Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let the girls play!

Some fabulous new pair plays today.   Running and wrestling is the best.

Back to back:  Keira & Lilo

A brief moment of inactivity -- most of my pictures are a blur of moving doggies!

Patty and Lilo!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Terri & Keira play and play and then play some more

Wow, Keira and Terri had a blast today during their first play session together.  It was SO much fun!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Scenes from doggie play today at the shelter

Billy and Patty a match made in heaven -- non-stop play fun!

Best play friends!

Little Billy has no problem keeping up with new tall gal Alice

Robin and her new fuzzy friend Hank

Monday, December 2, 2013

From Berkeley to Boise

From Berkeley to Boise
You may have noticed that the tides have turned and our shelter has been brimming with small dogs recently. In fact, shelters throughout the Bay Area have more small dogs than any recent years. At the same time, there are shelters in other parts of the country that amazingly have no small dogs at all. So for the benefit of these homeless wee ones, we are spreading the love in an effort to find them homes for the holidays. For the first time ever, BACS will be transferring small dogs from our shelter to a shelter in another state.
On December 9th we will be sending 15 of our small dogs to The Humane Society of Boise Idaho. We will be collaborating with the Alameda Animal Shelter who is also sending 15 small dogs. The dogs will be flown from Livermore thanks to the organization, Wings of Rescue, which helps move dogs across the country to facilitate their adoption. 
For this endeavor, we need to raise $600 for the transporation costs. We are also in need of 15 to 30 small dog crates, either wire or plastic. The crates need to be received by Friday, December 6th. They will not be returned so they are a donation to the nationwide effort. We feel the $600 needed is a minimal amount when the payoff of forever homes for so many little dogs is the payoff!
Any amount you donate is so greatly appreciated. No amount is too small as long as it comes from your heart. This holiday season, help us to help these dogs have the best holiday possible!

From the bottoms of our hearts, we thank you!
- To donate, please visit:
Operation Flying Chihuahuas | Pet Expenses -

Saturday, November 30, 2013

More pooch play

It's Lilo and Cody!

Same to you!

Patty draws the more reserved Titus into some play fun

Play with me... pretty please

Handsome Titus

Pretty Patty

Lovely Lilo

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday play over at the big dog run

Any playgroup these days is bound to start out with our boy Logan.  He loves to play with other dogs and he has been quite reliable with both male and female dogs.    

Here is his over at the freeway dog run today waiting eagerly for a doggie pal to join him.   Who is it going to be?

Well, look at that... it's Mr. Bigz...  The two boys had a fast game of chase with Mr. Bigz doing these adorable bucking bronco moves as he raced around.

Time to add some Seashell the mix.   And so it was done....


Logan showing his pals just how big his mouth can be!   It's all in good fun.

Time for a new group...   Patty has been selective with her doggie play friends so we wanted to see if Logan is her kind of guy...

And he sure is...

New boy Billy is fairly shy and so we brought him over to practice his social skills.   Here he is flashing a smile.   Good boy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday doggie play

It's official... Cody and Mom are an item...  Wednesday was date night and on Thursday they were back for more play fun....

Robin and Titus had a first date today which was a real pleasure to see.   On a previous play date Titus was not so interested but this time Robin seemed to light his fire and they had some good playful rounds.

Robin looks a little fierce here but she's just showing who is in charge.  Titus took no offense!

Pretty Robin would love to go home and have the doggie life she so deserves

Cody is one hunky blockhead!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My dog is not a Schipperke! -- The tale of one dog's DNA Analysis

I adopted my dog Jelly from the Berkeley Humane Society almost 10 years ago.  Her kennel card proclaimed her a Sharpei mix.   I bought it.   She has classic identifiable Sharpei physical characteristics.   Cute tiny triangle ears?   Check.  Rough horse hair coat (Sharpei literally means "sand skin").  Yep.  Wrinkles?   Definite  loose folds which we can pull over her head in a "comb over."    Purple skin -- yes though not tongue.  Turtle tail.  Yup.  Sharpeis-R-Us

People who know Sharpies  quickly identify her as such (the rest assume she's a pit bull mix I guess due to her stocky short-haired body -- but she's more of a pinhead than a blockhead).   But, what about the rest?   What other ingredients were in the mix of my best girl?    Six plus years ago when the Doggie DNA bizness was just starting I sent in some Jelly juice to be analyzed.    It was too hard to resist, all warnings and skepticism aside.   This is the DNA Age after all!

Imagine my chagrin when the report came back that I was the proud owner of a Miniature Pinscher mix!   Umm,  no.  It was good for a few laughs particularly with  side-by-side pictures of my 55-lb pooch with a 10lb Min Pin.    

I sent my "complaint" back to the company that they advertised they mapped the Sharpei gene but it had not been detected.    They agreed to re-test and magically her DNA transformed into a Sharpei/German Shepherd mix with hints of Rottweiler, Pomeranian and several other breeds.   WHATEVER.

Fast forward to last month.  Several people I know had recently submitted their pooch saliva for a Wisdom Panel test (Hi Kiem & Leo!).    My interest was again piqued and given Jelly's advancing age (and hopefully the advancement in the technology accuracy)  I decided to take the plunge again.  So, off went the spit swab to  Mars Veterinary for some Wisdom results.    The advertised 2-3 week turnaround was actually only 10 days.  Yippee!    Tell me about my pooch...

Meet your new....   Australian Cattledog / Shiba Inu / Schipperke / Mixed Breed dog:  JELLY!   

My dog is not a Schipperke.  No how, no way.  No offense to all you "little black devil" (not my turn of phrase)  dog owners/lovers.  Just not my cuppa tea.

Okay, so they offered a hint of Sharpei in the Mixed Breed ancestry though they wouldn't commit (my comment in red).

