Tag Archives: dogs

Ashley, 2008-2017

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This is a post I hoped I would never have to write.

Long-time readers will remember Ashley, our beloved Bangkok street dog, whom we adopted in 2009.

About two weeks ago, on March 7, Ashley died after a brief illness.

Above is a photo from the day we adopted her from an organization that rescued “soi dogs,” as they’re called, in Bangkok.

It’s one of our favorite images of Ashley, since it was such a happy day for us — and because we joke that Ashley looks like she’s laughing in the photo, having tricked her way into a “forever home” as a year-old dog at a time when other owners were snapping up much younger, often cuter puppies from the organzation that saved her.

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Here’s a recent pic of her, from before she got sick.

A and I are still trying to process the news and live with the reality of coming home to an empty house, no longer taking walks with her, and living without her constant companionship on the couch, in the den, in the kitchen and nearly everywhere in between.

She was by our side in Bangkok for five years, then with us in Singapore for two and a half years, and then here in Delhi with us since we moved here last summer.

We adopted her when she was about a year old, and she would have turned nine this August.

(You can read about her history in this post and this one, and here’s one I wrote on the fifth anniversary of adopting her.)

Ashley was no longer a puppy, of course, and she had started to slow down ever so slightly in recent months. While she had some health issues before we adopted her, she was a pretty robust dog, and we expected to have much more time with her. And that’s part of what makes saying goodbye so difficult.

She loved our house here in New Delhi, with our small yard and its many sights and sounds: birds to eye, squirrels to chase, fellow street dogs to romp with, cats to pester.

Ash developed a cough a month or so back, and a subsequent ultrasound revealed a large mass in her abdomen that we later learned was cancerous.

She underwent surgery not long afterwards, and the mass was removed, but she never rebounded fully, and she succumbed to multi-organ failure just a few days later. Fortunately we were with her during her final days and hours, patting her head, stroking her back, and just keeping her company.

She was so weak in her final days that she had to be carried everywhere, yet her puppy-like enthusiasm remained; just an hour before she died, even though she could barely sit up on her own, I took her leash down from a coat rack near the door and she wagged her tail vigorously, looking up at me with her big black eyes.

When she passed away, we had her cremated here in Delhi, and the very sympathetic workers at the facility gave us her ashes in a lovely urn. Now it sits, with her collar and a painting of her A gave me as a gift years ago, on our mantle. (See the photo at the bottom of this post.)

Rather than dwell on her sickness — really just a week or two of the nearly nine years she lived — we have been trying to focus on all the fun we had with her.

Here, to have them all in one place, are a bunch of my favorite photos of her. I’ve posted some of these before, but others are new.

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As a puppy, before we adopted her

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She was in really rough shape

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But was soon…

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…On her way to health

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How she looked when we adopted her

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On the way home, day one

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Taking a nap at home in Bangkok, not long after we adopted her

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A happy, high energy pup

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A favorite past time: hanging out on the balcony.

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At the beach in Thailand

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One funny thing: she liked the beach but hated getting near any kind of water

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Sand on the nose

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At home in Singapore

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On one of many long walks we took in the city-state

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On the couch and in my face, likely because I was eating a snack

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On a jaunt in Singapore

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At Singapore’s Bishan Park

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Looking quizzical

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“Can I please have some of that lamb you’re cooking?”

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If her morning walk was ever delayed, you might open your eyes to see this, with her unruly ear fur — tendrils, we called them — blowing in the air conditioning

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At home in Singapore

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On our balcony here in New Delhi

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On the bed

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After her surgery, wearing a T-shirt to protect the stitches

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RIP, Ashley

I really, really loved that little ball of fur.

Rise of the ‘Coyowolf’ — Part Wolf, Part Dog, Part Coyote

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The Economist reports:

Like some people who might rather not admit it, wolves faced with a scarcity of potential sexual partners are not beneath lowering their standards. It was desperation of this sort, biologists reckon, that led dwindling wolf populations in southern Ontario to begin, a century or two ago, breeding widely with dogs and coyotes. The clearance of forests for farming, together with the deliberate persecution which wolves often suffer at the hand of man, had made life tough for the species. That same forest clearance, though, both permitted coyotes to spread from their prairie homeland into areas hitherto exclusively lupine, and brought the dogs that accompanied the farmers into the mix.

Interbreeding between animal species usually leads to offspring less vigorous than either parent—if they survive at all. But the combination of wolf, coyote and dog DNA that resulted from this reproductive necessity generated an exception. The consequence has been booming numbers of an extraordinarily fit new animal (see picture) spreading through the eastern part of North America. Some call this creature the eastern coyote. Others, though, have dubbed it the “coywolf”. Whatever name it goes by, Roland Kays of North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, reckons it now numbers in the millions.

