Study details how Tibetan dog got oxygen boost

For millennia, the massive Tibetan mastiff has laid literal claim to the label “top dog.”

The fierce breed, which boasts a lionesque mane and can reach 150 pounds, has long protected Himalayan flocks of sheep from Tibetan wolves and other predators lurking upward of 15,000 feet above sea level—heights no other canine can survive.

Prior research suggests the Tibetan mastiff took an evolutionary shortcut by breeding with the Tibetan wolf, which had already adapted to the altitude by evolving more efficient hemoglobin: the protein that snares oxygen in the bloodstream and distributes it to organs.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Jay Storz, Tony Signore and colleagues have now determined that sleeping with the enemy granted the Tibetan mastiff a hemoglobin architecture that catches and releases oxygen about 50 percent more efficiently than in other dog breeds. Signore reached the conclusion after testing the Tibetan mastiff hemoglobin against that of multiple domestic breeds, including Storz’s own half-Great Pyrenees, half-Irish wolfhound.

“At altitude, the problem is taking in oxygen, because there’s just less of it,” said Signore, a postdoctoral researcher working in Storz’s lab. “If you think of hemoglobin like an oxygen magnet, this magnet’s just stronger.”

The Nebraska researchers, who collaborated with colleagues at Qinghai University in China, already knew that the Tibetan mastiff’s hemoglobin included changes in two —slight modifications to the structure of the protein—that are present in the Tibetan wolf but absent in all other dog breeds.

By engineering and then testing hemoglobins that contained both amino acid mutations vs. just one or the other, the team discovered that both mutations are crucial to the adaptive change in hemoglobin performance. When either mutation was absent, the hemoglobin performed no differently than that of other dog breeds.

“There had been no direct evidence documenting that, yes, these two unique mutations have some beneficial physiological effect that is likely to be adaptive at ,” said Storz, professor of biological sciences and author of a recent book on hemoglobin. “What we’ve discovered is one of the reasons why the Tibetan mastiff is so different from other dogs. And that’s because it’s borrowed a few things from Tibetan wolves.”

Those two amino acid mutations originate from a gene segment that the Tibetan wolf passed to the mastiff via cross-breeding. But the new study also suggests that the gene segment itself came from an inactive gene—a so-called pseudo-gene—that lay dormant in the wolf subspecies for probably thousands of years. At some point, the pseudo-gene segment harboring the two mutations was copied and pasted into the corresponding segment of a similar but active gene, which then reformatted the Tibetan wolf’s hemoglobin.

Because those mutations came from an inactive gene—one with no physiological effects on the wolf—they weren’t initially subject to the pressures of natural selection. In this instance, though, the mutations just so happened to improve the oxygen-binding capacity of hemoglobin, raising the Tibetan wolf’s survival odds. That encouraged the passage of the gene segment through subsequent generations of the wolf and, eventually, to the Tibetan mastiff.

“They wouldn’t have conferred any benefit under normal circumstances,” Storz said. “It was just (that) this conversion event occurred in an environmental context where the increase in -oxygen affinity would have been beneficial. So  that otherwise would have been either neutral or even detrimental actually had a positive fitness effect.”

Storz said there are few other documented cases where an initially inconsequential or adverse mutation ultimately benefited an organism as its environment changed. And most such cases have involved experimental studies on micro-organisms in the lab.

“This is a nice example of the effect involving vertebrate animals and the natural environment,” he said.


Kukkuripa – Dog Lover

In Kapilavastu there lived a Brahmin named Kukkuripa. Puzzling over the problems of existence, he came to place his trust in the Tantra, and in time chose the path of renunciation. He began his itinerant career by begin his way slowly toward the caves of Lumbini.

One day, on the road to the next town, he heard a soft whining in the underbrush. When he investigated, he found a young dog so starved he could no longer stand. Moved to pity, he picked her up and carried her with him on his long journey, sharing the contents of his begging bowl, and watching with delight as she began to grow strong and healthy.

By the time they arrived in Lumbini, Kukkuripa had become so accustomed to her affectionate, good-natured company that he could not imagine living without her. And so he searched for an empty cave large enough for them both. Every day, when he went out begging, she would stand guard, waiting patiently for his return.

So deeply involved was Kukkuripa in the continuous recitation of his mantra, that twelve years pass as quickly as one. Almost without realizing it, the yogin attained the magical powers of prescience and divine insight. But the gods of the Thirty-three Sensual Heavens had taken notice. In fact, they were so impressed that they invited him to celebrate his achievements by visiting their paradise. Flattered, and amazed by their attentions, he accepted the invitation and embarked upon a ceaseless round of self-indulgent feasting and pleasure. On earth, his faithful dog waited patiently for her master to return. Although she had to root around for whatever she could find to eat, she never strayed far from the cave.

And, in truth, she was not forgotten. Despite his luxurious existence, Kukkuripa sorely missed his loving companion. Again and again he told the gods that he needed to return to the cave to care for her.

But his heavenly hosts urged him to stay, saying: “How can you even think about returning to a dog in a dark cave when you are enjoying our good favor and every luxury and comfort we can offer? Don’t be so foolish—remain with us here.” Time and time again, Kukkuripa allowed himself to be persuaded.