Of course, I sent a polite inquiry off to Mars Vet wondering why Jelly's strong Sharpei showing wasn't identified in the test results.   I know, statistical analysis and all that... My Jelly the outlier?

I received a quick response asking me to send some pictures of Jelly (headshot and side)  back so they could provide further information on the basis for the calculations.  Nice, I'm always willing to share pictures of my cute gal.

Here's what I sent as representative of her true sharpei-ness!

Again, a quick, courteous response:

"We have tried to present the results of our Wisdom Panel® DNA tests in a format that customers will understand. Additionally, we have sought to provide guidance as to which of the reported ancestral breeds are likely to account for the most significant genetic influence as these in turn may potentially impact the dog’s physical appearance and behavior. The stronger the breed signal detected, the greater proportion of that breed’s genome has been inherited increasing the likelihood that traits from the breed will be detectable. However, we must avoid absolute certainties as it is possible that a breed present in significant amounts might have subtle visible effects on the dog's phenotypic (genes that control appearance) traits due to the unique combinations with genes from other breeds present in the mix. 

All breed determinations are made solely by our proprietary computer algorithm. With each tested dog’s DNA, more than 7 million repetitive comparisons are made using a complex statistical algorithm. The algorithm scans the 321 genetic markers collected and looks for matches to breed signatures (Jelly’s sample was of very good quality and matched to almost 97% of the genetic markers we use for breed identification).  The computer then provides a complex numerical score for each breed (how good the match to the breed was at each marker) as well as a prediction of the relative amount of each breed detected. It then selects the single best combination of breeds and relative amounts of breeds detected that best match the tested DNA sample from this comparison with our extensive database of purebred AKC dog breed signatures." 

The rep then provided some other more detailed information that I found interesting.

"An important thing to keep in mind is that humans don't always inherit all their parent’s traits and this is the same with dogs...  In 1965, researchers Scott and Fuller bred a purebred Basenji to a purebred Cocker Spaniel and were shocked by the appearance of the F1 (first generation) dogs that were produced. "    

How often do we know the parents of a dog that show up at a shelter?     Almost never, but it sure would be interesting. (parents on left, offspring on right)

She then ran a test of Jelly's DNA markers against a genetic Sharpei profile and sent me the following graph.   As the legend shows, Jelly is blue, green is a purebred sharpei and the red dots are the mixed dog group.   Hmm.   Look at that cute little blue dot :-)

Not to go on about my dog but I will in the interests of... science... but the Mars Vet rep then provided the following breakdown.

Jelly’s Traits:

**NOTE** A dominant trait means that a dog only needed to inherit one copy of the gene (from any of its ancestors) in order to express it.  A recessive trait means that they would have needed to inherit two copies of the gene (one from their mother’s side of the family tree, and one from their father’s side) in order to express it.  More often than not, a dominant trait will be expressed over a recessive trait.**

Jelly’s coat color

·         Jelly's coat is light tan in coloration, a color that is produced by the recessive pigment phaeomelanin.  This pigment produces coloration ranging from light cream to the deep red of Irish Setters.  All three detected breeds carry this pigment and could have passed it on to Jelly. 

Jelly’s coat length

·         Jelly has a short coat length which is a dominant trait.  Not only do both the Australian Cattle Dog and the Shiba Inu have short hair as a dominant trait, but Jelly could have received this trait from any other of the mixes present in her make-up.  (Me:  But what about that oh-so-unusual rough prickly aspect of her coat which is a Sharpei trademark?)

Jelly’s ears

·         Jelly exhibits drop (down) ears, another dominant trait. This trait would have been inherited from her mix.  

 This video provides a bit more info about how Fido's Physical Traits are Determined...

As a long time shelter volunteer I've encountered many a breed mix in dogs.  I consider myself to be fairly savvy.   I certainly know that a purebred German Shorthair Pointer is not a pit bull as one person claimed as they dropped off a dog they had found.

The Mars rep passed along the following academic paper from the  American Journal of Sociological Research 2013 entitled:  "Comparison of Visual and DNA Breed Identification of Dogs and Inter-Observer Reliability".

From the abstract:  

"We were interested in how often visual identification of dogs by people, assumed to be knowledgeable about dogs, matched DNA breed identification and how often these people agreed with each other (inter-observer reliability). Over 900 participants who engaged in dog related professions and activities viewed one-minute, color video-clips of 20 dogs of unknown parentage and were asked to identify the dogs’ predominant breeds. For 14 of the dogs, fewer than 50% of the respondents visually identified breeds of dogs that matched DNA identification.Agreement among respondents was also very poor"

For those of you interested in the topic it's definitely worth a perusal of the complete report (link above).   Or, a more condensed poster version is available.

So, finally, where does this all leave me...  Convinced?  Not sure.  I do find myself looking at Jelly with new eyes... Is her tendancy to nip due to some cranky cattledog ancestor?   Quite possibly, though I'll likely never know for sure.  Of that which I am certain... she is a magical mystery special blend of 100% canine and her presence brings joy to my life each day.  


Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Frolics with the Gang

Such a fun mix of pooches today....  Logan and all his girl friends as seen below.

The charms of Mom and Seashell bring Logan to the floor!

Such a lovely matching red pair:  Logan and Mom!

Logan lounges as the girls Doughy, Robin and Seashell stand tall

Yay, Robin started to get the hang of how this play thing works and became more actively engaged.  It was so great to see her jumping around with glee!

Robin's been through some rough times but things are looking up thanks to the care and attention of BACS staff and volunteers

New gal pals Seashell, Robin and Terri!

Terri's turn to hit the deck, silly pooch

Seashell handles Terri's active puppy energy.  Good girls!