Dear old Hamish never really got the hang of toys. I can only imagine that they were in short supply on the farm where he spent the first three and a half years of his life. In the early days, I tried him out with a few different bouncy, fluffy, chewy or squeaky things, but, unless real food was involved, he took no interest whatsoever. Even before his vintage years, there wasn't much sign of him being in touch with his inner puppy.
Judging by what I saw when I dropped by Granddach Kennels last Sunday, I suspect things will be different with little Bertie. Not yet seven weeks old and already it was game on for an attempt at demolishing a blue and orange plastic creature of indeterminate species.
So it seems that I shall shortly be in the market for some playthings for the wee fellow. I wonder what he would enjoy most? This is new territory for me. Perhaps some of my friends have useful experience they would like to share.....
On a different note altogether (and those not of a scientific bent are advised to stop reading here......), I spotted this in the journal Nature this week:
Bit of an eyesight test I know. What's it all about?
Did you ever wonder how it is that, let's say Mango and Twinkytinydog can belong to the same species? We have to admit that there is quite a difference between a mastiff (just how much is it that you weigh, my Relentlessly Huge friend?) and a teeny weeny little chihuahua. Yet dogs all seem to get along quite happily together. Humans are SO boringly uniform by comparison. And think how much fuss some people make about a small difference in an insignificant trait like, say, skin colour.
Well, a group of scientists have been looking into the genetic variations between lots of different dog breeds, and wolves, to try to understand the whole subject better. Where did the genetic 'toolkit' come from, that enabled breeders to create dogs with such a radically different appearance over such a relatively short time span (mostly between 1830-1900)? The researchers did lots and lots of analysis of different aspects of dogs' genomes came up with a sort of a family tree showing genetic relationships between different dog breeds.
Well it doesn't seem so surprising that, for example terriers fall neatly into one group and, say, spaniels into another, as you can see on the chart. The phenotype (that's science speak for how a dog looks) is by and large reflected by the genotype.
More interesting is the fact that the original source of much of the genetic diversity, seems to have been the grey wolves of the Middle East (not wolves from East Asia, as earlier studies suggested). Which left me wondering if modern day wolves in the Middle East exhibit the occasional floppy ear or particularly fluffy coat?
As ever with science, more research is needed....
PS Things will be quiet on the blogging front next week as I have family matters to attend to. Bertie arrives on 19th April. Then the fun really starts. Don't worry, you'll be hearing all about it!