Black Dog Syndrome, the real or imagined idea that black dogs are the most often killed and the last adopted from shelters, may have origins in ancient folklore.
According to British folklore, during the 16th century Black Shuck, an enormous devil dog, terrorized East Anglia. Black Shuck is described as seven feet tall with flaming red eyes and shaggy black hair.
Black Shuck first appeared during a storm in 1577 at the Holy Trinity Church in Suffolk. Suddenly a huge clap of thunder caused the church doors to burst open and a snarling black dog rushed in, killing a man and a boy before the steeple crashed through the roof. The dog fled leaving scorch marks from his claws on the church door which appear to this day.
Later that day he struck again at a church 12 miles away, killing two more worshippers as the storm raged on.
Black devil dogs have appeared often in folklore, sometimes dragging chains, sometimes with no heads or with human faces. Often they walk on their hind legs and dissolve into the mist.
Earlier this year remains of what appear to be a male dog, standing seven feet tall and weighing 200 pounds were discovered during a dig at Leiston Abbey in Suffolk.
Experts are now carrying out carbon dating tests to determine if these bones could go back to the 16th century and answer the question: did Black Shuck exist in flesh and blood...or only in folklore.
The narrator, 25-year-old Diana Salvi, has just landed her dream job as director of communications for a well-funded animal shelter in Boston.
At first she tries to establish a good working relationship with her boss, Hal, a 60-ish man with movie star good looks and a weakness for manicures and botox.
But soon she realizes that although Hal is the darling of the good old boys on the board of drectors, his staff, made up of strong women, have mostly contempt for him – and for good reason. His ideas all result in inconvenience for other people, glory for himself and no help for the animals in his charge.
Wondering how he and his wife, a Harvard professor, can afford to maintain two multimillion dollar homes in two of the most expensive locations on the eastern seaboard, Diane and her roommate, a journalist, eventually follow him on a mysterious trip to Colorado.
What they learn is that he is heavily involved in the worse thing an animal advocate can be involved in.
Animal Cracker is an entertaining read with well drawn characters.
“Who's my good girl?” and all those other things that we say to our dogs may just be noisy hot air to them, according to a recent study.
Researchers first evaluated 42 shelter and pet dogs who were brought into a room one at a time. One person would offer only verbal praise while the other pet the dog. In the second part of their study, 72 shelter and pet dogs were placed in a room with one person — owners for the pet dogs and a stranger for the shelter dogs. The person would pet or praise the pooch, or have no interaction with him at all. Source
Researchers seemed surprisedthat the dogs showed more interest in people who were petting them than those who were praising them. Even more surprising to them, the dogs showed no more interest in spoken praise than in having no interaction with the human at all.
This doesn't seem surprising to me. What kind of praise did the dogs get? Meaningless “Atta-boys” and “Good girls” that meant nothing to them? Praise without being deserved would be confusing and meaningless to a dog, sort of like undeserved flattery to a person.
Does this mean that we waste our time talking to dogs? Not at all. Dogs are capable of learning hundreds of vocabulary words, but like human children they need to be exposed to words to learn them. If all they hear is "good dog," "bad dog" and "no," that is all they learn.
A 1950's Soviet dog spacesut will go to auction in Berlin on September 13. The lace up suit made from cotton, nylon, aluminum and rubber comes with an oxygen supply tube.
It is believed to have been worn by Soviet space dog pioneers as they trained for the early space program.
The spacesuit is expected to bring as much as $10,000 so it will be probably be purchased as an important piece of dog history and not as a dog Halloween costume.
Between 1957 and 1966, a total of 13 dogs were used in Soviet space flights, many of whom survived. Laika, the first dog in space, was the only dog Russian scientists knowingly sent into space to die.
Her exact fate was a Soviet secret for many years, but with the fall of the Soviet Union we found out that Laika, the most famous dog in the world at the time, died from panic and overheating just a few hours into the mission.
In 1998, Oleg Gazenko, one of the lead scientists of the Soviet animals in space program, speaking at a Moscow news conference voiced his regret for allowing her to die the way she did:
Working with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I feel sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.
Russian Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin is reported to have said, “I’m not sure if I was the first man in space or the last dog.”