About Nature's Way Carolina Dogs

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Seymour, Tennessee, United States
Welcome to my site about my Naturally Reared Carolina Dogs! Carolina Dogs are a relatively new, rare breed recognized by the UKC, AKC-FSS & ARBA, and are quite possibly America's own indigenous wild dog. CDs make wonderful companions, athletes, hunters, and bedwarmers! Natural Rearing is the philosophy wherein we raise our dogs and puppies by following the 8 Laws of Health, employing Biologically Appropriate Raw Food and no toxic chemicals on, in or around our dogs. We have found this way of life fosters balance, health and longevity in our beloved companions. For our puppies, we welcome homes that have a very similar philosophy about dog rearing, or wish to learn. Check us out, follow us and share us in other places!!! YouTube@ Susan NaturesWayCarolina Dogs NaturesWayPets and FaceBook @ https://www.facebook.com/mycarolinadog on Twitter @https://twitter.com/NaturesWayCDs Thank you so much for visiting our site, feel free to leave us a comment or send us an email! susanlewelling@yahoo.com

Sunday, January 26, 2014

factsheet from University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Labratory

Primitive Dogs of the Southeast

dog.gif (41059 bytes)When the first primitive humans crossed the Bering land-bridge into North America from Asia, they were accompanied by a primitive form of dog. The animals resulted from the domestication of southwest Asian wolves in the region of Iraq a few thousand years earlier. These small, non-descript dogs moved quickly with their human companions down through the western part of North America. Skeletal remains and mummified bodies of these dogs have been found along with artifacts from primitive Southwest Indians.
From the Southwest, these primitive dogs moved into the eastern United States. Archaeological investigations have indicated their presence in the southeastern forested woodlands. There they were companions of the Indians of the Southeast long before the arrival of the first European explorers of the New World.
Recent studies of free-ranging dogs in parts of South Carolina and Georgia have revealed the continued existence of medium-sized, foxlike primitive dogs. Their appearance, as well as behavior and general ecology, suggest a close ancestry - if not direct descent of type - from the first primitive dogs to enter North America more than 8,000 years ago.
Called the "Carolina Dog," these animals most closely resemble Australia's Dingo, which may indeed be among their closest living relatives. Scientists suggest that the striking resemblance between Carolina Dogs and the Dingo stems from the way in which both animals have filled a free-living, or "pariah," niche, on the fringe of human civilization and culture.

Free-ranging Dogs of the Savannah River Site

Long-term studies of foxes, bobcats and other fur-bearers on the U.S. Department of Energy's 310- square-mile Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, S.C., have revealed the presence of Dingo-like, free-ranging dogs. Their appearance suggests a loose resemblance to the primitive Carolina Dog body type described above.
In the late 1980s, scientists from the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory brought these dogs into captivity from public lands bordering SRS and other large tracts of protected natural habitat, such as the U.S. Army's Fort Gordon in nearby Augusta, Ga. Studies of the dogs' behavior under semi-free-ranging conditions in a captive breeding program have revealed unique behavioral traits. These traits had never before been described in any form of domestic dog or wild canine species.
One of the most unusual of these traits is the tendency for some of these dogs to ritualistically cover their droppings with sand. But they only do this during certain seasons of the year or phases of the reproductive cycle, such as when females are nursing puppies.

Towards the Development of a New Breed

Offspring born in captivity to wild-caught Carolina Dogs - when properly socialized from an early age - have proved adaptable as family pets under a wide variety of household conditions.
Ecology Laboratory senior researcher Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin has established a studbook for these animals. Also, both the American Rare Breed Association and the United Kennel Club have recognized the Carolina Dog breed registry. Now, the dogs' versatility and trainability is being demonstrated in show ring competitions, suburban homes and farmsteads.

2013 Article from The Bark

Why the Transformation of Wolves to Dogs Remains a Puzzle
The more I consider the continuing debate over the “time” and “place” for the transformation of wolf into dog, the more I become convinced that the puzzle remains unsolved because of human devotion to a simplistic, clever-sounding idea that never made sense in the first place. As first put forth by Raymond Coppinger, that idea was that wolves feeding on the garbage piles of quasi-permanent Mesolithic villages grew tamer over the course of generations until they no longer feared or threatened humans. In the process of taming themselves, those wolves also became less fearful of and aggressive toward humans. They were cute, too. For reasons that were never clear to me, people took these cute obsequious dump divers into their homes, where they blossomed into dogs. 
Coppinger pinned his argument on Dmitry Belyaev’s experiment, begun in 1959, at a Siberian fur farm, in which a group of foxes was bred for tameness alone and within ten generations was producing foxes that resembled dogs with floppy ears, piebald coats, and a high need for attention. They were juvenilized in behavior as well as appearance.
There are a number of reasons why the foxes are not a good model for origins of the dog, and I have elsewhere addressed them in detail.  For now, suffice it to say that dogs arose not in quasi-permanent Mesolithic villages but in Paleolithic hunting camps.  They were not sought nor selected because they solicited attention and showed no aggression—these are hardly traits of a good guard, which was one of the tasks of early dogs.  Guarding remains a major reason why people keep dogs.
But the greatest problem with the self-domesticating theory is that it shuts the most creative creature on the planet out of the process. To put it bluntly, that makes no sense.  Humans have always collected, tamed, and trained animals. It is inconceivable that they would ignore one as intelligent and inquisitive as the wolf.
Genomics and its offspring have shown that living organisms are not biological machines but energetic systems supported by layers of complexification. Genomics has also contributed to a more dynamic view of “domestication” as a process involving the interplay of biological, environmental, and cultural forces. The hard line between “domestic” and “wild” –always imaginary but not less real for that—has for the dog become increasingly difficult to find despite the distortions that define the current period of breedism.  I am using “breedism” to refer to all aspects of the cult of the purebred dog that began to take hold about 200 years ago.  Of course, there are significant differences between dogs and wolves, when they are in their own environments, but what happens when the dog goes native or the wolf becomes a lay-about?
It sometimes appears that every new find simply raises new questions while leaving old ones unresolved.  That trend is apparent in two new papers by Ya-ping Zhang, a leading Chinese geneticist, who collaborated with geneticists from China and two different labs in Sweden and California on two new papers promoting Chinese indigenous dogs—native or village dogs—as the closest dogs to the ancient type.
Working with Peter Savolainen, of Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology,  Zhang has over the past decade or so insisted that dogs originated in southeast China no earlier than 16,000 years ago, and many researchers elsewhere adopted his argument despite the notable absence of dog or wolf remains from that region at that date and the presence of dog remains from other places considerably earlier. 
The researchers redid the numbers using new chips that spot changes in the genome including so-called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, and indels—insertions or deletions of small amounts of genetic material.  SNPs and indels can be used to measure degrees or years of separation of discrete groups of organisms.  Crunching the numbers and running regression analyses, they found that southeast China village dogs separated from wolves 32,000 years ago.  There were a lot of them by then, too, they reported in an article in Nature Communications [subscription required], with Guo-dong Wang and Weiwei Zhai as first authors and Zhang as senior author—8,500 dogs by their estimate.
The new date fits nicely with some “early dogs” identified from the Altai Mountains, Belgium and the Czech Republic, although Zhang and his colleagues are not quite willing to admit that those animals are dogs.  In fact, they appear to want to deal with the early date by using it to mark the beginning of a long period of self-domestication for a group of scavenging protodogs.
Zhang’s group declares: “Early wolves might have been domesticated as scavengers that were attracted to live and hunt commensally with humans. With successive adaptive changes, these scavengers became progressively more prone to human custody. In light of this view, the domestication process might have been a continuous dynamic process, where dogs with extensive human contact were derived from these scavengers much latter [sic] when humans began to adopt an agricultural life style.”
The operative words here are “commensally” and  “scavenger.”  Together, they say that wolves were drawn to human garbage or some other waste and so started hanging around and hunting with them but without having a discernable effect or bringing them any benefit—thus, the term “commensally”—until the biped started farming. Then the scavengers showed their true worth as crossover omnivores and became dogs.
That is not complex, but it is convoluted. At a basic level, it is not clear why protodogs could not have arrived in southeastern China from the Altai Mountain region, for example, where the people who would come to enter the New World and spread through much of the Old World as the glaciers began to retreat, had gathered, presumably with dogs some 35,000 years ago.  A population of dogs and people could easily have gotten to southeast China and radiated outward from there.  The much trumpeted diversity of dogs in the region could be a result not of their origins there but an accident of geography and history, including intensive breeding of dogs for food and a settlement pattern that featured many small riverine villages along the Yangtze River, one of the world’s largest.
Zhang’s defense for the lack of wolves in southeast China is that wolf populations have changed everywhere, and so no one has an ancestral wolf for study and comparison. But the Chinese indigenous dogs and a couple of related breeds, are the dogs closest genetically to wolves, and that makes them all the more important as living artifacts, Zhang and his team reason.  Specifically, they looked for genetic loci that might show positive selection pressure in dogs and humans and therefor might represent parallel evolution in the two species. The genes they identified as likely candidates are involved in diet, specifically the ability to digest grains; metabolism; cancer and neurological processes, especially some involving the neurotransmitter, serotonin. 
Zhang is also corresponding author with Dong-Dong Wu, both of the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China, on a Molecular Biology and Evolution paper involving the laboratory of Robert K. Wayne, dean of canid evolutionary biologists, and several of the next generation of dog geneticists who have already published important work—Bridgett vonHoldt and Adam Boyko.  They were especially focused on the prefrontal cortex and on parts of the brain that appear involved in fear response and sociability.
I say “sociability”, but, following Zhang’s lead, the researchers on these pages say “tameness,” while continuing to cling to the Soviet fox experiment as evidence that the dog was self domesticating, becoming obsequious and ingratiating and nonaggressive while eating garbage and offal.  Standard descriptions of this work are abundant, and I won’t repeat them here.   But it is fair to say that grand pronouncements about the working of the brain must be treated cautiously.
Most of these searches for genes involved in the transformation of wolves to dogs are based on at least two significant, faulty assumptions about the behavior of dogs and wolves.  The first faulty assumption Is that wolves are now, and were in the late Pleistocene, aggressive competitors with humans.  There is evidence documenting not only friendly but also mutually beneficial relationships of humans and wolves going back thousands of years.  There are suggestive associations of wolf and Homo erectus remains going back hundreds of thousands of years.
The second faulty assumption is that a group of wolves effectively said to humans, “Because we like your leavings so much, we will stop vying with you and aggressing against you. We will be abject before you if you will give us excretia to eat because we cannot live by ourselves.”  The question I always ask is, would you want such a creature in your house, in your bed? That is unlikely.  This assumption is faulty because there is no evidence that wolves generically dislike or even fear humans.  The global wolf recovery with wolves living in ever closer proximity to humans proves that wrong.  It is humans who hate wolves. 
That wolves and humans, similar as they are in so many ways, should make common cause, should surprise no one.  Hunters study hunters.  Species cooperate.  It would be more aberrant if they did not.  Coral groupers, Napoleon wrasse, and moray eels were recently shown to hunt cooperatively, for example. Around the world, hunting cultures had dogs that often interbred with, sometimes were indistinguishable from wolves.  In the New World and elsewhere that situation was contemporaneous with the rise of multiple refined breeds in the Anglo-English speaking world.
In a real sense, then, what we call domestication of the wolf was really a rolling and flexible bringing into human culture of wolves who had the psychological and emotional capacity for sociability, for forming strong bonds not just with another individual but also with another species. 
Some years ago Adam Miklosi and his colleagues compared hand reared wolves to dogs.  The lengthening of the first critical socialization period and a greatly increased capacity to form strong bonds to another species were clearly central to the appearance of the dog, they concluded.
Yet for all of their problems, these two new studies are useful for their focus on indigenous dogs, the landrace dogs who although they might have several uses are generally not bred by humans to any purpose, but who still live, reproduce, and die in human society.  How ancient or basic these dogs are is not really known. But they are found around the world, and I think that comparative studies of them and resident wolves and truly self-sustaining feral dogs, where they still exist, will prove most interesting. The same applies to comparison of DNA from ancient dogs and wolves. We do not yet see them clearly.


