Category Archives: dog breeds

Jimmy the Bull

On artist’s Rafael Mantesso’s thirtieth birthday, his wife left him.

She took their cookware, their furniture, their photos.  But she left Rafael with Jimmy, their bull terrier who she had named after shoe designer Jimmy Choo.

With only Jimmy for company in an apartment painted white, Rafael found inspiration in his blank walls and his best friend and started snapping photos of Jimmy Choo.  Then, when Jimmy collapsed in happy exhaustion next to the white wall, on a whim Rafael grabbed a marker and drew a new world around his pup.

Jimmy with champagne

And this began a collaboration of the artist and his bull terrier which gained fame through social media – even attracting the attention of the Jimmy Choo brand.  In May 2015, they launched a limited edition line of accessories featuring Jimmy the Bull.

Jimmy Stop Wars

And a book of Mantesso’s drawings, A Dog Named Jimmy is also available.  In November 2015, it made the New York Times bestseller list.

A Dog named Jimmy

I love bullies and clearly many other people do, too.  Jimmy even has a 2016 calendar featuring his image.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand


Christmas house guest

It’s been a busy week and so the blog has been quieter than normal.  Then yesterday, on Christmas Eve, I got a text from another greyhound owner.  His kennel plans had fallen through and he wondered if I could take his dog, Sala, for a couple of days.

No worries!

Bed switching

To make a house guest feel welcome, you let them sleep in your bed. You sleep in theirs.

Izzy has enjoyed having a playmate today (Christmas Day).  We went for an off-leash run at the Groynes dog park.

Izzy at Groynes

And after a breakfast, it was time for a big rest.

Greyhound on sofa

Izzy never goes on the sofa (she prefers the queen-sized bed). Sala found it quite comfortable, however.

Then it was time to tuck into the pigs ears that Sala’s Dad brought:

Followed later by an afternoon walk, and some cooked liver over dog food.  We are once again settling in for the night and more play time tomorrow.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand


First puppies born by in vitro fertilization

Researchers from Cornell University and the Smithsonian Institution have solved the decades-long puzzle of canine in vitro fertilization (IVF), resulting in the world’s first litter of IVF puppies.

Photo by Mike Carroll, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Photo by Mike Carroll, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

The breakthrough, described in a study published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE, opens the door for preserving endangered canid species using assisted reproduction techniques. It could also enable researchers to eradicate heritable diseases in dogs and facilitate the study of genetic diseases in dogs and humans, which share many of the same or similar illnesses.

Researchers at the Cornell laboratory transferred 19 embryos to a host female dog, who gave birth last spring to seven healthy puppies. Genetic testing shows that two are from a beagle mother and a cocker spaniel father, and five from two pairings of beagle fathers and mothers.

“Since the mid-1970s, people have been trying to do [IVF] in a dog and have been unsuccessful,” said co-author Alex Travis, associate professor of reproductive biology at the Baker Institute for Animal Health in Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The paper’s first author, Jennifer Nagashima, was a graduate student whose participation in the project was funded by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. The National Institutes of Health and the Baker Institute provided funding for the project itself.

Laboratories perform successful IVF with other mammals—including humans—by retrieving mature eggs and sperm and combining them in an artificial environment to produce embryos. The embryos are transferred to a host female at the right time in her reproductive cycle.

Past attempts at canine IVF failed because a female dog’s reproductive cycle differs from that of other mammals. Canine eggs retrieved at the same stage of cell maturation as other animals failed to fertilize. By applying the oocyte biology expertise of SCBI’s Nucharin Songsasen, a research biologist and co-author, the team found that if they left the egg in the oviduct one extra day, the eggs reached the stage where fertilization was most likely to occur.

In addition, the female canine tract plays a role in preparing sperm for fertilization, so researchers had to simulate those conditions in the lab. Building on Travis’s earlier work on sperm physiology, the team found that sperm could be artificially prepared by adding magnesium to the cell culture.

“We made those two changes, and now we achieve success in fertilization rates at 80 to 90 percent,” Travis said.

The final challenge arises because female dogs can only become pregnant once or twice a year. This means embryos must be created ahead of time and preserved until the host female is at the right point in her cycle.

The birth of IVF puppies has wide implications for wildlife conservation. “We can freeze and bank sperm, and use it for artificial insemination,” Travis said. “We can also freeze oocytes, but in the absence of in vitro fertilization, we couldn’t use them. Now we can use this technique to conserve the genetics of endangered species.” The method can also be used to preserve rare breeds of show and working dogs.

