Monday, December 31, 2018

12.31.18 Happy New Year

May you and your family and friends have a very Happy and Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Are you making any New Year's resolutions? If so, how long do you keep them? Me? I always reflect on what I should do to be a better person. Not always an easy assessment! Of course, watch my diet and exercise should be on the list, but that would go without saying - new year or not. But I do look at the ways in which I could be more patient, kinder and more tolerant in difficult situations. Perhaps taking the time to take a deep breath before responding would go a long way for a peaceful co-existence with some people.

Whatever you resolve to do and for how long you are successful, I wish you all the best.

Love fireworks any time of year and if it doesn't rain will watch them along the Boston Harbor at the stroke of midnight!.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

12/29/18 The DNA test reveals Shorty you are......

….... an island village dog. More specific, you are a Southeast Asia Island Village dog.

You say - you needed a DNA test to tell you that?  He was born on an island in a village. And that was my response as well, Really? An  island village dog? I gave them that information when I registered Shorty for his DNA analysis. I wrote back and told them the obvious and really wanted to know what mix of breeds might carry genetically. There is a history of German shepherds and Japanese Akitas on the island, did he have any of that DNA? I also told him he did not look like most dogs there - they have short hair and are tall, Shorty is, well, short, and has long thick hair. He is not typical, although there are a couple more short dogs of various coloration in the area. Interesting, none are as handsome or as friendly as Shorty. There is one particularly short black dog in the next village, and when Shorty sees him there is really little attraction. Go figure.

The response from the company in response to my disappointment was pleasant and complemented Shorty with phrases like: 
  • Shorty is actually an exceptionally interesting dog, genetically. (He is an exceptional dog. Period.)
  • These dogs aren't mixes of purebred dogs at all, but descendants of dog populations that existed before pedigreed breeding (which largely arose in the last century).
  • These dogs have 0% ancestry from any of the breeds in our database (and have a very extensive list of breeds), so we can safely say Shorty is not technically a mixed breed dog. 
  • Shorty is a really, really interesting dog (I know.). He could be hugely helpful in advancing the understanding of dog population history and the colonization of the Pacific-- something a mixed breed dog wouldn't be able to.
  • He even has a mitochondrial haplotype (A9a) that we've never observed in a purebred or mixed breed dog. Rather, it only pops up in Asian village dogs, which are the most diverse population of dogs on Earth (at least genetically).
  • ….. the village dog designation isn't a breed result of exclusion (we're not saying we don't know what breeds are in Shorty), but rather a definitive result.
  • If we can get more genetic signatures from Micronesian dogs on more islands, we might be able to see whether these Asian genetic signatures are ancient (they descend from the first dogs that colonized these islands) or whether these dogs' ancestors came to the islands more recently. 

On the good news side he carries no serious genetic predisposition to any disease or illness except he is a carrier of a recessive allele for skeletal dysplasia. That means his offspring might be short and that this is not enough for him to have the condition. Except he is short, so he does have the medical condition. Hence his name, Shorty, of course.
      Report: Carrier
      System: Skeletal
      Condition: Skeletal Dysplasia 2 (COL11A2)
      A disease of skeletal development, this causes dogs to have abnormally short legs but similar     body lengths compared to unaffected dogs, and can be observed by the time dogs reach 5 to 6 months of age. This has been best characterized in certain lineages of Labrador Retrievers. Other than their height, affected Labradors suffer no ill effects from their condition. However, affected dogs almost never meet breed standard.

So maybe on my next trip I may try to work out a deal with the DNA company to get more village dog DNA swabs to help veterinary medicine learn more about migration of dogs to Yap, Micronesia. This could be Shorty's contribution to society. I was thinking maybe I can brainstorm about helping in the quest to learn more about the origin of dogs on the island Yap.

Until then, Shorty is Yapese. No more will I call him a rescue or mixed or mutt. He is Yapese. Pink and black tongue and all. Shorty is truly my Yapese dog.