Phylogenetic Distinctiveness of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian Village Dog Y Chromosomes 

Modern genetic samples are commonly used to trace dog origins, which entails untested assumptions that village dogs reflect indigenous ancestry or that breed origins can be reliably traced to particular regions. We used high-resolution Y chromosome markers (SNP and STR) and mitochondrial DNA to analyze 495 village dogs/dingoes from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, along with 138 dogs from >35 modern breeds to 1) assess genetic divergence between Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian village dogs and their phylogenetic affinities to Australian dingoes and gray wolves (Canis lupus) and 2) compare the genetic affinities of modern breeds to regional indigenous village dog populations. The Y chromosome markers indicated that village dogs in the two regions corresponded to reciprocally monophyletic clades, reflecting several to many thousand years divergence, predating the Neolithic ages, and indicating long-indigenous roots to those regions. As expected, breeds of the Middle East and East Asia clustered within the respective regional village dog clade. Australian dingoes also clustered in the Southeast Asian clade. However, the European and American breeds clustered almost entirely within the Southeast Asian clade, even sharing many haplotypes, suggesting a substantial and recent influence of East Asian dogs in the creation of European breeds. Comparison to 818 published breed dog Y STR haplotypes confirmed this conclusion and indicated that some African breeds reflect another distinct patrilineal origin. The lower-resolution mtDNA marker consistently supported Y-chromosome results. Both marker types confirmed previous findings of higher genetic diversity in dogs from Southeast Asia than the Middle East. Our findings demonstrate the importance of village dogs as windows into the past and provide a reference against which ancient DNA can be used to further elucidate origins and spread of the domestic dog.



2003 Article from National Geographic

Did Carolina Dogs Arrive With Ancient Americans?

By Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
March 11, 2003
Humans and dogs enjoy a prehistoric relationship, a longstanding bond with its origins in a time when dogs as we know them evolved from wild animals into our domesticated companions.
Now, a canine living in a manner similar to that of dogs from those ancient days may have been discovered in isolated stretches of longleaf pines and cypress swamps in the American Southeast.
The Carolina Dog, a familiar-looking animal long known in the rural South as the "yaller dog," may be more than the common mutt that immediately meets the eye. I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., Senior Ecologist at the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Lab, believes that these animals may be America's most primitive dogs.
Brisbin's research is featured in a new television documentary Search for the First Dog, premiering in the United States tonight on the National Geographic Channel.
It was Brisbin's knowledge of Australia's dingo that first led him to look at a familiar local canine in an entirely new way.
Brisbin was studying the origins of the world's remaining wild, ancient dogs, including the dingo, which may have reached Australia walking alongside that continent's original human inhabitants thousands of years ago. Such primitive dogs are uncommon because the canine passion for choosing diverse mates often complicates breeding patterns.
Brisbin was struck by the physical appearance of an American wild dog that ended up in a pound near his South Carolina home. "You look like a dingo," he thought in a moment of revelation, "I wonder how many of you other guys are out there that look like dingos?"
The answer: possibly quite a few, but only in selected places. Although their wild numbers seem to be rapidly decreasing, Brisbin located a number of these animals in secluded areas far from the presence of humans or domestic dogs. Their appearance first led him to propose his theory of their ancient origins—they could have arrived in America along with the earliest migrating humans across the Bering Strait land bridge. If so, Carolina Dogs could be among the earliest dogs to enter North America many thousands of years ago.
Behavior, DNA Suggest Uncommon Background
The exciting idea remains a hypothesis, one that's under examination by an analysis of fossils, cave paintings, and other pieces of the North American historical record. Early paintings of Native Americans, for example, show accompanying dogs whose appearance looks strikingly like today's Carolina Dogs.
Another suggestive piece of evidence is comparison with dogs that remain on the other side of the long vanished Asia-North America land connection.

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"It's a hypothesis," Brisbin stressed, "but we might infer that if dogs look similar on both sides of the Baring Strait land bridge, maybe our first American dogs came over from that area." On Chindo Island, Korea, local free-ranging dogs exist that have apparently been free from hybridization by other breeds. "That native Korean breed, the chindo-kae, is indistinguishable from Carolina Dogs, Brisbin noted. "If they were mixed in a group, I couldn't tell who was who."
The distinctive appearance of Carolina Dogs is not their only link to the world's surviving primitive breeds. Brisbin's studies have also revealed behaviors not observed in domestic dogs.

