BOOK REVIEW

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From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us about Life, Death, and Being Human by B.J. Hollars

Reviewed by Don Messerschmidt at http://portlandbookreview.com, February 4, 2016

FDrom the Mouths of Dogs_COVER

This book is for animal lovers, particularly dog lovers. It is best described as a combination of ethnographic memoir and sincere revelation of what dogs can do for us and what dogs and humans can learn from each other. B.J. Hollars is a creative writer who has a deep and abiding love for ‘man’s best friend,’ and an innate skill for conducting empathetic research seeking lessons to learn and to live by. In fact, the book’s 10 chapters are divided evenly into those two parts: I‒Lessons Learned, with chapter titles like ‘Sniffing for Trouble,’ ‘Old Dogs, New Shticks,’ and ‘I Left My Heart in Hartsdale’; and II‒Lessons Lived, with titles like ‘Bingo Was Her Name,’ ‘The Bionic Dog,’ and ‘Travels with Sandy.’

The book’s frontispiece is a photo of Hollars as a small boy with Sandy, his beloved dog. Several times in the book, he refers back to his affection for Sandy, who passed on years ago. But, it took him many years and the writing of this book before Hollars finally put the ashes of his childhood companion to rest, at the end of the story.

In the prologue, the author describes himself “not as a scientist, sociologist, or animal behaviorist, but as a humble writer and avid dog walker” who wonders what lessons can be gleaned from the dog at the end of the leash. And, he writes, “while this book may masquerade as a narrative on the human-animal bond, make no mistake, my primary interest remains with the humans. What can pets teach us? Or, to put it differently: what can we learn when we listen?”

Along the way he’s attentive to both dog and human behavior of all kinds, and how they interact. He pulls no punches and tells it like it is, about the lives and times of dogs and of their human caretakers (or is it the other way around?).

As we travel with B.J. Hollars around America’s upper Midwest and the East, he introduces us to a range of provocative issues, including dog rescue and contemporary pet care, animal cruelty, prosthetic devices for disabled pets, the pet industry in contemporary society and the economy, pet population statistics, how dogs impact human well-being and health, pet cemeteries, and the inspiration that our pets – especially dogs – give us.

Under how pets affect our general well being, he writes that owning a pet “appears to benefit virtually all people in some manner,” particularly seniors. Having a dog around, he says can “provide far more than a boost in morale; scientifically speaking, they boost the immune system as well. Recent studies have linked petting a dog with a drop in blood pressure, and owning one has the potential to fortify the heart, lower cholesterol, even help fight depression.”

On the flip side of the coin, meet Bruiser, a seriously impaired dog needing physical, emotional and moral support from his human companions. Bruiser suffers from bilateral elbow dysplasia; in short, he can’t walk. Under normal circumstances Bruiser would probably have been put down as a helpless cripple. But he wasn’t. Instead, he’s a cherished pet of proud owners.

So, how does he get around? – on the ‘Bruiser Cruiser,’ a device with wheels on which he has learned to scoot about.

His owners tell the book’s author some of the great lessons that Bruiser has taught them. One is “that you can’t believe in can’t… You have to be willing to try. Bruiser has more spunk and more spirit and more drive than most dogs.” And when people meet Bruiser they see a dog who can and does, and who silently tells us: “See me for what I am and not for what I have.”

The lesson learned by Bruiser’s story is No.3 in the book: ‘Don’t Believe in Can’t.” Some other lessons highlighted by the stories in this book are ‘Live Your Life with Hope,’ ‘Be Positive,’ and ‘Help Others Any Way You Can.’

This inspiring study is recommended for animal lovers, and for lovers of life in general.

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Kindle
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | iBooks

 

 

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Embracing the Wild in Your Dog by Bryan Bailey

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Embracing the Wild in Your Dog by Bryan Bailey

by Laura Novak on December 23, 2015
Publisher: Taming the Wild, LLC
Formats: Paperback, eBook, Kindle
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The book Embracing the Wild in Your Dog, by Bryan Bailey, discusses how dogs relate more to wolves than to our anthropomorphic notions of dogs. It explains and gives examples of how dogs behave in, react to, and experience the world through the eyes of their wolf ancestors. The book presents many common-sense scenarios on the behaviors that many dogs perform which owners struggle with today. The author ties in how these same types of behaviors can be explained away by looking at wolves, and how they actually play a vital role in wolves’ survival in the wild. The author presents plenty of evidence to support his case that dogs behave like wolves despite many decades of selective breeding.