But one day when he looked down from the Thirty-three Heavens, he realized that his loyal dog was pining for him—her eyes were sad, her tail drooped, and she was so thin he could see her ribs. Kukkuripa’s heart ached for her. Then and there he descended from paradise to rejoin her in the cave.

The dog leaped and pranced with joy when she caught sight of her beloved master. But no sooner did he sit down and begin to scratch her favorite spot, just behind the ears, than she vanished from sight! There before him, wreathed in a cloud of glory, stood a radiantly beautiful dakini.

“Well done!” she cried. “Well done! You have proved your worth by overcoming temptation. Now that you have returned, supreme power is yours. You have learned that the mundane power of the gods is delusory, for they still retain the notion of self. Theirs is the realm of fallible pleasure. But now your dakini can grant you supreme realization—immaculate pleasure without end.”

The she taught him how to achieve the symbolic union of skillful means and perfect insight. As an irreversible, infallible vision of immutability arose in his mindstream, he did indeed attain the state of supreme realization.

Renowned as Guru Kukkuripa, the Dog Lover, he returned to Kapilavastu, where he lived a long life of selfless service. And in due time, he ascended to the Paradise of the Dakinis with a vast entourage of disciples.

Kukkuripa, The Dog Lover


This is Celeste – female Tibetan Mastiff from the Czech Republic.
Her owner Petr visits older people with her, giving them a bit of warmth and joy. This dog therapy costs Celeste a lot of energy.
Her children (father is famous Kunzang NAM KHA) are doing the same.


When the animal is dying or has died

“If you love your animal very much, this is what you must do for them, for their good rebirth and quick liberation from samsara. When the animal is dying or has died, recite OM MANI PADME HUNG, Heruka mantra and Heruka root mantra, and other mantras such as the Milarepa and Namgyalma mantras. You can recite the long mantras 21 times or more, and one mala or more of the short mantras. Blow strongly on the animal’s body after each recitation. Or, you can blow on water, visualizing each deity absorbed into the water. Each drop of water now has the power to purify negative karmas. Then, as you pour the water on the animal, all its negative karmas are purified.

If the animal is dying, you can do Medicine Buddha practice, visualizing the seven Medicine Buddhas on the crown of the animal. Then, you can also do 35 Buddhas practice, with nectar coming out of the 35 Buddhas and purifying the animal’s negative karma. Do this with strong refuge in the 35 Buddhas to protect and guide your animal.

When the animal is in the process of dying or even after its breath has stopped, if you have some sand from a Kalachakra sand mandala, you can mix it with butter and put it on the crown of the animal’s head. Each sand grain has many Buddhas abiding in it. It’s especially good if it has been blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama”. [3c]

Lama Zopa Rinpoche


Donate please Animal Liberation Sanctuary:

Animal Liberation Sanctuary Donation Form

Kekhor – decoration or a practical item?

Lately someone asked me in a mail about the mening of kekhor, so I thought it would be good to write about this characteristic item on my blog.

Kekhor is a Tibetan Mastiff’s decoration made of wool from yak (rarely from sheep) dyed red, but sometimes kekhors are dyed for example bright yellow or bicoloured kekhors.

The idea of an intense red kekhor propably came from the passion of Tibetan people to intense colours. Thangkhas and ritual items, like jewellery and clothing, are also colourful. It comes, most definitely, from the fact that Tibetan Plateau’s vegetation is mostly in the shades of gray and colours make the world of Tibetans more optimistic.

Kekhor, besides the decorative function, also has practical meaning:

It scares off potential agressors. A Tibetan Mastiff with kekhor seems bigger and more dangerous.
If it comes to contact with a predator, it is a protection of the neck area.
A dog with kekhor is better visivile to the owner, so he can always know where he is. An outsider seeing the decorated Mastiff from afar won’t risk meeting it.

A real kekhor of Yak’s wool  you can know after a specific smell. Original kekhory from Tibet can be bought in Tibetan Masitiff Shop:

Chinese vet removes dozens of dogs vocal cords in the street

An undercover report has exposed a shocking trend in a Chinese city, which sees pet owners sending their dogs to street vets to have their vocal cords removed to stop them from barking. 

Horrifying pictures and videos have emerged which show one unlicensed vet, in south-west China, performed devocalisation operations on dozens of dogs in the street as his assistant forced open the mouths of the animals. 

The news has sparked an outrage among the public as people and animal lovers called the procedure ‘unnecessary’ and ‘cruel’.

The undercover report, by Chengdu Business Daily, claimed that the vet, known with a surname Zeng, had been running his business at a flower and bird market in Qingbaijiang district of Chengdu since September 14.

Mr Zeng can be seen setting his booth at the side of a road. His equipment, displayed on a folding table, included a thong, a torch, cotton wool balls and tourniquets.

The act of getting pet dogs devocalised can be observed around China. 

Most owners choose to let their animals undergo the surgery to stop their pets from barking too much.

According to Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, devocalisation is an invasive procedure with the inherent risks of anesthesia, infection, blood loss and other serious complications. 