Other unusual behaviors include the digging of small pits. While many dogs dig, Carolina Dogs do so with a pattern that so far remains a mystery. "What's unique about them is that they dig lots of these little pits, but only in specific areas and only in the fall," Brisbin explained. "Also, the vast majority of the dogs who dig pits are females. When you see that kind of structure, you think that there is a reason for it, some kind of selection at work. But so far, we don't know why they do this."
Carolina Dogs' breeding cycles, for example, may reflect the challenges of wilderness survival. Breeding begins young and can occur often—three times in a year. "It's astounding," Brisbin said, "other dogs don't do that. Why?" He theorizes that it may be a population-level adaptation, ensuring that the next generation is born before the old is afflicted with diseases like heartworm. The cycles also follow seasonal patterns, apparently timed to coincide with the times of birth of easy and abundant prey—young rodents and other small mammals.
Another interesting observation is an entire range of hunting and prey-catching techniques not commonly seen in domestic dogs. These include hunting snakes in an effective pack formation and dispatching by cracking them, whip-like, into the air.
Within the realm of laboratory science, very preliminary DNA studies on the Carolina Dogs have provided some tantalizing results. "It's intriguing," Brisbin said, "we grabbed them out of the woods based on what they look like, and if they were just dogs their DNA patterns should be well distributed throughout the canine family tree. But they aren't. They're all at the base of the tree, where you would find very primitive dogs." Such results are not conclusive, as other dog breeds sometimes show similar patterns, but they do beg the need for more extensive DNA testing that could more accurately fix the dogs' place in the genetic universe. "We need more research funding, more testing, and more Carolina Dog DNA," Brisbin noted.
Wild Populations Under Pressure
Any future DNA will have to be provided by the surviving wild population of these animals, a group that faces the pressure of increasing development throughout their previously isolated home range. It's likely the unique characteristics of their remote Southeast habitat that have allowed the dogs to live there as they do nowhere else in North America.
Isolated tracts of land exist in the region that are relatively free of other domestic dogs that could potentially hybridize Carolina Dogs—and until recently the area was also free from coyotes. The latter aggressive animals likely have a three-fold effect on this primitive dog species in North America. "I think that coyotes sometimes eat these types of dogs," Brisbin said, "successfully compete with them for food resources, and also hybridize them."
Because of encroaching humans, dogs, and now coyotes, the future is not bright for the survival of the pure strains of free-ranging, wild Carolina Dogs.
Don Anderson is a longtime local resident, who with a cousin owns several thousand acres of prime Carolina Dog-habitat. He does his part to ensure the survival of the wild dogs in his area. "I sort of protect these dogs," he said, "we have about three packs operating in this wide area."
"One the biggest things I do to promote those in the wild is to be sure that hunters are advised of their existence." Anderson added. "Most people have no idea what a Carolina Dog is, even the neighbors. They're the people who need to be apprised of the situation. I just try to use what little bit of influence I have to make sure people don't bother them."
Carolina Dogs' future as a registered domestic breed, however, is perhaps more assured. The animals are now a registered breed recognized with the American Rare Breed Association and the United Kennel Club. "The breed is an artificial construct," Brisbin said, "made by man for his own whims.
"The dogs in the wild are not a breed, just as gorillas in the wild are not a breed."
Vicki Rand is an editor with the United Kennel Club, which worked with Brisbin to register the breed. She explained that Carolina Dogs are classified in a group known as pariah dogs. They are the group's only North American member. "They're essentially wild dogs, that live on the outskirts of human settlements occasionally interacting with humans," she said of the group. "Most of these that still exist are in developing nations, in the Far East and Africa."
Their wild nature doesn't stop some people from breeding Carolina Dogs and using them as domestic companions. Rand notes that such a proposition is a bit different from raising the average dog. "They're often not as easy to train as the domesticated dogs we're used to, they are more wild and their affiliation with people is traditionally more of a symbiotic relationship."
Don Anderson raises a litter or so of Carolina Dogs each year, a process that began when a Carolina Dog puppy fell into a spring on his property and became a pet. The animals have long been known in the South as superior tracking and watchdogs, but while Anderson enjoys breeding them he ultimately does so for a higher purpose. "My main drive is that with such a small gene pool, I feel like eventually the dogs could become too inbred—like the New Guinea singing dogs. I'm trying to prevent them from becoming inbred, especially if they become as popular as I believe they will."