Written in first-person narrative the book is informative and well written. Grammar and editing is correct with few errors, if any. The author presents his information clearly and professionally, but does sometimes become repetitive about a specific subject and starts to ramble, making his chapters slightly long. He makes up for it, though, by keeping the reader intrigued with small stories of his personal experiences. His writing, while coherent, does not follow a linear progression, and sometimes the timeline is hard to follow if the reader is not paying close attention. The author enthralls his readers by relaying many stories of his experiences along the way, giving a more personal insight of his individual involvement with his clients. This also helps the readers relate to specific situations in the book and causes the reader to become invested emotionally. Selected quotes from other sources headline each chapter and give a poetic introduction to the subject matter about to be discussed.

Overall the book is captivating, well written, and very informative. It allows people to come to a better understanding of dog behavior, dogs’ wolf ancestry, and why they continue to display many of the same survival mannerisms today. It also points out how our mistaken perception of our pets as small, furry human beings is completely incorrect.


Interview with Bryan Bailey

Q. Why do you think it is so important for potential dog owners to understand dog behaviors relating to wolves?

A. All dog behaviors find their roots in wolf behaviors. Selective pressures created by thousands of years of domestication have caused some behaviors in dogs not to activate as readily as they would have with a wolf, but nevertheless, the behaviors are still there. Therefore, if you ever strive to modify your dog’s behavior to conform to your human existence, you will need to understand and address the natural mechanisms given to the wolf by nature to enable it to survive in a non-human existence. This is necessary because the wolf passed these same mechanisms to our dogs who continue to use them even though they live with humans. Dog owners who are not aware of these natural mechanisms will approach their dog’s training from a humanistic standpoint and try to train it like they would a human. Unfortunately, successful methodologies used in modifying human behavior fail to modify wolf and dog behavior.

Q. How do you feel your background experience has helped you to see and understand that dogs behaved as wolves and how does that knowledge tie in with how you interact with teaching dog owners?

A. My ability to observe wolves in the wild, that had yet to become fearful of humans, coupled with the many insights passed to me by my mentor regarding their behavior, was truly a blessing and became the cornerstone of my future studies and teachings. For over thirty years, my clients have benefited from my knowledge because I have taught them how to view the world through the eyes of a domestic wolf and not a little person in a fur coat. By doing so, they were able to adjust their dog’s behavior in a way that their dog easily and readily understood, resulting in a more reliable response to their commands and with more spirit.

Q. In your book you tend to portray owning dogs as a much more difficult task and some would say that after reading this book, owning a dog breed with the potential of behavior issues would be the last thing they’d want to contend with. What would you say to this?

A. Owning a dog is not difficult at all. Owning a well-behaved dog that conforms peacefully, cooperatively, and safely with you and your family is what is difficult if you are today’s average American dog owner. I explain why I believe this in the chapter titled, “Will.” As for the second part of the question, contending with dog breeds with the potential of deadly aggression should be more of a concern than contending with those that have the potential of behavior issues in general. For example, all dogs have the potential to bite, as five million Americans per year can attest to, but it’s worth noting that some breeds, like Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, have actually caused hundreds of fatalities in the U.S. Therefore, if you are an inexperienced dog owner, or you have young children, you may wish to contend with a dog breed that has proven to have a lesser potential to harm you or your children.

Q. In the book you state that this book is not a dog obedience book, but rather a book about developing a deeper understanding of what drives your dogs behaviors. How valuable do you feel this information is when wanting to begin obedience training for your dog?

A. Before one embarks on repairing or modifying a watch, is it not important that one knows first how the watch works? If you wish to successfully train your dog not to jump on you or your guests, would it not be beneficial to understand why your dog wishes to jump on you in the first place? If you wish to train your dog to fetch a ball, would it not be beneficial to you and your dog (so you don’t get mad when he/she doesn’t fetch) to understand why your dog does not naturally fetch? Why your dog NATURALLY does every behavior it does is the first step in adjusting those very behaviors.

Q. This book doesn’t go over obsessive behaviors like barking, chewing, or digging. Is this something you are thinking of addressing in the future, possibly in another book?

