogs don’t include lay down on the ground, throw things at the dog, bend over the dog or to clime in any way to the dog. Dogs must be respected!

At home I never let my son alone with the dogs and in every occasion I always tell him to not hurt, scream or throw objects at the dogs. He likes to play fetch with the dogs and this is allowed with my supervision, since my dogs are big and can hurt my son in the middle of the excitement.

dogs and childrenC) Bring a baby into a family with dogs

When a couple has a dog and decides to have a baby they must realize that the time will be shorter, the routine will be different, the responsibility will be grater and the money will be less, but the dog must not be in any moment a variable to be discarded.

The first thing we must do at home is to start to limit the dog to the space that will belong to the baby. That way, months before, he will not strange when the baby comes and he will not be allowed to enter in some rooms.

Next is to realize that the 2 months before birth and 3 months after birth the mother will have her time full with the small baby and therefore, the other partner has to do more to take care of his four leg friend.

Finally, babies aren’t toys and therefore shouldn’t be neglected or left unattended anywhere at the house and specially around animals or strange people. It is our obligation to look after our children and if something happens to them it is mainly our fault and definitely not our pet fault that didn’t ask for such a strange thing to come to their life.

Babies don’t smell like people, don’t look like people and definitely don’t sound like people. Even if our pet identifies a baby like a puppy, will treat like one and most of the things like grabbing, screaming, biting and walk away isn’t allowed on puppies and the mother grab them by their necks to punish or bring them closer, something that doesn’t do well with babies.

It is in our hands to teach both dogs and children to share their life’s and respect each other, sharing space and the group.

child walking with Golden Retriever
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Some tips to prepare an Australian Shepherd for a special event

I will give in this article some hints that I use to prepare one of my dogs for a special occasion like a dog show or a visit to children.

The brushes and combs are essential for the removal of the sub-hair and release the fur.

These are the 2 scissors that I use to trim the hair and keep it strait. Both scissors and combs must be careful handled to not hurt the dog.The best way to train a dog is to praise and reward a lot and the experience will be good for both dog and owner.


Personally I like to give bath in the bathtub with warm water.

If I am in the summer I first use bug shampoo, then normal shampoo, and finally soft conditioner.

In winter I only use normal shampoo and soft conditioner.

The most important is to pass a lot of water to clean all shampoo and conditioner traces.


After drying well with the towel dry well with drier.

The Aussies are dry brushing horizontally back and the Goldens are dry brushing vertically down.

There are some products on the market that give brightness / smell to the hair. I apply this before to be well dried and then I finish drying.


The ears I choose to trim inside cutting the long hair, around to get I neat look and behind to bee neat with the collar.

The paws I trim the hair in the middle of the cushions, around toes and behind until the finger that is on the top.

This picture is the usual fan shape that I push and trim behind the front paw.

The back paw I trim to be strait.

The tail is not usual in Aussies, so I choose to do like in Goldens leaving a nice fan shape.

In the back, middle of legs, beneath I push and trim the hair to be round without points.

In the end we have a nice looking dog.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Receiving a new puppy

golden retriever puppy
There are few points that we must consider when we receive anew puppy in our home.
1) Receiving

When a puppy enters in an unknown home he feels a crash, since he left the known environment to a total strange one, without the dog family elements that he know.

His welcome must be warm and we must remember that we are dealing with a leaving bean that needs understanding.

My advice is that in the first two nights the owner stays with the puppy during the night at his sleeping place. This will get him to feel comfortable and knows the owner and the home..

I also advice to spend at least two days with the puppy and leave him alone for short periods of time.

australian shepherd puppy
2) Presentation

If there are other residents in your home, like cats, dogs, children … ,the presentation must be gradual and always in the owner presence.
Introducing to children, must also be slowly and gradual, since the puppy in in growing stage and any injuring may be a defect for the rest of his life.

Never live them alone without supervising !

golden retriever puppy

3) Feeding

The bolds should be inox for three reasons, avoid destruction, there last longer and must more easy to keep clean.

The puppy should go to the new family with a sac of ration that usually eats. To introduce a different food, this must be gradually, since puppies are very sensitive to food changes-

The introduction starts with a few grains in a mug full during a week. Then 10 %, plus is ration. After 15 % … And so on until total replacement.

The number of meals until he reaches 6 months should be at least 2 and in the max 4.

O número de refeições até aos 6 meses deve ser entre no mínimo 2 e no máximo 4.

Never leave the food at his disposal!

Try always to feed the puppy after you have eaten and then remove the mug. This is enforcement for your owner position.

Always leave plenty of water at his disposal!

4) Hygiene

In order to schedule is needs the meals should be at regular ours.

Also you should brush the fear regularly so to keep in good conditions and avoid to many baths. The brushing is a way to increase the relation between owner-dog !

australian shepherd puppy
5) Veterinarian

Always follow the dates to vaccine your pet and to make parasites prevention!

Keep inform about the best ways to protect annual your pet.

The puppy should not go out or take a bath until all vaccine taken.

australian shepherd puppy
6) Entertainment

If the puppy is going to be kept alone for some period of time always leave some toys that allows him to play and bite (be careful with plastics).

To leave the radio or TV on can also help your puppy to feel least alone.

Keep some specials toys, like balls, for only when you play with your dog. This help to strong your relation with your dog.

7) Out

After all vaccination done you are going to want to take your puppy to all the paces were you go.

Always use a leach and collar with identification. Even in places that seam more isolated, keep the leach at hand, since its use is mandatory and avoid conflicts with people/dogs.

australian shepherd puppy
Respect the space of other dogs and persons!

Take with you bags to catch your dog droppings. Respect the space that is for all of us!

Inside the car use a proper leach or a net to keep your dog in a restricted area.

golden retriever puppy

8) Rules

All leaving beans that leave in socity need rules to keep a good relation between each member.

Try to create some rules, that all family respect, to create a clear and pleasent enviroment for your puppy.

a) Sleep – Create a space, like a bed or crate, for your puppy to sleep. Respect the space, keep the children far away and not use it to punish.

b) meals – The meals should be taken in a pre-stabelish regular schedule, where the owners eat first and right after the dog.

c) Hygine – Teach your puppy to releaf in pre-estabelish place. The place can have newspapper, send, ... Do not force him to wait a very long time to go out. Create a SCHEDULE! They are leaving BEANS!

d) Interdiction – Create barries (like a board) that define place that he can’t access in the house. This rule must be resoected for all family members!

e) Repreending – Many repremends can be made just with a strong NO and a isolated punishment. Be consistent and maintain the pusishment for several minuts for him to UNDERSTAND!

australian shepherd puppy
f) Arriving home – For your puppy to learn not to jump on people, ignore this behavior and make your routine until he calms down. After he IS quite for a few minutes call him and great him strongly.

7) Exercise – All dogs need exercise, but depending on the breed (study this characteristic) this can be greater or less. Any way a daily walk is good for your dog and you.

8) Teach – All dogs can and should be teach, at least the basic concepts, like NO, STAY and SEAT.
Try to teach understanding your dog needs and without physical punishment. Consult professionals !

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