feral dogs

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It doesn't take dogs long to become feral. Those strong enough to survive without owners quickly revert to default mode, roaming in packs, scavenging, and breeding. In the six months since the March 11 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, hundreds of former pet dogs are running loose in the no-entry zone around Fukushima, producing litters that ar

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even more feral than the original dogs. Officials worry the dogs will spread diseases to people. It just goes to show how artificial a pet dog is, especially a purebred. There are around 400 dog breeds in the world, every one of them maintained by selective breeding. These breeds would vanish after a single litter if left to their own devices. After several generations, there would be no recognizable dog breeds at all, the mutts would resemble typical “village dogs”: curs with yellowish fur and a black muzzle, or splotchy colored short-legged dogs. If left alone long enough, evolution turns them homogenous, such as the dingos in Australia. The dingo is certainly not the sort of dog most people would want to dress in sailor outfits or pamper with facials and gourmet cakes.

Some feral dogs are aggressive, forming menacing packs, while others are benign scavengers, with garbage dumps as their “natural habitat”. If all dogs were “default dogs” or “village dogs” it's doubtful they'd be popular pets, let alone regarded as fur-kids worthy of expensive medical care and such. yet these canines are much more of a REAL dog than say, a golden retriever is. When most people think of a “dog”, they think of a Platonic image, a popular purebred (or first generation mixed breed) fetching the paper and sleeping by the hearth. But this is a facade.

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Wildlife isn’t fooled by dogs

While many people are besotted fools for dogs, wildlife and other animals aren’t so easily duped. Dogs are routinely sprayed by skunks, stabbed by porcupines, bitten by rattlesnakes, squeezed by pythons, stomped by moose, pummeled by deer, carried off by eagles, attacked by raccoons, stung by bees, swatted by cats, kicked by horses, butted by goats, gored by wild boar, hissed at by swans, and eaten by alligators and catfish.

Yes, catfish! Giant catfish will scarf down small
dogs. The clueless owner throws a stick into a murky river, their small dog cluelessly swims in after it, and suddenly a huge gaping mouth emerges, and the dog is gone, along with the stick. I read about this hilarious scenario in Ideas and Discoveries, a science magazine. I know as a personal fact about a dog that was carried off by a bird of prey. This is no urban legend: A familty friend was walking her tiny chihuahua in the front yard when a large bird, (eagle or hawk) swooped down and carried it off.

Coyotes will kill dogs of all sizes. One memorable instance involved a dog running off leash ahead of its owner. The dog was equipped with a GPS device attached to the collar, so the owner could keep tabs on it. The whippet-type breed ran out of sight, but no worries, not with the GPS! When the owner caught up to her dog, several coyotes were hunched over its body. Hey, at least the GPS still worked!

The dog’s nose: so WHAT.

Dog lovers are obsessed with various dog body parts, namely the tail, paws, and nose. Boy do they rave about that nose; no dog book is complete without bowing down at the altar of the canine nose. A dog’s sense of smell is anywhere from 50 to 100,000 times more acute than ours, depending on which expert is consulted. I say, “So what?”

Moths and sharks have a better sense of smell than do dogs; in fact, most of a shark’s brain is devoted to the olfactory center. Sharks are efficient hunters, but not very bright. If a lot of brain space is devoted to sniffing, this doesn’t leave much room for thinking. A dog brain weighs about 3 1/2 ounces, a goodly portion of which is taken over by the olfactory center.

Left to their own devices, what do dogs do with their “better than human” sense of smell? They sniff out urine, poop, garbage, and butts. Only when mankind intervenes is the nose put to useful purposes. These purposes, drug detection, cadaver searches, etc. are mythologized by dog lovers, as if the dog is a super hero with special powers. In reality, the dogs can’t fathom why in the world they are sniffing around airports or rubble piles; to them it’s all just mindless sniffing for the handler’s reward of a treat or chew toy. Nor is the dog nose infallible; cadaver dogs mistake rotting tree stumps for decaying bodies. Certain sniffer dog evidence has been thrown out of court because the claims made about its abilities were just too outlandish.

A dog nose is cold, wet, and bear-like; pretty gross in my opinion. Yet dog fans think it’s cute. They will pay for a 24k gold impression of their dog’s nose print to wear it as jewelry!

A dog’s nose is basically overrated. The vast majority of dog noses aren’t out there looking for missing people or bombs, but rather sticking it in someone’s crotch.