A. Indeed. I am currently writing my second book titled, The Hammer – Understanding, Treating and Preventing Canine Aggression, which will be published mid-summer 2016. Afterward, I will write my third book titled, Taming the Wild in Your Dog. Whereas my first book creates an understanding of dog behavior, this book will teach readers how to use their new found understanding to train their dogs.

Q. What overall message concerning dogs do you most wish readers to take away from this book?

A. “From the wild wolf who is perfectly suited for its world, she created a wolf that is perfectly suited for ours. But, like a wonderful gift that has been left unopened, our imaginations have fabricated something inside nature’s gift that we humans desire and not what was given. If we would only find the will to open the box, we would discover something far greater. Staring up out of the box would be a domestic wolf born of a rich heritage and carved from the wild. With its behavior wrapped in the trappings of steadfast predictability, this creature would provide us with trustworthy companionship and the tranquility that comes from understanding and accepting it for what it is and not for what we wish it to be. In a paradoxical way, we would actually get what we really desire.”

Excerpt From: “Embracing the Wild in Your Dog.” Understand and accept the dog for what it is and not what you wish it to be. Embrace this gift from nature.

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More on the Mongolian Bhankar Dog & Dog Origins in General

The Mongolian Bankhar Project, from the Institute of Canine Biology

Mongolian Bankhar Project

Coordinator: Bruce Elfstrom MS (Nomadic Guardian’s Foundation), Douglas Lally (Scientific Field Coordinator),
Scientific Team: 
Carol Beuchat PhD (Institute of Canine Biology, and UC Berkeley), Sundev Gombobaatar PhD (Univ of Mongolia), Pieter Oliehoek PhD (Institute of Canine Biology), Adam Boyko PhD (Cornell Univ), Bridgett VonHoldt PhD (Princeton Univ). (launched January 2014)
REPORTS FROM THE FIELD


Picture© Bruce Elfstrom

Background

For hundreds of years, Mongolia’s nomadic herders have relied on a native dog, the Bankhar, to protect their livestock from predation by the Mongolian gray wolf and snow leopard.  This ancient and effective way of guarding livestock was lost during the Soviet occupation.  Since then, the nomads have turned by necessity to shooting and poisoning potential predators, which are now threatened by diminishing numbers.

Bruce has seen firsthand the devastation to the lives of a Nomadic family should a wolf or leopard take some of their stock.  “…I was amazed, one evening a family lost 7 colt horses…”.  In 2004, with his partners in Mongolia, Bruce launched The Nomadic Guardian’s Foundation with the goal of returning the Bankhar dog to its traditional role as protector of the livestock for the nomads, saving both the dogs and the wolves from extinction in an ecologically sound way.  This is a Mongolian solution to a Mongolian problem based on ancient Mongolian tradition.


Bruce’s team will be making a trip to Ulaanbaatar in February 2014 with the following goals:

  • locating Bankhar that are still being used as working dogs;
  • gathering blood samples for molecular genetics;
  • inspecting kennels at Hustai National Park for possible use;
  • establishing breeding pairs in residence with sheep under the guidance of Dr Sundev Gombobaatar (Univ. of Mongolia).

From his trips to Mongolia over the years leading overland expeditions with his company, Overland Experts, Bruce has established relationships with many people and organizations that are coming together to help with the project.  Bruce is committed to learning as much about the history and genetics of this rare breed as possible and is partnering with the Institute of Canine Biology to facilitate those efforts.

If you’ve never seen one of these dogs – or even if you have – check these out –

  • Some wonderful photos
  • Great video (check out the whelping box!)
  • More vintage video 
  • Bankhar at a Mongolian dog show
  • Stunning photography of Mongolia
  • More gorgeous photography from one of project leader Bruce Elfstrom’s trips to Mongolia

Source: http://www.instituteofcaninebiology.org/mongolian-bankhar.html

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The Big Bankhar Livestock Guardian Dogs of Mongolia

The Himalayan Times (Kathmandu), December 20, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mongolian dog tradition revived to protect sheep, leopards

In this photo taken Nov. 13, 2015, Chulunjav Bayarsaikhan poses for photos with Hassar, a shaggy, 11-month-old bankhar puppy, in Tuv Province, Mongolia. As years of overgrazing increasingly push Mongolian nomads into the territory of their oldest foes - snow leopards and wolves - a group of researchers and herders are trying to reinstate the bankhar, a close relative of the Tibetan mastiff, to its historic place beside their masters. The dog is native to Mongolia but nearly disappeared over the course of mass urbanization drives during the Soviet era. (AP Photo/Grace Brown)