1999 Smithsonian Magazine article

Smithsonian Magazine article from 1999

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Whole article 

By Scott Weidensaul ~ Photographs by Lynda Richardson
 IT'S NOT OFTEN that a registered breed of dog starts with a castoff that even the pound didn't want and a stray plucked out of the woods.  But it is even less likely that such animals would provide one of those rare "Eureka!" moments in science, drawing back the curtain on both evolution and human culture, and providing clues to the mysterious origins of the long, fruitful partnership that exists between humans and canines.
     And yet, that's exactly what happened with the shy enigma of a creature known as the Carolina dog, which just may be a remnant of the first animals to accompany humans across the Bering land bridge to North America thousands of years ago. Then again, it may be nothing more than a modern mutt; no one is exactly sure, and the genetic evidence, while suggestive, is thus far inconclusive. Regardless, the Carolina dog, and several other demonstrably primitive canids, some nearing extinction, are part of a controversial reexamination of how modern dogs arose, and even more fundamental questions about the process of domestication itself.
     If you passed a Carolina dog on a back road in humid South Carolina Low Country, where stands of tall longleaf pine alternate with crop fields and cypress swamps, chances are you wouldn't spare it a glance — it would seem to be just a scrawny, medium-sized mongrel with a reddish-yellow coat, upright ears and a whiplash tail curling up over its back, what rural Southerners have long called a "yaller" dog.  And for years, that's all I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., thought they were, too
     Brisbin — "Bris" to his colleagues at the Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) in Aiken, South Carolina — saw these skittish feral dogs from time to time. Brisbin is a senior ecologist on the sprawling Savannah River Site, a huge nuclear reservation 
carved out of the local farmland in the 1950s by the federal government, which built reactors there for the defense program. The reactors are shut down now, and the Savannah site — 310 square miles of mostly forest and wetlands — is a National Environmental Research Park.  Fenced off with barbed wire  and closed to the public, it is a fertile haven for wildlife despite some areas with residual radioactivity.      Brisbin, a trim man in his late 50s with bottomless energy, is a polymath with professional interests that range from alligators and box turtles to wood storks and furbearers.  His graduate work on the bioenergetics of reptiles and birds first led him to study red junglefowl, the ancestors of modern chickens.  And that sparked a curiosity about the process of domestication in animals, which in turn meshed neatly with his lifelong passion for dogs and dog training.      And that led him, eventually, to Horace and Marion.
     Horace was a stray, white with brown markings, found wandering in the late '70s on the boundary of the Savannah River Site.  There wasn't anything terribly special about him — he seemed just a typical rural mutt of the sort you'd find chained to back porches and doghouses from the Carolinas to Texas.  Brisbin, whose specialty at the time was training American Staffordshire terriers and bloodhounds, added Horace to his kennel of show dogs, and for several years didn't spare him much more thought.
      Which is a little odd, because Brisbin was beginning to think about feral dogs.  Early in his research on domestication, he became fascinated by the origins of truly wild dogs, like the dingo in Australia, a honey-gold dog believed to have come to the island continent with humans about 4,000 years ago.  He wondered whether the dogs that came  to North America with humans might have been similar to dingoes, and he studied the archaeological and anthropological evidence. And he spent his spare time learning about the so-called pariah dogs of the Old World, which share traits with dingoes.      In many corners of Europe, Asia and Africa, on the margins of human civilization, there are dogs lurking in the shadows — not pampered house pets, but untamed, often malnourished animals scavenging for scraps and garbage, avoiding people, surviving on the edge between wild and tame.  Regardless of the setting — Afghanistan, Korea, Malaysia, the Papua New Guinea highlands — they frequently share common attributes: shorthaired coats that may be multi-colored but are often ginger, curled tails, erect ears and foxlike faces.  In India these animals are called pariahs, after the low-ranking social caste, and that name has come to be applied to such populations elsewhere.  In fact, Brisbin has defined a "pariah niche," a pervasive canine lifestyle that revolves around scavenging garbage near human settlements.
     One winter day several years after Horace arrived, Brisbin had him out for a run with his other, pedigreed dogs. That day, for some reason, Brisbin looked beyond Horace's piebald coat to his shape and proportions, and it struck him that the dog looked just like a dingo, like the pariahs halfway around the world.  "At that moment everything just fell into place," he says now, 20 years later.
     Brisbin realized that he'd been seeing dogs that looked like dingoes for years, roaming the woods of the Savannah River Site, often turning up in the traps he'd set as part of his regular furbearer surveys.  On a hunch, he drove that day to an animal shelter just to see if they had more of these dingo-like dogs. Sitting in a kennel, with only her head poking out of a box, was a dog that looked like she had stepped out of the Australian outback. 
     The shelter operators thought Brisbin was crazy for taking the untamed animal, but they were also glad to find a home for such a thoroughly unadoptable dog.  "So they go into the doghouse with a noose pole and drag her out screaming, spread-eagled, leaving claw marks through the kennel, and put her, urinating all over herself, into this cage in the back of my car.  And I was handed a card, which I have to this day." Bris shakes his head and laughs.  "It's got this little dog face, and it says, 'We are pleased you found room in your heart and your home to adopt this  "Little One"' — who was yelping in my cage, shaking like a leaf — 'who comes fully guaranteed to love, protect and be loyal to you as long as it lives.'
     "And you know, ironically, she has", he says.  Brisbin named the dog Marion, after Gen.  Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of the Revolutionary War.  And while she has never become his "little one," she did learn to accept and tolerate him, the same way an aloof cat tolerates its owner, respectful but always distant, preserving her space and dignity.
      Today, Marion is a 14-year-old matriarch, her coat somewhat threadbare, her muzzle gray and her eyes cloudy, her gait stiff and arthritic.  But she retains some of the wildness that marked her early life; even around Brisbin she is shy and at a remove.  A visitor who sits for a long time, pretending that he has no interest in her, may receive a careful sniff at his knee — but if he reaches to stroke her scarred muzzle she pulls back, not in alarm but maintaining distance.
    Brisbin acquired more of these feral pariahs, which he'd taken to calling Carolina dogs, from shelters and from the wild in South Carolina and Georgia.  A number of them came from land surrounding large federal reservations, like Fort Gordon near Augusta, where much of the terrain remains undeveloped and undisturbed.  Brisbin kept his Carolinas in a complex of kennels in an 18-acre enclosure where they could roam in the woodlots and fields.  They started producing puppies — and surprises.
