New Guinea Singing Dog

 

The New Guinea Singing Dog, or Singer, is native to the harsh tropical wetlands of the Melanesian region and is traditionally associated with the early morning delivery of milk to the homes of local residents, a practice which continues to this day. The people of the towns and villages of New Guinea write messages such as ‘2 pints of red top’ or ‘no milk today please milkie’ and leave them in empty milk bottles on their doorsteps for the Singer to collect. The Singer then delivers milk along with eggs, cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt and juice as requested. The dog has a reddish brown coat but wears an immaculate white uniform with contrasting red piping when going about its business.

A relative of the wild Australian Dingo and curiously fox-like in appearance, the Singer was isolated from other breeds in its native territory for as many as six thousand years. In recent times, no doubt partly due to the rise of the supermarket, populations have dwindled to such an extent that the breed’s conservation status is now classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Singer usually goes to bed in the late afternoon and rises in the early hours of the morning. It sleeps close to its dairy produce so it can keep an eye on things and make sure nothing is stolen (in the jungle there are no rules and life is tough). Although the breed is short sighted and often needs to wear spectacles it sleeps very lightly and is difficult to deceive.

The New Guinea Singing Dog bonds for life. To attract a mate the Singer goes alone into the forest to sing its unique and beautiful song. In Melanesia, it is said that the sound of the Singer’s voice is so beguiling that even human beings have been enticed! To listen to the sound of a NGSD singing, click here.

The New Guinea Singing Dog is undomesticated and as such makes a challenging pet. It is essentially a wild animal and you will have a job on your hands if you decide to take one into your home. The Singer is a very robust and energetic dog which loves to run and jump and play well into old age. In its homeland people say that one day it will fly away and never return.

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Weimaraner

 

Some say the Weimaraner is not so much a real dog as a ghoulish apparition that goes by the name ‘The Grey Ghost’ and is consigned to forever wander the lonely corridors of Rhineland castles, moaning its characteristic, high-pitched wail deep into the dark, dark night. Others refuse to acknowledge its existence at all whilst others still simply describe it, somewhat unhelpfully, as ‘moonlight on chocolate.’ What, then, is the Weimaraner? Clearly, it is whatever you want it to be. Like the second person subject of Cole Porter’s ‘You’re the Top’ it is ‘Napoleon brandy’, a ‘turkey dinner’, even, if you will, ‘Mahatma Gandhi.’ However, this was not always the case. At one time the Weimaraner was flavour of the month, dish of the day, le chien à la mode; not so much grey geist as zeitgeist. Here, for the first time, the real story of this remarkable, enigmatic and much-maligned breed can finally be told.

In the eighteenth century, the athletically-bodied Weimaraner, a fine hunting companion, could often be found accompanying Goethe, Schiller, and Herder on one of their many forays deep into the Thuringian Forest to harvest the rich fauna of the Weimar region. These were the breed’s salad days, when it was able to engage its fearsome intellect with some of the finest thinkers of the time and indulge in many of the pleasures and pastimes strictly reserved for the German aristocracy. After the hubristic revelries of World War I, however, the Weimaraner fell upon hard times. In a misguided attempt to revive its fortunes it formed the ill-fated Weimar Republic and could often be seen forlornly pushing a wheelbarrow full of Deutschmarks through the wooded hillocks of its homeland, bemoaning the fact that its wheelbarrow was worth more than its money. A desperate attempt to control spiralling inflation by flooding the market with wheelbarrows followed but ultimately failed and, indeed, contributed to the rise in popularity of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. By the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler had driven the Weimaraner from power and the sorry hound had retired to its forest retreat to lick its wounds. It was rarely sighted again until the demise of the Third Reich in 1945.

Now, in the early twenty first century, the breed is making a somewhat tentative comeback. Popular with narcissists, the Weimaraner can sometimes be seen gracing the homes of Europe’s elite and, across the pond, Ivy League alumni. Yet, even today, very little is known about this magical beast, though the following snippet from the International Canine Breeds Association (ICBA) handbook is generally held to be accurate and may be of some use:

The Weimaraner never sleeps. It lives in a tree, wears feathers in its cap and plays the flute. Its body and eyes are made of steel. It can retract an injured limb at will and continue to travel on three legs until a suitable repairer is found. When the Weimaraner cries, it cries tears of pure, liquid gold.

Beagle

The Beagle is a good, old-fashioned working dog, a scent hound with an extraordinarily keen sense of smell. All dogs smell better than humans but Beagles smell ten times better! In the late nineteenth century both smooth and rough varieties existed (like peanut butter) but now, although the breed is as popular as ever, you will only find the smooth variety (like peanut butter when you go shopping at your local corner shop). The Beagle’s highly developed olfactory capacities have led to them being used for centuries as pack hounds alongside mounted riders on hunts for animals such as foxes and hares. However, since hunting for foxes was banned in Britain in the late twentieth century many Beagles have found themselves pushed to the margins of society, hanging around with unsavoury characters and sniffing drugs in airport toilets, despite the fact that they make very good pets.