Dogs could suffer breathing difficulties and increased level of stress and risks of threats to safety as a result of the operation.

Animal rights group PETA Asia explained that devocalisation took away dogs of their natural ability to vocalise and communicate. An officer from the group said the procedure ‘is unnecessary and inherently cruel’.

Keith Guo, a spokesman from PETA Asia, said: ‘It’s horrifying to know so many dogs have suffered through this procedure at the hands of this unlicensed vet.’

Irene Feng, director of Animals Asia’s Cat and Dog Welfare, agreed that devocalisation is a cruel and harmful operation to dogs. 

‘It is being carried out in unsanitary conditions risking pain and infection for the animal, while such mutilation is obviously extremely negative for the dogs’ welfare and quality of life,’ Ms Feng stressed.

Both animal groups admitted there are no organisation running a specific campaign against the devocalisation trend in China, but they have been working hard to increase the awareness about responsible companion animal ownership.

Read more: 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Euro Dog Show 2017

Euro Dog Show 2017 – Kiev, Ukraine

BOB, CAC, CACIB “European Winner 2017”, Best male
(Dawa’s Welcome Stanger from Sierra’s x Seng Khri Heng Hua)
Breeder : Dan Nechemias and Lois Claus, USA
Owner: Ariel Brizzola, Argentina

BOS, CAC, CACIB, “European Winner 2017” Best Female 
(Kunzang Bal Bhagya to Bisurman x Hana Bisurman do Domaine de Toundra)
Breeder : Justyna Musial, Poland 
Owner: Dimitris Sarafidis & Konstantinos Kazolias, Greece

Gallery (copyright Kaire Meristo):

Photos: Kaire Meristo


Oregon court: Couple must ‘debark’ Tibetan Mastiffs

An Oregon appeals court agreed Wednesday that a couple must surgically lacerate their dogs’ vocal cords in a procedure known as “debarking” or “devocalization,” following a lawsuit brought by neighbors annoyed by the pets’ “incessant barking.” The ruling upheld a lower court order.

The case began in 2002, when Karen Szewc and John Updegraff began breeding Tibetan Mastiffs, large fluffy dogs often employed to protect sheep from predators, at their home in Rogue River, Ore., about 150 miles south of Eugene.

The married couple’s neighbors, Debra and Dale Krein, quickly grew tired of the dogs’ barking. According to the Kreins, the “dogs bark[ed] uncontrollably for long periods of time while defendants [were] away from the residence,” court documents state.

But they weren’t the first ones to take action against the dog owners. In both 2004 and 2005, Jackson County cited Szewc for violating a county code provision on public nuisance “by allowing two of her dogs to bark frequently and at length,” according to court documents.

Szewc argued the provisions didn’t apply to her because she ran a farm on the couple’s 3.4-acre parcel of land, which includes sheep, goats and chickens. Farms fall under different ordinances.

The Jackson County Circuit Court rejected this argument, saying the property was not a farm, ordered her to pay $400 and to debark the two offending dogs or to move them to a different area.

It is unclear if she debarked these dogs, but in 2012, the Kriens filed a lawsuit against Szewc and Updegraff, claiming they had not taken the necessary actions to prevent the dogs from barking. At that point, there were at least six dogs on the property, all either Tibetan or Pyrenean Mastiffs, the Oregonian reported.

Again, the dog owners argued that they were not subject to the dog barking ordinance because they were running a farm.

The Kreins claimed the dogs often began barking at 5 a.m., sometimes waking the couple. Relatives refused to visit, and their children hated being around the house, according to the Oregonian. They recorded the barking to prove it.

“The dogs are my employees,” Szewc told the Oregonian. “We do not have the dogs to harass the neighbors. We have the dogs to protect our sheep.”

“The next line of defense is a gun. I don’t need to use a gun, if I can protect my sheep with dogs,” she added. “This is a passive way of protecting livestock.”

In April 2015, a jury sided with the Kreins and ordered Szewc and Updegraff to pay them $238,000 in damages. Also in response to the suit, Judge Timothy Gerking ordered the couple to debark the mastiffs, since they hadn’t stopped them from barking using other means such as shock collars.

Szewc and Updegraff again argued unsuccessfully that the dogs were necessary because they had a farm.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals consisting of Joel DeVore, Chris Garrett and Bronson James upheld that ruling, agreeing that the dog owners were not running a farm.

The question of whether debarking is an appropriate remedy was not at issue in the case.

Debarking is a surgical procedure in which parts of a dog’s vocal folds or cords are cut out in an effort to lower the volume of its barks or, more severely, to eliminate the dog’s ability to bark altogether, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

The procedure is partially prohibited in six states, according to the AVMF. Many animal welfare organizations oppose it, as do some veterinarians.

“Debarking is not a medically necessary procedure,” Jeffrey S. Klausner, chief medical officer of the Banfield Pet Hospital, told the New York Times in 2010. “We think it’s not humane to the dogs to put them through the surgery and the pain. We just do not think that it should be performed.”

Wednesday’s ruling left some animal rights activists reeling.

“We are just shocked,” David Lytle, a spokesman for the Oregon Humane Society, told the Oregonian.