    Regardless of their origin, the Carolinas did things never before observed in domestic dogs.  They had peculiar breeding cycles, starting with a rapid-fire, thrice-annual estrus in young females (perhaps a way to ensure quick breeding before diseases like heartworm took their toll) that later settled into seasonal reproductive cycles peaking in spring and late summer — the period, Brisbin notes, when small mammals are most abundant. Some pregnant females dug elaborate underground dens in which to give birth, unlike most domestic dogs, which usually just crawl under a porch or into a handy pile of brush. When she was in estrus or after her puppies were born, a captive female would carefully cover her excrement by scraping sand over it with her nose.     To Brisbin's bafflement, the animals also dug what he calls "snout pits," hundreds of small, conical depressions in the dirt that exactly fit the dogs' muzzles.  Most snout pits are dug by females, between September and January. The dogs seem to be eating something, "but when I pull them out and look, there's never anything there," Brisbin says. They are particular about where they dig, and Brisbin can only conclude they're eating the soil itself, perhaps for its minerals.     With time, Bris became convinced he had stumbled onto something unique. The size, shape, color and behavior of the Carolina dogs, so similar to the the traits of other primitive canids, suggested they might be a relic of the first dogs to enter the region. He compared their skulls with those of Indian dogs from 2,000-year-old archaeological digs at Savannah River; they were similar, but there was too much individual variation among the fossils to be certain.
     But the fact that Carolina dogs are most often found in wild, swampy, sparsely settled regions, instead of more heavily populated areas where stray dogs are most common, is a strong indication to Brisbin that these are more than just mongrels. Others agree; Bris has convinced both the American Rare Breeds Association and the United Kennel Club to recognize the Carolina dog. As with any registered breed, there is now a Carolina dog studbook to document and control breeding, and Brisbin's animals have even started winning "best in show" at multiple-breed dog shows.
     They are, of course, individuals. There are Lucy and Cici, both captured as wild pups, who vanish down their den holes before a stranger even steps from Brisbin's car. Dibble, the dominant female of the pack, is a bit standoffish, but Bo Pup, an adolescent, is all over me in seconds with open-mouthed greetings. Surrey is a medium-sized female, daughter of Horace and Marion; Morgan is a solid, friendly chap whose drop ears belie his Carolina dog genes.
     If Marion is emblematic of a pariah dog's ancestral shyness, Taz is the polar opposite: a Carolina dog deeply, passionately, enthusiastically in love with people. He's Brisbin's home dog, a white-and-tan whose parents were both taken from the wild. Bris is bringing him up through the ranks of obedience training, aiming for the highest level. On the lead, Taz reacts instantly to hand and voice signals, but when the leash comes off as we walk in the woods, he vaults up steep banks with ease, and scrambles out on fallen tree trunks that span 20-foot-deep gullies.
      On an oppressive June evening, with the temperature still above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun a fierce red ball in the western sky, I walk with Bris and a dozen or so Carolinas across Banbury Cross Farm, near Aiken. The dogs lope easily ahead of us, the low sun backlighting them, creating little moving nimbi of gold. Billy Morgan Benton, a big, outgoing man with dark hair slicked back wet under his cap, whistles to his pack, he and farm owner Jane Gunnell breed the dogs here, working with Brisbin to establish the Carolina dog as a domestic pet. They are frolicsome, friendly animals, Gunnell says, but out in the wooded nooks and weedy fields of the farm, their primitive traits become obvious.      The dogs are ginger, a red-brown that fades to pale buff on the flanks and belly, the same color as fallen pine needles and dead grass. They fan out through a low scrubby field, moving into the damp breeze, zigzagging and coursing with their noses low and their curved tails at half-staff. Suddenly one dog makes a sidestep, its supple neck arching; the tail snapping high, the longer, whiter hairs along its underside flaring, reminding me of a deer.
     The effect on the rest of the pack is electric. Within seconds, all the dogs converge on the spot, tails moving like semaphore flags. One plunges its head into the grass with the speed of a heron's stab, but it misses. Something small skitters through the weeds, and another dog leaps, coming down with mouth and front feet together, a predatory exclamation mark — Bam! There is a tiny squeak, and the mouse vanishes in one gulp.
     "I would suggest that you're watching a reenactment of a dog pack out hunting 8,000 years ago," Brisbin says. While he doesn't claim that Carolina dogs are direct, genetically pure descendants of the original dogs that crossed the land bridge, he believes that they re-create their look and behavior. 
     "The Carolina dog is a hypothesis, he says. "A hypothesis that there still exists in certain parts of the United States, most likely in relatively uninhabited broad expanses of natural habitat within the Southeast, remnant groups of dogs whose morphological, behavioral, ecological and genetic traits may approximate those of the first dogs to enter North America.
     "It's all part of the package. Morphology and behavior go hand in hand," Brisbin says, gesturing to the lean shape of a nearby dog snuffling through the underbrush. That sinuous, blue-heron neck doesn't seem relevant without the pointed muzzle for stabbing at prey, and the upright ears for sharp hearing, and the long tail with its pale underside for signaling to the rest of the pack. Whether the Carolina dog is an ancient holdover or a modern throwback, its shape and behavior make a lot of evolutionary sense. 
      Genetics may tease out the origins of the Carolina dog, but so far the results are mixed. Recently, Brisbin and his colleague Travis Glenn, a molecular geneticist at SREL, have been looking at the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of Carolina dogs — the genetic material passed down through the maternal line, and a potent gauge of relationships among animals.
   When the mtDNA from Carolina dogs, dingoes, singing dogs and a variety of domestic breeds are compared, a phylogenetic tree — a sort of family tree showing their relationships — can be made. In this tree, the Carolina dogs tended to clump together near the base, an intriguing though tentative result that suggests the Carolina dogs may possess primitive genetic traits.
   "Most of the dogs coming out at the base of the tree are Carolina dogs or dingoes," Glenn says. "If there were no basis to the argument that Carolinas are primitive, they'd be all over the tree, but they're grouped together." Glenn, who had initially assumed the Carolinas were just domestic dogs, admits he was stunned when he saw the results. "I had to go out for a beer."      Brisbin is cautious in interpreting the results, especially since the mtDNA sequences of some domestic dogs also grouped with the Carolinas at the base of the tree. "It's interesting that at a preliminary stage, most all of the Carolina dogs turned out to be primitive" — but so did boxers, German shepherds and Labrador retrievers, among others. It will take more research to sort out exactly what secrets are hiding in the "yaller" dog's genes.
   The Carolinas are part of what Brisbin calls "the great arc of the red dog," the worldwide distribution of pariah canids. From their probable point of evolution somewhere in Southwest Asia or the Middle East, the ancestors of today's domestic dogs spread out in tandem with humans into Africa; and southeast through Java, Australia, New Guinea and then island-hopping through the South Pacific in rafts and canoes; north through Korea, Japan, Siberia and then into North and South America.
     In remote corners of the world, away from the later waves of European dogs that hybridized local varieties out of existence, some of the original dogs still survive. Unlike the Carolinas, their ancient lineage is undisputed. The most intriguing, and perhaps the most primitive, is the NewGuinea singing dog. Low-slung and muscular, weighing about 25 pounds, with short legs, a long torso and a wide face, it is a curiously feline dog with an ability to climb and jump that is unmatched by any other breed — a handy trait in the sodden, jumbled forests of the New Guinea mountains, where it can scramble up trees like a cat. The name comes from its weird, harmonic howls, whose unearthly qualities prompted one of the highland tribes to claim the Creator had replaced the dog's tongue with the quill of a cassowary, a native bird. These dogs are truly wild animals and rarely seen.