There is, however, no denying that Beagles love drugs. They can sniff out a single milligramme of cocaine from two hundred yards which is why customs officers like them so much. But the Beagle’s favourite drug of all is nicotine. Yes, Beagles love to smoke! At least, that’s what the scientists thought until they realised that cigarettes killed them. But by then it was too late and thousands of Beagles had already perished. Fortunately, there was a silver lining: thanks to the Beagle’s extensive research we now know that inhaling cigarette smoke is harmful to humans. Indeed, to this day Beagles continue to carry out illuminating work on behalf of human beings, ingesting various chemicals and food additives in huge quantites over long periods of time to ensure that they are safe for their masters to consume. Whilst many people can only dream of becoming a drug tester, for literally thousands of Beagles this seemingly ideal career is a daily reality!

If you are thinking of getting a Beagle as a pet remember that a good diet and exercise are of paramount importance as is plenty of variety and mental stimulation. Think meat, vegetables, long walks on the common followed by Countdown and a steaming mug of hot tea with a couple of digestives. Sounds idyllic? It is, and it could all be yours if you buy a Beagle. Do make sure you get one from a reputable breeder and not a rescue centre, however, as you will find many of these poor creatures have damaged lungs, respiratory tracts and other faults. Also, remember never to let your Beagle out alone and to always keep him away from sources of nicotine; like the Scottish Terrier and the Great Dane, the breed has strong addictive tendencies.

When you look at a picture of a Beagle you might be surprised to find that the breed was used as the model for Snoopy, the popular cartoon character. This is probably because Snoopy is almost entirely white, whereas real Beagles like the one pictured here tend to have more colour. Also they do not have small yellow birds as friends.

Shar Pei

shar peiThe Shar Pei looks like no other dog on Earth. An ancient Chinese fighting dog which almost became extinct after WWII, the breed was resurrected by the Americans in the 1970s after the Communists banned dog breeding and other fun activities. Originally thought to be a cross between the Tibetan Mastiff and the Chow Chow, recent research has uncovered a genetic link to the humble earthworm, throwing science into confusion. In 1996, a study at Harvard University revealed that, like the Dachshund, the Shar Pei is not, strictly speaking, a mammal at all but, rather, shares its DNA with both the geranium and the gecko and falls into a taxonomic class all of its own.

The characteristic loose skin and wrinkles were positively encouraged over hundreds of years of selective breeding and, indeed, there is such an excess of subcutaneous tissue that some have suggested the Ancient Chinese may have also bred the dogs for their pelts to guard against the harsh winters of the mountainous regions.

Though the Shar Pei has a strong, muscular build, it is not without health problems. Depression and bipolar syndrome are common ailments, as are breathing difficulties and worms. The Shar Pei is a sensitive breed, and in many ways is still getting over the rejection it suffered at the hands of the Chinese. Having said that, it’s fair to say the dogs have, in general, successfully managed the transition over to the American Way of Life and have embraced it wholeheartedly: they are now regularly spotted at baseball games, high school proms and the like and are even popular in Hollywood.

In terms of diet, you can’t go too far wrong by feeding your Shar Pei burgers, fries, chilli dogs and cola, though obviously not every day as this can encourage obesity. Also, don’t forget to give them plenty of fruit and vegetables so they don’t get cancer. Exercise is also important, but not that important as these dogs sleep for an average of 16 hours per day. If your Shar Pei seems to just want to spend all day on the sofa you should allow this; your pet is probably just tired (or depressed, which isn’t surprising given the circumstances).

When it comes to entertainment, the Shar Pei very much enjoys dressing up, especially at Halloween, when it is fond of ‘Trick or Treating.’ Its favourite Halloween costume is the illuminous green skeleton, though it also likes the witch. If the Shar Pei was a human being, it would be The Fonz from TV’s Happy Days.

Dalmatian

Now, here’s a breed that needs no introduction! As everyone knows, the Dalmatian was popularised in the 1955 animated Disney movie, Lady and the Tramp, and will forever be associated with the actress Glenn Close after she played the wicked Cruella de Vil in the remake. Do you remember her coat? Yes, it was covered in black spots and made from the skins of poor little Dalmatian puppies! She was such an evil character – probably the most evil character in the history of the cinema. Fortunately, in real life, the Dalmation is a much-loved breed that has been around for a lot longer than fifty years or so: indeed, it is one of the oldest breeds of dog on Earth.

