Alice and the Cheshire Cat…
Lewis Carroll’s 1866 novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” features a feline whose image and persona reach far beyond the book it’s most famous for. In fact, the idea of a Cheshire Cat and the focus on its smile can be traced back nearly 80 years before Carroll’s masterpiece was penned. Sly, overflowing with style, always flashing its iconic grin — the Cheshire embodies everything we expect from a cool cat, and seems to be the only one who truly understands the nonsensical nature of Wonderland.
Q: On the subject of Thanksgiving, would you mind giving me a rundown on the potential menu pitfalls for my four-legged kids?
A: While Thanksgiving is a great occasion for family, food, and football, it carries the risk of being a gastrointestinal disaster for our pets. Any dish served during the meal should be included on our danger list. Turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, yams, mashed potatoes, green beans, salads, cranberry sauce, apple pie, pumpkin pie, ice cream — any of these (and others I may have missed), either due to their ingredients or the amount ingested, have the potential to be harmful. Fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Onions and garlic can cause the red blood cell of the dog to lyse (erupt and die). Nuts contain an unknown toxin to dogs. Salty foods can cause renal disease and electrolyte imbalances. And sweets? Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine both of which are cardiotoxic to dogs. Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, is also known to be cardiotoxic to dogs. Additionally, pet owners must be aware of the potential dangers both grapes and raisins pose to dogs as they too can cause acute renal failure.
Finally, like the dishes listed above, any non-traditional canine or feline foods, especially those fed in an unusually high quantity, have the potential to cause great harm to our furry companions: vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, inappetence, lethargy, anemia, or even, renal failure. Treatment may range from outpatient detoxification to prolonged hospitalization.
Remember, the list here of possible toxins is lengthy, but by no means complete. It serves to highlight some of the more likely pitfalls this holiday brings with it. The lesson? Listen to your mother and do not feed your pets at the table. Ever. A well meaning act that could lead to an animal’s toxicosis can easily be avoided. Have fun, and happy Thanksgiving!
The New York Times reports that the modern canine may have originated in Asia, 15,000 years ago…
Where do dogs come from?
Gray wolves are their ancestors. Scientists are pretty consistent about that. And researchers have suggested that dogs’ origins can be traced to Europe, the Near East, Siberia and South China.
Central Asia is the newest and best candidate, according to a large study of dogs from around the world.
Laura M. Shannon and Adam R. Boyko at Cornell University, and an international group of other scientists, studied not only purebred dogs, but also street or village dogs — the free-ranging scavengers that make up about 75 percent of the planet’s one billion dogs.
Dr. Shannon analyzed three different kinds of DNA, Dr. Boyko said, the first time this has been done for such a large and diverse group of dogs, more than 4,500 dogs of 161 breeds and 549 village dogs from 38 countries. That allowed the researchers to determine which geographic groups of modern dogs were closest to ancestral populations genetically. And that led them to Central Asia as the place of origin for dogs in much the same way that genetic studies have located the origin of modern humans in East Africa.
The analysis, Dr. Boyko said, pointed to Central Asia, including Mongolia and Nepal, as the place where “all the dogs alive today” come from. The data did not allow precise dating of the origin, he said, but showed it occurred at least 15,000 years ago. They reported their findings Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Greger Larson of Oxford University, who is leading an international effort to analyze ancient DNA from fossilized bones, said he was impressed by the scope of the study. “It’s really great to see not just the sheer number of street dogs, but also the geographic breadth and the number of remote locations where the dogs were sampled,” he said. He also praised the sampling of different kinds of DNA and the analytic methods.
But in the world of dog studies, very little is definitive. The most recent common ancestor of today’s dogs lived in Central Asia, Dr. Boyko said, although he cannot rule out the possibility that some dogs could have been domesticated elsewhere and died out. Or dogs domesticated elsewhere could have gone to Central Asia from somewhere else and then diversified into all the canines alive today, he said.