   Although singing dogs have  been in New Guinea for at least  4,000 years, living examples  were only discovered by the outside world in the 1950s. At that time, they were classified as a separate species of wild canid, although today they are officially grouped with the domestic dog.  Unfortunately, purebred singers have  all but vanished from New Guinea as European dogs have moved into the highlands. Today only about a hundred exist in captivity, the descendants of a handful of wild-caught animals, and most of those have been neutered or are too old to breed. Brisbin has a couple of pairs and has been working closely with Janice Koler-Matznick of Central Point, Oregon, an expert on singers who has founded the Primitive and Aboriginal Dog Society to promote the conservation of ancient canids.       As the singing dog adapted to the rigors of life in the wet forests of New Guinea, so did dogs elsewhere evolve to fit the local climate and conditions- both through natural selection and selective breeding by humans. There may have been hybridizing with wolves, coyotes and other wild canids, further stirring the genetic pot. Based on skeletal remains found at ancient village sites, it appears there were recognizably different types of domestic dogs thousands of years ago, from tiny toy-size breeds to animals with the heft of modern mastiffs.      While bones tell part of the story, they say little about a dog's outward appearance. Fortunately, in the case of early dogs in the Americas, pre-Columbian art, the accounts of early explorers and works of frontier artists fill in some of the blanks. The average Indian dog apparently looked like a dingo — with a fairly short coat, upcurved tail and upright ears. Judging from 19th-century paintings, the Iroquois raised dogs that would look at home in Brisbin's pack of Carolinas. 
   Along the Northwest coast around Vancouver Island and the Olympic Peninsula, the Makah and Coast Salish tribes kept two breeds, both now extinct — a typical, dingo-like village dog, and a smaller, longhaired variety with a tightly curled tail raised exclusively for its fur, which was woven into blankets. Dogs in the Arctic, sub-arctic and Great Plains, on the other hand, resembled wolves, with large frames, heavy coats and shaggy tails. Many explorers said they could scarcely tell the difference between a wolf and a Plains dog, which was well-known for its ability to drag heavy loads for humans.    "There's no doubt that the dog is closest to the wolf," says Juliet Clutton-Brock of the Natural History Museum of London, and one of the world's foremost authorities on the prehistory of domestic animals. Studies since the 1950s reveal many similarities between wolf and dog morphology and behavior, and experts have formed a consensus: the more than 400 breeds of domestic dog, from Chihuahuas to Saint Bernards, were descended from one of the small, southern Asian subspecies of the gray wolf — perhaps the Arabian wolf, or the Indian wolf immortalized by Rudyard Kipling.
   The oldest fossils of what are undisputedly dogs date from about 11,000 or 12,000 years ago in Southwest Asia, making dogs the oldest of all domesticated animals. Archaeozoologists — scientists who study the remains of animals in association with humans — assumed that the domestication process would have started much earlier, perhaps 15,000 years ago, in conjunction with the rise of permanent villages and the advent of agriculture.
   But in 1997, a team led by evolutionary biologists from the University of California at Los Angeles dropped a bombshell. After analyzing DNA from wolves and wild canids around the world, as well as from nearly 70 breeds of dogs, they concluded that dogs and wolves probably split off from each other originally more than 100,000 years ago — almost the same time that anatomically modern humans were first emerging, and long before anyone suspected domestication was possible. While hailed by some molecular biologists, the UCLA findings have been questioned by paleontologists and archaeozoologists.  Last August, at a symposium on the history of the domestic dog at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, sponsored by the International Council for Archaeozoology, the controversy was a major topic.        One explanation that might reconcile the archaeological record and the DNA findings is that the dog's ancestors were wolves that split off from other wolf lineages 100,000 years ago, even though dogs themselves didn't evolve until more recently. 
   While debate swirls around the timing of dog domestication, some experts are taking aim at the fundamental notion that dogs and other animals were domesticated through a human-directed process.        "The standard explanation of how domestication began — that people brought in young wild animals, which they tamed and bred over many years to produce domestic stock — is a myth," argues archaeozoologist Susan Crockford, an expert on the Northwest wool dog, and the organizer of the Victoria symposium.  
   For quite a while, biologists have believed that domestication took place over a long time: a period that would cover taming an animal, molding it from a wild form into a physically and behaviorally different creature.  That transition period should provide lots of intermediate forms in the archaeological record — only it doesn't. Instead, the bones of dogs suddenly pop up in archaeological sites about 12,000 years ago, at the same time humans were abandoning their hunter-gatherer culture.      Whether you're talking about dogs, sheep, cows, goats, pigs or water buffalo, there are consistent differences between the wild and domesticated forms. Compared with their wild cousins, most domestic mammals tend to be smaller, have shorter snouts, smaller brains and are more likely to be piebald or solid in color; they are more docile, reproduce at a younger age, have larger litters and have reproductive schedules, such as multiple breeding seasons in a single year, that differ from those of wild animals. Such changes also occur in domestic birds.