Like Marco Polo and Goran Ivanišević, the Dalmatian is said to have originally hailed from Croatia. Although the breed is usually characterised by its heavily-spotted black and white coat, a special (and less common) liver-coloured version is also available. Pups are born in litters of six to eight, but without markings (these are added later). Whilst the breed generally enjoys very good health, a genetic predisposition to deafness has been identified. This is actually a good thing, as in the past many Dalmatians were drowned or discarded for being stupid or refusing to follow commands when in fact they simply couldn’t hear anything! (This is a bit like some teenagers, today, when they wear their headphones all day).

The Dalmatian is very good at sports such as hunting and running and is, on the whole, a kind dog. Dalmatians excel at catching vermin and helping firemen (so much so that the dog is now the official mascot of the American National Fire Protection Association). They are also associated with Budweiser, though they do not drink it themselves as they prefer Ožujsko, a native beverage. Dalmatians can live for as long as eighteen years, which is like a human being living to 216 years old! For this reason, they are not recommended for elderly owners. Like the Great Dane, they are also not suitable for people who live in small apartments.

Dachshund

dachshund‘Dachshund’ is German for ‘Badger Dog’ but in English the breed is commonly known as the ‘Sausage Dog’ (or ‘Wiener Dog’ in America). There are three varieties in varying shades of brown and black: the smooth-haired, the long-haired and the wire-haired. A stretch version is also available for weddings and other special occasions.

The temperament is plucky and individual, and with its loud bark and exceptional hearing the Dachshund makes a surprisingly effective guard dog. Like many other small breeds, these little fellows do not take kindly to strangers or children, though these can be tolerated in small doses, more so if the dog is regularly familiarized with outsiders from an early age.

Bred in the UK for their sweet, pork-flavoured flesh until the practice was outlawed in 1827 with the passing of the Consumption of Dogs Act, the Dachshund’s unique and distinctive shape was developed through centuries of selective breeding. The legs tended to be somewhat neglected as there was not much meat there to be had, whilst longer-bodied examples were highly prized for the size of the ‘sausage’: the long fillet produced when the animal is slaughtered and boned. Though the Dachshund is no longer customarily eaten in the UK and is now a familiar household pet these breeding preferences have been maintained for showing purposes and so it remains the case that, generally speaking, the longer the dog’s body and the shorter its legs the better. In the early 1980s, Herr Flasche (Mr. Bottle), a Dachshund with one inch legs and a body nearly three feet in length dominated at Crufts, winning Best of Breed in 1981, Best in Group in 1982 and Best in Show in 1983.

Interestingly, the Dachshund is one of only two breeds of dog in the world that is not a mammal (the other is the Shar Pei). Females lay clutches of six or so eggs at a time in a nest made from straw and other material. Unfortunately, a high level of infant mortality is normal for this breed, and usually only one or two of the hatchlings will survive.

The dog has long been associated with Germany and in 1972 a multi-coloured example named Waldi was chosen as the official mascot of the Munich Summer Olympics. Much favoured by artistic types, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and David Hockney were all proud owners. Radclyffe Hall, one of Britain’s finest lesbian writers, successfully bred Dachshunds for many years with her lover, Lady Trowbridge. The resulting hybrid progeny were, of course, eventually destroyed.

Yorkshire Terrier

“Who’s this shaggy little fellow? Why, it’s Yorkie, the Yorkshire Terrier!”yorkshire terrier

Though it may be small, the Yorkshire Terrier is the most aggressive breed of dog on Earth. Just as short people often attempt to compensate for inadequacies of stature by being extra assertive, so the Yorkie acts as if it truly believes it carries the threat of a far larger beast! Described by some as ‘yappy’ because of the tendency to bark all day long, the breed is happiest when it has something to gnaw on or chew – a rubber toy, for instance. These dogs like chocolate drops (perhaps a little too much!) but, contrary to popular opinion, dislike wearing bows, ribbons, bells, jewellery and other accessories as they have an independent and somewhat macho demeanour and find embellishments such as these unnecessary and humiliating. The breed is naturally possessed of a magnificent cobalt and gold coat which moults very little and is said to be hypoallergenic.

Due to the Yorkie’s size, not a great deal of walking is required: taking it for a quick spin around the block once or twice a week should be enough to blast away any cobwebs. Do be careful, however: this breed is susceptible to overfeeding and obesity can be a problem. In the event that your dog should begin to exhibit symptoms (e.g. an increase in size and/or weight), discontinue the use of choccie drops and other treats immediately and consult your vet about available treatments; these range from liposuction to stomach stapling.

Proud of their Yorkshire roots, these dogs love Wensleydale cheese and the region’s traditional folk song On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at. They are good with children and old people and, whilst the majority are devout Christians, Scientology is an increasingly popular choice of faith. Famous Yorkshire Terriers include former White House resident Pasha (owned by Richard Nixon’s daughter, Tricia), Smoky, the heroic World War Two veteran, and popular Hollywood entertainer, Tom Cruise.

On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at