A dog has mostly wolf DNA

To the Editor:

I grew up just off the southern edge of the Tug Hill plateau. The area was much like our Hilltowns with a lot, lot more snow! There were a few largish farms and many small diversified, dairy based farms.

In those days, cows were out on pasture all summer. They roamed about in the sunshine and calved in the clean grass (note the wistful tone). Farm dogs were loose and many were trained to bring the cows in from the far reaches of the hilly pastures at milking time, morning and night.

Each spring and summer, everyone was on the lookout for dog packs. The packs would be comprised of dogs from several farms that got caught up in the excitement of chasing prey. Farmers often lost cows and calves to dog packs.

They would try to shoot the dogs (even their own) if they could, but usually the dogs were too fast and the terrain too rough for farmer and family to chase any of the dogs down. So they endured the losses!

In the 1980s, I was friends with a dairy family in Washington County. They put their calves out on pasture in summer. I remember when two neighborhood dogs killed a calf. My friends shot the dogs and buried them.

When the neighbor stopped by to ask if the dogs had been around, my friends said, “Haven’t seen ’em recently.” They were within their rights by law.

The thing to remember is that a dog has mostly wolf DNA — even a “froo froo” lapdog or a Chihuahua. They are DNA hardwired to recognize prey and instinctively know how to kill. Just watch a puppy practicing “killing” its fluffy dog toy.

Regarding that DNA, here’s info from The Atlantic Monthly of July 1999. Robert Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at Los Angeles, applied the modern tools of genetic fingerprinting to dogs, coyotes, and wolves, to do a study. Wolves and dogs differ by about 1 percent mitochondrial DNA. In fact, long sequences of dog mitochondrial DNA are similar or identical to those in gray wolves, and analysis of the highly variable markers in the regular DNA of dogs and wolves shows a considerable overlap there as well.

We would do well to recognize this fact!

So, that said, I first want to applaud and support anyone who grows food whether animal or vegetable! Hooray for Albany County Hilltowns! We’ve lost so much farmland. I heard a statistic the other day that 98 percent of all the people in developed countries will soon live in the cities. How in the world will they be fed? But that’s a topic for a different day.

I want to offer a solution to keeping livestock safe from predation. It’s “electric net” mesh fencing. I’ve included a picture. It works to keep poultry, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, etc. safely enclosed and dogs, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons out. It’s lightweight, portable and works to enclose gardens as well.

I am sorry Ms. Huba lost her dog but my greater sympathy lies with the loss of livestock. That said, Mr. Salerno can’t expect anything different unless he creates secure fencing!

Pam Harder

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