   Interestingly, all these differences are a consequence of changes in developmental rates, especially while the animal is young, which result in a sexually mature adult with the size and some of the characteristics of a juvenile of its ancestor — a condition known as paedomorphosis. And those developmental rates, in turn, all appear to be controlled directly or indirectly by a single biochemical: thyroxine, a hormone produced by the thyroid gland, which in turn regulates a suite of crucial growth and developmental genes. Thyroxine, Crockford believes, was the key to domestication changes.
   Crockford theorizes that in a sense, wild canids domesticated themselves. By creating a new environment, one in which food supplies were available to those wolves able to tolerate the presence of people, humans set the stage for rapid evolution. Fear is controlled, in part, by the adrenal gland, and adrenaline production, in turn, is one of the many biological functions controlled by thyroxine.       In Crockford's view, the less fearful wolves would thrive near settlements, scavenging garbage middens and filching meat from drying racks, breeding among themselves and reinforcing those attributes. Natural selection would favor canids with thyroxine levels that produce lower adrenal response. Any pups born with a more fearful nature would simply drift away from the villages, back into the wilderness. After just a few generations, she believes, the wolves living near humans would exhibit reproductive, physical and behavioral differences, triggered by their new thyroxine patterns, that would set them apart from their wilder counterparts. They would have become primitive dogs. Only much later, long after primitive dogs had become genetically distinct and reproductively isolated from wolves, did humans begin exerting artificial selection to create distinct breeds.      Crockford cites intriguing evidence for her hypothesis. For 20 years starting in the 1950s, researchers in Siberia, trying to create a strain of silver fox that would be easier for fur-farm workers to manage, began selecting breeding pairs strictly on the basis of how calmly they behaved around people. Unintentionally, the Soviets were selecting foxes based at least in part on their thyroxine levels, Crockford contends. Within just 20 generations, foxes in the fearless strain had become markedly smaller, had undergone changes in their reproductive schedule, and had developed floppy cars, curled tails and piebald coats — precisely the traits that often separate dogs and wolves, and all of which are under the control of thyroxine.        "It may have taken only about 40 years, at two years per generation, for wolves to evolve into early dogs — perhaps more than that, but we can now look at that number as some sort of minimum. And 40 years is almost certainly too fast to pick up intermediate stages in the archaeological record", Crockford argues.
   While some scientists look toward the dog's past, others are casting a worried eye toward the future of primitive breeds. Brisbin thinks the Carolina dog is relatively secure, although the expansion of coyotes into the Southeast may be causing a reduction in their numbers. But others, like the Tengger dog in Java and the Falkland Islands "wolf,"' are extinct, and more are threatened.  Conservation organizations, already overburdened and overextended, rarely pay attention to domestic animals — even though many breeds represent important genetic diversity, and an irreplaceable slice of human and natural history.
   Which brings us back to the Carolina dogs. Are they, as some people claim, a direct link to the aboriginal past, or a recent construct of the canine melting pot?  
   Brisbin will keep working toward a major genetic study of the dogs. He also hopes to track wild Carolinas by fitting them with radio collars, to learn more about their habits, territory and prey.      But even if further research proves the Carolina is of modern origin, it still has much to tell us about natural selection and how, in a relatively short time, stray dogs were molded into an animal well suited to the wet, hot coastal plain of the Southeast. And that lesson alone, Brisbin and other researchers believe, makes this shy, lovely animal worthy of study and conservation.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Lord willin' & nothing slips by me, we will not be breeding this cycle.(for a Spring 2014 litter)
 As you know we only plan a litter when there is a full list of approved & waiting, committed Natural Rearing homes for our puppies, as well as everything working out wit
h family circumstances etc. Our family is expecting a (human)granddaughter this spring & we want to have plenty of time to spend focusing on this happy event! 
We do plan to have another litter in the future as I want to keep a girl for the future next generation of Naturally Reared Carolina Dogs.
So if you would like to secure your spot on the waiting list, Please read this page ( http://www.mycarolinadog.com/p/interested-in-puppy-or-dog.html ) and click on the link to the Prospective Puppy family Questionnaire. If approved, I will need a $100 deposit to assure that you are committed to a puppy.