In reviewing his DNA relatives, he does share about 2% of his DNA with German Shepherds. Not surprised as he does have herding instincts, especially in the morning when it is time to get out of bed. He rounds us all up and escorts us outside!

They tested one other dog from a Pacific island that may be Shorty's second cousin - they share 7.8% of their DNA. I asked them to let me know more about that dog.  I am going out on a limb and say the  name of the dog may be Bear based on the information they sent me of other Southeast Asia Island Village dogs (that info changed from when I first viewed it to today). Bear's owner was also in the Peace Corps. Would be nice to be in touch.

There was one dog named Roxy that most closely resembled Shorty, but I now cannot find her to get her picture. There is no picture for Bear. If any reader can help me locate the possible cousin, I would be very appreciative. I suspect she is in the USA and not on Yap, but not certain. 

And by the way, Fionnegan and Gunnarr are also doing great. We know they are bichon frise and there is no reason to test them. Doesn't matter if they weren't. I love them all.

Here are a few recent photographs of the boys.

They all are also very happy dogs and love running around outside in the yard. Right now they are all wrestling behind my chair as I try to type. Working from home has become much more challenging lately. It seems that every 5 minutes Shorty barks to go outside - to chase squirrels. Or rather to protect the bird feeders from the squirrels! I respond for the first few times just in case it is a nature call, after that they get the settle command and a request to go to sleep.

Fionnegan wears the blue collar, Gunnarr wears the red collar.

Hope you all are doing well as we wind down 2018 and look forward to 2019.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

12.25.18 Merry Christmas

May you and your family and friends share in the blessings of this holy season. May you experience the kindness of others as well as share goodness and cheer with those you meet. And may we all find peace and comfort in this world.

One of the things I like to do when I travel is to find Christmas ornaments or at least a local hand crafted item that I can use as an ornament. Each year the tree is different, each ornament has a special memory. But there always a few constants, such as my angel from Bangladesh and a drummer boy from the family of a very sick cadet in Vermont when I was an intern. Good memories.

May you have all good memories and may you have more each and every year.

Merry Christmas.
from me and my boys.


Gunnarr                                                             Fionnegan


Sunday, December 23, 2018

12.23.18 More football

You might have noticed that I didn't post after last week's game. Yes, the NE Patriots lost to Pittsburgh and for once it did not feel like a win-win to me. I wanted the Patriots to look good and win, and they looked bad and lost. Note to self - it is only a game. But I was bummed and just wanted to put it behind me and move on to this week. Sounds a bit like the coach.

So today I went to the game not sure if we even had a good chance of winning. Two straight loses can do that. But we won - we beat the Buffalo Bills 24 to 12. Not a great team, I might add, but a win is a win. We had decent weather for a winter game, cold but not bitter and the sun was out too. Now we are division champs for the 10th straight year - an important statistic for any team. It is one of the longest streaks in the NFL.

So one more game for the season - next week the New York Jets at home. Another team that is sometimes hard to beat. Then we are off to the playoffs. Is the Super Bowl within our grasp?

The team is preparing to enter the field. Look on the screen to see two of my favorite players Tom Brady and Julian Edelman.

Next play was a touchdown.

A good game to attend. Thrilled we won.

Monday, December 17, 2018

12/17/18 Snow on my birthday

Yes, there was a light snowfall today, my birthday. Most years we have some, so I was delighted to see the light snowfall this morning. It did not last long, did not stick to the roads, and most important, there was no shoveling to do! My kind of snowfall.

I believe that we should celebrate each birthday. It is an important milestone in our personal lives, and each one counts. Each one is a blessing and none of us know how many we shall be granted. I use this time to reflect on the past year - the good and the bad - and make plans to be better during the coming year. I like to reflect on this day rather than the new Year's Day, as to me it is a bit more personal.