In this photo taken Nov. 13, 2015, Chulunjav Bayarsaikhan poses for photos with Hassar, a shaggy, 11-month-old bankhar puppy, in Tuv Province, Mongolia. As years of overgrazing increasingly push Mongolian nomads into the territory of their oldest foes – snow leopards and wolves – a group of researchers and herders are trying to reinstate the bankhar, a close relative of the Tibetan mastiff, to its historic place beside their masters. The dog is native to Mongolia but nearly disappeared over the course of mass urbanization drives during the Soviet era. (AP Photo/Grace Brown)

TUV AIMAG: Through three decades of marriage, they have wandered together across the rolling hills of Mongolia’s northern Tuv Province, accompanied by their herd of sheep and stalked by the wolves and snow leopards that threaten their livelihood.
Five months ago, Chulunjav Bayarsaikhan and Tumurbaatar Davaasuren were joined by a new partner, Hasar, a shaggy, 11-month-old bankhar dog that a hundred years ago would have been a far more common sight outside the country’s tent homes known as gers.
“Now, nothing comes near our herd at night,” Tumurbaatar said. “If anything does, she barks in an alarming way, so we come out before it can attack. She learned to patrol all night and is protecting them well.”
As years of overgrazing increasingly push Mongolian nomads into the territory of their oldest foes — snow leopards and wolves — a group of researchers and herders are trying to reinstate the bankhar, a close relative of the Tibetan mastiff, to its historic place beside their masters. The dog is native to Mongolia but nearly disappeared over the course of mass urbanization drives during the Soviet era.
DNA analysis conducted by Cornell researchers and released this year points to Mongolia as the location where domesticated dogs first appeared some 15,000 years ago. That makes the bankhar even more of a Mongolian icon.
For thousands of years, the giant dogs roamed the Mongolian steppes with their nomadic masters, so much a part of the landscape that they featured in Chinese Qing Dynasty paintings of Mongolia and the 13th century travelogues of Marco Polo.

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Now THIS is another kind of Livestock Guardian Dog!

BBC Magazine

The dogs that protect little penguins

  • 14 December 2015
  • From the section Magazine
 Penguin and sheepdog
Image copyright Global screen

When foxes discovered little penguins on a small Australian island, they nearly wiped the colony out. But a farmer came up with a novel way to protect the birds – and the story has been made into a hit film.

As a premise for a film, think Lassie meets Babe meets Pingu. What’s not to like?

Middle Island, a beautiful, rugged and windswept outcrop off the coast of southern Victoria is home to a colony of the world’s smallest penguins.

Originally known as fairy penguins, before some pen-pusher deemed that politically incorrect, they’ve now been given the far more dreary sounding title of little penguins.

To be fair, they are just that – little, standing at 30 to 40cm tall.

There used to be hundreds of them on Middle Island – but that was before the foxes got to them.


Middle Island mapFind out more

Hear Jon Donnison’s report on the PM programme on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 14 December from 17:00, or listen now on iPlayer radio.


“We went from a point where we had around 800 penguins down to where we could only find four,” says Peter Abbott from the Penguin Preservation Project.

“In our biggest bird kill, we found 360 birds killed over about two nights. Foxes are thrill killers. They’ll kill anything they can find.”

That particular incident was in 2005, but the problem had been building up for a few years. Middle Island – which is uninhabited by humans – is separated from the mainland by a stretch of water measuring no more than 20 or 30m.

At low tide, and when sand builds up in the narrow channel, foxes can cross from the mainland barely getting their paws wet.

The problem first became apparent in the year 2000 when the sea’s natural current led to increased sand build-up.

Over time the fox population grew as it became clear they had an easy source of food.

The fairy penguins, as I’m going to call them, faced being wiped out on Middle Island – until a chicken farmer, by the made-for-cinema name of Swampy Marsh, came up with a plan. He suggested sending one of his Maremma dogs to protect the birds.

“In Australia those dogs are generally used for chicken protection or goats or sheep,” says Abbott.

Penguin guardian in training Image copyright Warrnambool Council

The dog, the first of several to be used on Middle Island, was called Oddball – and Oddball made quite an impact.

“We immediately saw a change in the pattern of the foxes,” says Abbott.

“Leading up to when the dog went on the island, every morning we’d find fox prints on the beach. Putting a dog on the island changed the hierarchy. The foxes can hear the dogs barking, they can smell them so they go somewhere else.”

Amazingly, since Oddball and his four-legged successors were introduced 10 years ago, there has not been a single penguin killed by a fox on Middle Island.


Little penguins

Little penguinsImage copyright Global Screen
  • Also known as blue penguins, little blue penguins and fairy penguins
  • Smallest of all known penguin species, made up of six subspecies, they live in Australia and New Zealand
  • Most are monogamous and breeding pairs tend to return to the same nest year after year
  • Successful mating produces a clutch of two eggs, which hatch after 35-37 days

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica


The fairy penguin population has gone back up to almost 200.

The current dogs patrolling Middle Island are Eudy and Tula, named after the scientific term for the fairy penguin: Eudyptula.

They are the sixth and seventh dogs to be used and a new puppy is being trained up by Peter Abbott and his team to start work in 2016.

The dogs operate in the penguin’s breeding season, usually from October to March, when they spend five or six days a week on the island.

Even when the dogs are not there, their lingering scent is enough to keep the foxes away.

Scene from the film OddballImage copyright Greg Noakes
Image caption The film Oddball has boosted tourism in the area

The project has been such a success that a movie called Oddball has been made about it.

“It’s a great story. We’re trying to save a cute penguin with a couple of cute dogs but the movie has taken things to a different level,” says Abbott.

The film has already taken around 11m Australian dollars ($8m; £5.3m) at the box office here and is now heading for global audiences.

“The movie had been in the pipeline for many years,” says Kristen Abbott from the Middle Island Project Committee.

“Many of us thought, ‘Yeah, we’ll believe it when we see it,’ and then suddenly it was pandemonium in the town with video cameras and actors everywhere.”

Scene from the film OddballImage copyright Greg Noakes

It has provided a huge boost for tourism – and in the summer months people can visit the island on a “Meet the Maremma Tour”.

“It’s been one of the best things that’s happened for a long time,” says John Watson who runs a local hotel.

“It’s filled a lot of extra bed nights for us with tourists coming down to either meet the dogs or do a tour of the island.”

Many of the locals appeared as characters in the film and others worked as extras on set.

“My character was played by an American actor,” says Peter Abbott. “I tell people it’s because they couldn’t find an Australian as good looking as me.”

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#DOGORIGINS New Research on Dog Origins…, from SE Asia? http://bit.ly/1T1BCrQ and www.LiteraryDogs.com

New twist in tale of dogs’ origins

Date: December 16, 2015
Source: KTH The Royal Institute of Technology
Summary: The origin of dogs has inspired a lingering controversy in academia. Where and when did dogs first split off from wolves? Now a top-dog researcher hopes his latest research will finally settle the matter.
Site This Source:
KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. “New twist in tale of dogs’ origins.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 December 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151216082339.htm>.

This study provides strong evidence that the dog originated in South East Asia, which confirms earlier studies of Mitochondrial DNA. (Stock image)
Credit: © Lunja / Fotolia

The origin of dogs has inspired a lingering controversy in academia. Where and when did dogs first split off from wolves? One of the top dogs in this dispute, population genetics expert Peter Savolainen of Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, isn’t about to roll over. He hopes his latest research will finally settle the matter.

Some researchers say canines first split off from wolves in the Middle East; others say it happened in Europe. But Savolainen has long held that dogs originated in South East Asia alone, and he says his team has compiled new evidence that confirms his earlier findings.

The study concludes that the split with wolves occurred about 33,000 years ago.

Savolainen’s earlier studies were based on analysis of mitochondrial DNA. But recently other researchers have used data from nuclear DNA to refute those findings, arguing that dogs originated in the Middle East, Central Asia or Europe.

But apparently, those researchers were thrown off the scent, according to Savolainen. The data they relied on did not include samples from South East Asia, he says. So if, as Savolainen says, dogs did indeed come from South East Asia, these studies would not have been able to detect it.

“Which is why we analysed the entire nuclear genome of a global sample collection from 46 dogs, which includes samples from southern China and South East Asia,” he says. “We then found out that dogs from South East Asia stand out from all other dog populations, because they have the highest genetic diversity and are genetically closest to the wolf.”