Fascinating stuff. It’s not every day, as the story says, that scientists are able to witness a new species being formed.

There’s more from Smithsonian.com and Fusion. PBS even has an infographic.

Related Newley.com post from 2013: What Domesticating Siberian Foxes May Tell Us About Dogs:

The gist: Over the course of more than 40 years, scientists took normal foxes, which were aggressive toward humans, and looked for the tamest ones.

Then they bred them.

In just a few generations, the foxes — animals that would typically attack humans when threatened — had become completely tame creatures that snuggled the scientists rather than biting their hands.

What’s more, over time, the foxes started to look like…dogs.

Cute dogs.

To take this one step further, friends, I ask you: Can it be long before people start trying to domesticate coyowolves?

Maybe it’s already happening?

Would they domesticate more quickly than wolves or coyotes, due to their canine DNA?

It’s Been 5 Years Since We Adopted Our Dog, Ashley

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August marked five years since we adopted Ashely, our beloved shelter dog. Here’s a pic from the day we took her home in Bangkok in 2009. She’s six years old now, as she was a year old when we got her.

As you can see — and as I’ve noted in previous posts — she was was suffering from various medical ailments when some kind people rescued her from the mean streets of Bangkok.

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The big-hearted folks at the now-defunct Soi Cats and Dogs (SCAD) Bangkok had Ash fixed up in no time, though:

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Fast forward five years, and moving to Singapore earlier this year meant 30 days in quarantine upon arrival, but Ash did just fine.

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Here’s a pic from a visit I paid her.

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And here’s A and Ash during another visit.

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Once she was sprung from solitary, Ashley really took to Singapore — and especially its many green spaces. Here she is during some recent outings.

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Overall, Ashley remains somewhat puppy-like, both in appearance — people often ask us how old our “puppy” is — and behavior.

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Her likes remain: running (I often take her along on jogs); chasing small animals; and eating any and all foods, especially fish and meats, rice, and coconut milk.

Dislikes: vacuum cleaners; swimming; and knocks at the door.

Oh, and she also hates the rare occasions when her morning walks are delayed. I have more than once woken up to this somewhat unsettling sight:

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Here’s to the next five years!

What Domesticating Siberian Foxes May Tell Us About Dogs

I recently watched a fascinating segment of the 2009 BBC show “The Secret Life of the Dog”. I’d never seen it, and wanted to share it here. It’s about domesticating foxes in Siberia.

The ten-minute show is embedded below and on YouTube here. Give it a watch:

The gist: Over the course of more than 40 years, scientists took normal foxes, which were aggressive toward humans, and looked for the tamest ones.

Then they bred them.

In just a few generations, the foxes — animals that would typically attack humans when threatened — had become completely tame creatures that snuggled the scientists rather than biting their hands.

What’s more, over time, the foxes started to look like…dogs.

Cute dogs.

The tame foxes even developed floppy ears, the color of their coats lightened, and their tails curled.

One theory is that the least aggressive foxes were less fierce because they had retained their juvenile traits into adulthood. And so dogs — domesticated wolves, that is — similarly display the traits of juvenile wolves.

For more, here’s an American Scientist article from 1999 on the experiment. And there’s a Wikipedia page, as well.

I also came across some domesticated fox footage on Youtube taken by someone who appears to own a couple of the creatures. The video becomes extra-remarkable at 1:14:

And finally, in case you’re wondering: It appears that you can purchase your own domesticated Russian fox. (The Cost: $8,900.)

Here’s a Completely Gratuitous Photo of Our Dog Ashley

File under: Just because.

Here’s a recent photo, supplied by our friend P, of our beloved adopted street dog, Ashley, previously discussed here and here.

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Ashley turns five in August, so she’s technically a middle-aged pooch. But, as you may be able to tell in this image, she still has a youthful face and many puppy-like traits.

Normal programming will resume shortly.

Spotted on NYC Subway: (Fake) Ad for ‘Canine Plastic Surgeon’

I spotted this “ad” for a “canine plastic surgeon” recently on the 1 train here in New York.

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Despite the silliness of the concept, the ad is pretty convincing, since it’s done very much in the style of many local NYC subway ads. (Dermatologist Dr. Jonathan Zizmor‘s ads come to mind.)

However, a quick visit to PuppyLift.com, the (hilarious) URL mentioned, reveals that the “ad” is actually for Comedy Central’s “Kroll Show.”

Pretty clever.