Usually I like to go out on the town and do something special. One year I went downtown Boston and walked around looking at the lights in the trees and windows. In the past I had gone to the Christmas performance by the Boston Pops, had dinner in a special restaurant or gone to a much anticipated movie. This year as I was deciding on what exactly I wanted to do I found myself deciding on what I would make for dinner for me and the boys. I felt that this year I would like to be quiet and have some time with them since I have been pretty busy these past few weeks, and the week to come is just as busy. So I stopped at the grocery store and picked up some fresh fish and went home and made a much enjoyed dinner for all of us. There was not a crumb left on any dish or bowl! They do appreciate my cooking more than anyone I know. Later the boys spent some time outside as it is quite warm for this time of year and they ran and played and barked at Tukka and Oliver, our neighboring dogs. Funny how they know when they are outside. And now they are curled up taking a nap. Good boys!

I hope you all take the time to enjoy your own special day - your birthday. Just time with friends and family make it a special day. Although a little papering is always fun and much enjoyed.

Here are a couple of pictures of my four legged boys.

Shorty is having fun modeling a new scarf I got for my birthday. It does accentuate his coat color, doesn't it?

He also got a new bed to keep him warm during the cold winter months. It is heated and he does seem to like it. He won't stay in the kitchen during the really cold days so I have to be creative to keep him warm and comfortable.

Fionnegan, Gunnarr and Shorty chasing the squirrels from the bird feeders. It is good exercise for them. Lots of running and barking.

Here is Gunnarr in his puppy cave. It is a bit worn but both Fionn and Gunnarr prefer it over any other bed. When I leave for work I must leave them both a smart bone, or else I get the sad puppy eye treatment.

Fionn is enjoying a tasty "stick". It is good for their teeth.  And they all are quiet for about 15 minutes!

A rare look at the camera for Gunnarr. He has become very camera shy. But he is a love. So sweet.

And now it is nap time after dinner, a run and a treat. Good night to all of my readers. We will back with more adventures soon.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

12/15/18 Football - the glory and the agony

Forgive me as I reflect on the events of the last two weeks as we prepare for a big game tomorrow versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. I attended the New England Patriots game against the Minnesota Vikings two weeks ago.  It was great - because we won handily. It was a victory that came much easier than I thought as Minnesota is a good team. So that created a strong sense of confidence that we have a really good team, the team made good progress in improving, our defense is tough, our offense on point, and who knows - the Super Bowl again this year? The glory days!

So foolish. So naïve. We lost to the Miami Dolphins in the last second of the game. A team, with no disrespect, has no where near the talent or record as my beloved Patriots. But what Miami has includes a couple of our players from last year with a strong drive and motivation to win and more wins against us on their home turf than loses.

Did a five point lead with 7 seconds left on the game clock lead to complacency for the team? It did not for me as I yelled at the TV they have 7 seconds to score! Seven seconds is ALOT of time! Funny, only my dogs get excited when I yell at the TV. I have learned not to yell "go - go" while watching a game as they think they need to run to the door. How many times I made that mistake I cannot tell you! But I did my best to warn my team that Miami had a great game plan and watching them execute it perfectly and cross the goal line UNTOUCHED was more than my heart could bear. How could we not have stopped the runners? How could an injured quarterback lead the team to an improbable victory? How could our defense look as if they already left the field for the showers? How could they do this to their loyal fans?! And all the coach had to say was nobody died.  Nobody died?????? We all died a little watching our win disappear. Nobody died, what a comment.

So tomorrow is another big game. For me personally it is usually a win-win type of event as we play the team from my childhood, the tough and competitive Steelers. But if my Patriots do not win, I will be sorely disappointed in them. We need the win and they need to play better - the entire 60 minutes. And win. Nobody died. What a poor comment for a loss that should have been an easy win. But as coach likes to say, on to the next game. We are focusing on the next game.

And while we fans are still licking our wounds from this loss to Miami, I am reliving the glory days of the victory on 12/03/18 against the Vikings. I took this video of a Patriot  touchdown from my seat at the Gillette Stadium. Will look at it again just in case we don't get another one tomorrow!

Here is a picture of TB12, JE11 and Gronk and the offense.

It was a bit rainy but not too bad. When we win, we can weather any weather!