In addition, embryonic dogs now offer a “powerful tool for understanding the genetic basis of diseases” in canines and humans, Travis said. Dogs share more than 350 similar heritable disorders and traits with humans, almost twice the number as any other species.

A successful IVF process for canines may one day enable researchers to remove genetic diseases and traits in an embryo, ridding dogs of heritable diseases such as lymphoma, a cancer that is more prevalent in breeds like Golden Retrievers. “With a combination of gene editing techniques and IVF, we can potentially prevent genetic disease before it starts,” Travis said.

Source:  Cornell University media release


Izzy’s visit with Santa

I have made it a tradition that all my dogs get one official Christmas photograph.  Last year, Izzy had only been with me for about 6 weeks and was still adjusting to life as a pet.  I decided it was too soon for a visit with Santa.

This year is another story and so on Saturday, I took Izzy to a local ‘big retail’ pet store for a Santa photo.  I am glad we got there early and were first in line because the store was very cramped and with people rapidly lining up for photos, there was little room to move in the aisles.

Snarls and growls down the line were heard (often).

I think it is great that the store offered pet photos, but I think they could do more to welcome visitors by temporarily moving displays.  But, alas, let’s face it – Christmas is shopping season and no retailer will do this.

Izzy patiently waited her turn watching the photographer and his assistant, who were running late, set up.  And then she saw the cage of pet rats…she was very interested.

Izzy waiting for Santa

Izzy sees rats at the pet store

This is the unofficial photograph; we are expecting the official print portrait in a couple of days.   I’m looking forward to adding it to the family album.

Izzy the greyhound on Santa's knee

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The great escape – an example of dog intelligence

Any reader of my blog knows that I enjoy following research topics, and I’ve written a number of posts about dog cognition.

This video, of a German Short Haired Pointer, shows that dogs are smart and can work things out.

She’s working on her great escape…watch her as she works it out (don’t just jump to the end)

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Ivermectin sensitivity in herding breed dogs

Owners of herding breed dogs should be aware of their possible sensitivity to ivermectin, an active ingredient used in worming products for livestock and also in heartworm preventative drugs.  A genetic test is available to check for this sensitivity.

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University has recently published the story of Bristol, a 4-year-old Australian Shepherd, who presented with persistent seizures.

Bristol recovered from ivermectin poisoning but it required a 40-day stay in hospital. Credit: Andy Cunningham, Tufts University

Bristol recovered from ivermectin poisoning but it required a 40-day stay in hospital.
Credit: Andy Cunningham, Tufts University

Bristol required immediate and aggressive care, including the assistance of a mechanical ventilator. She also underwent a brain MRI to rule out other causes of her condition. “It took a great amount of intervention, without which this condition would have been fatal,” said Dr. Terri O’Toole, D.V.M., one of a team of critical care specialists overseeing Bristol’s care.

Ivermectin toxicity is characterised by the chemical crossing the blood-brain barrier and causing neurological damage.

Although Bristol began to breathe on her own within 10 days, she remained unconscious for three weeks. Eventually, she began walking with the assistance of a cart and leg splints, and later began walking under her own power with support from hospital staff.

After a month of treatment, Bristol regained her normal personality traits and the ability to walk, eat and drink on her own.   She was in hospital for 40 days.

Tufts treats only one or two cases of ivermectin toxicity each year, and they are most frequently the result of accidents, such as when dogs are exposed to higher-dose ivermectin products intended for horses.

Although products containing ivermectin are typically safe and effective, many white-footed herding breed dogs like Bristol have a genetic mutation that makes them sensitive to it and several other drugs, including some common chemotherapy drugs. O’Toole recommends that owners have their herding breed dogs undergo a simple genetic test to determine if they have a mutation in the multidrug resistance (MDR1) gene.

Getting the gene mutation test would enable them to know for sure if they could safely use some of these other drugs,” said O’Toole. “The kits are readily available through veterinarians, and they include a small brush that you use to take a swab of the inside of the dog’s mouth.” The swab is sent to a testing lab at Washington State University.

Many herding breed dog owners are aware of the risk and use alternative medicines, as was the case with Bristol’s owner. However, Bristol was exposed to ivermectin indirectly. While at a herding lesson, she ingested the feces of sheep that had recently been de-wormed with a product containing ivermectin.

O’Toole said the case highlights the need for owners to be vigilant when their dogs are in certain settings, such as on farms or in barns, where other animals might have been treated with high concentrations of ivermectin.

Source:  TuftsNow media release


The Peanuts Movie

Opening next month, Snoopy is coming to the big screen!

I like the look of the animations in this trailer; Snoopy and Woodstock look like the cartoons that I remember which were originally drawn by the late Charles M Schulz.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand