Tuesday 31 March 2015

Our Dogs Are Part of Our Family

My family has always had dogs – and a few cats too. They were and are part of our family, sometimes to the chagrin of our children who now, as adults, think we lavish too much attention on them.
Tess, a brindle Cairn Terrier and Robbie, a West Highland White Terrier from their perch in the living room, 2010
I recently came across a new chart called the Diagram of Dogs which you can purchase through Pop Chart Lab. It basically shows the Family Tree of dogs and how they are all related. If you have to, you can buy a wall chart for cats as well. I was curious about how our two little critters fit into the family of dogs.
Scottish Terriers on the Diagram of dogs
The Scottish Terriers occupy a small corner of the chart between the Irish, Welsh, English and Russell Terriers. Terriers, as a group are typically small, very active and fearless animals, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at mine.

There have been lots of scientific studies of domesticated dogs, of course, how they evolved from the wild species inhabiting many parts of the world millions of years ago. I could not believe how many there are in fact. A 2002 article in Science, on the mitochondrial DNA of dogs purported to show that most of our pets descended from “Old World gray wolves” and that humans may have domesticated them as far back as 29,000 years ago. You can read the results of this particular study online here. Another article by Elaine Ostrander and Robert Wayne, in Genome Research in 2005, and available here, offered this chart on the evolution of dogs from DNA analyses.

 You can find pictures of dogs in paintings, on sculptures, on tiled wall murals and illustrated in books that go back thousands of years attesting to their place in the families and affairs of people.

Clockwise from top left – cave drawing, Egyptian, Medieval, Greek
With regard to genealogical studies of your own family, there is an indexes to Ireland Dog License Registers on FindMyPast which may add to a family history. Some people even include such documents on their online family trees (search dog license on Ancestry). And occasionally you find people who list their pets on the census.
Glasspoole family, living in Bryansted Alperton, Middlesex, England, with Spot the dog, Tom the cat and eleven Wyandotte chickens
More personally, here are photos of the dogs that were all important members of my family and for whom I really should have paid more attention and taken more care.
Left - my sister, Janice and me with Sandy, a golden Cocker Spaniel, 1953; right – Janice with Sandy, 1956
Buddie, a black Cocker Spaniel, 1969
Augie, a Siberian Husky, 1971
Augie with my daughter, Tamara, and a litter of puppies, 1972
Top left – Keltie, a West Highland White Terrier, 1988; bottom left – 1992; right, with Linda, 1993
Left – Robbie, 2004; right - Tess, 2005
Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.

Leonard, J. A., Wayne, R. K., Wheeler, J., Valadez, R. Guillen, S. & Villa, C. (2002). Ancient DNA Evidence for Old World Origin of New World Dogs. Science, 298, pp. 1613-1616.
Ostrander, E. A. & Wayne, R. K. (2005). The Canine Genome. Genome Research, 15, pp. 1706-1716.