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January 04, 2010


Miles, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.



Kind of blue?

Gives new meaning to the phrase "sheep dog". Very soulful expression, though.

The Miles' coat looks almost artificial.

A wooly dog from from the Pacific Northwest gets me to thinking about something I have wondered about for years and have never gotten good answers for. To wit: Native American peoples in the Coastal Pacific Northwest and Coastal BC had a wooly dog (Salish wool dog) specifically bred for their wool which was made into blankets and shawls. They also had other dogs which presumably were not as carefully bred as the wool dogs. In any case, contemporary accounts suggest that their dogs were fed, in part, raw salmon. Here's the problem: Dogs in the Pacific NW that eat raw salmon are likely to get a very grave sickness called salmon poisoning disease (SPD) which is caused by a bacterium carried by a fluke that is in turn carried by salmon (and epidemiologically less importantly, by another denizen of the Pac. NW, the bizarre Pacific giant salamander). SPD has a mortality rate in dogs of almost 90%. In the dogs that live in the area now that is. What I'd like to know is: Had the native American's dogs evolved resistance to SPD? The Salish wool dog was unique to that area and was kept isolated from other dogs in order to keep the breed pure for its intended purpose of providing wool. Of all dogs in the area, Salish wool dogs would be least likely to have any genetic resistance to SPD diluted by genetic material from dogs living outside the area that did not regularly encounter raw salmon. Since salmon 1- originally lived in every stream and river throughout the Pacific Northwest that was not cut off by waterfalls, 2- were exceedingly abundant in season, 3- were the staple food of the people living in the area, 4- littered every beach and sandbar with millions of their spawned-out carcasses every autumn, and 5- are cooked, uncooked, dried, fresh, or rotten as tasty as gravy to dogs, how did the local native Americans keep their dogs from going extinct? Considering the ubiquity of salmon -including infected salmon- in their environment, it would have been impossible to keep a dog from eating raw salmon. I've asked a few native Americans about this but no one has any answers.

Also, do, or did, local canids like coyotes and wolves eat salmon and how are, or were, they affected by SPD? It's hard to imagine a coyote turning away from a stream bank littered with hundreds of salmon carcasses to pursue mice in the woods. Unless local coyotes/wolves/foxes had either evolved immunological resistance to SPD or a distaste for salmon, they would presumably have also suffered high mortality throughout the area -which is a very large region indeed- used by spawning salmon.

Another thing: I'm very fond of gravlachs, which is essentially raw salmon, and I make some almost every year from local salmon. Has my gut been colonized by the flukes? If so, are they doing well?

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