Savolainen says this provides strong evidence that the dog originated in South East Asia, which confirms his earlier studies of Mitochondrial DNA.

“We also found that the global dog population is based on two important events: the dog and wolf populations first began to split off about 33,000 years ago in South East Asia. The global spread of dogs followed about 18,000 years later.

He says one explanation for the split between dogs and wolves 33,000 years ago could be that the wolf population became divided and the south Chinese wolf developed into dogs. In that case, it is possible the global spread of dogs out of South East Asia is associated with domestication.

“The dog’s story thus appears to have begun 33,000 years ago, but the exact path to the fully-domesticated dogs that spread throughout the world 15,000 years ago is not yet clear.”


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Guo-Dong Wang, Weiwei Zhai, He-Chuan Yang, Lu Wang, Li Zhong, Yan-Hu Liu, Ruo-Xi Fan, Ting-Ting Yin, Chun-Ling Zhu, Andrei D Poyarkov, David M Irwin, Marjo K Hytönen, Hannes Lohi, Chung-I Wu, Peter Savolainen, Ya-Ping Zhang. Out of southern East Asia: the natural history of domestic dogs across the world. Cell Research, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/cr.2015.147

 
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DNA Shows Dogs May have Evolved near Nepal and Mongolia

ASSOCIATED PRESS

File- A police officer sprinkles colored powder and petals onto a police dog at Nepal’s Central Police Dog Training School as part of the Tihar festival Kathmandu, Nepal. Photo: AP

NEW YORK: Where did dogs first arrive on the scene? Scientists have long debated that question, and now a study of doggie DNA from around the world is pointing to Central Asia.

Man’s best friend may have evolved somewhere near what is now Nepal and Mongolia, researchers say.
Previous studies suggested that man’s best friend first evolved from wolves in China, the Middle East, Siberia and Europe, at least 15,000 years ago, Daily Mail reported.

The results of research by a team led by Adam Boyko of New York’s Cornell University were released by Washington-based journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” on Monday.

The team analysed DNA from 549 dogs that represented 38 countries in Africa, the US, Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East and islands north and east of Australia.

They said the animals were not house pets, but rather ‘village dogs’ that wandered freely in the streets or fields. The analysis, however, did not tackle the contentious question of when dogs appeared.

“I am not pretending my study alone is enough to rally the community together,” Boyko said.

Meanwhile, some other scientists did not buy the conclusion and questioned the results.

Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles, who proposed a European origin for dogs in 2013 based on analysis of ancient DNA, questioned Boyko’s use of modern-day genetic material as a guide to the distant past.

Another expert, Greger Larson of Oxford University, heaped praise on Boyko and said the paper is a ‘major step forward’ but suspected the use of modern DNA to get correct results.

“Now that Asia has been added to the mix, ‘Everyone with a favourite region can point to at least one paper that supports their suspicions’,” Larson said.

Previous studies have suggested southern China, the Middle East, Siberia and Europe as the place where our first domesticated animal arose from wolves at least 15,000 years ago.

For the new work, Adam Boyko of Cornell University and others analyzed DNA from 549 dogs that represented 38 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East and islands north and east of Australia. The animals weren’t house pets, but rather “village dogs” that wandered freely in the streets or fields.

The researchers examined the DNA for signals of where the dogs had the most ancient roots. That pointed to Central Asia. The analysis did not tackle the contentious question of when dogs appeared.

Dogs play on a street in Lumbini, Nepal. A new study suggests that the most ancient origins of man’s best friend were in the area of Nepal and Mongolia. 2012. Photo: AP/File

Results were reported in a paper released Monday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Even Boyko doesn’t think the work will end the debate among scientists.

“I’m not pretending my study alone is enough to rally the community together,” he said.

He’s right. Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles, who proposed a European origin for dogs in 2013 based on analysis of ancient DNA, said he didn’t buy the conclusion about Central Asia. In an email, he questioned Boyko’s use of modern-day genetic material as a guide to the distant past.

Another expert, Greger Larson of Oxford University, called the paper “a major step forward” but said he also suspected that modern DNA isn’t the way to go.

Now that Central Asia has been added to the mix, “Everyone with a favorite region can point to at least one paper that supports their suspicions,” Larson wrote in an email.

Larson is involved in an international project to tackle the question with ancient DNA and anatomical comparisons.

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