Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maybe the Carolina Dog Ate Your Baby

It is just me, or can you also not hear the word “Dingo” without hearing Julia Louis-Dreyfus channeling  Meryl Streep while she, in turn was acting the part of Lindy Chamberlain regarding the disappearance of her baby in the Australian Outback?  Yeah.  I thought as much.

Say it with me now, Deen'gow'eh.

Anyway, this post is about the Carolina Dog, the Yaller Dawg, the American Dingo, thought to be a primitive dog found in America. 

Gigi, the Carolina Dog

Another American Dingo (Canis familiaris)

Some years ago, an ecologist from South Carolina, I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., studying pariah*/feral dogs including the Dingo, and the New Guinea Singing Dog, was surprised to find a local stray at the pound that so strongly resembled that original Australian bad boy. Since he found that this stray was one of the types of free-ranging dogs that roamed the less populated areas of South Carolina, he theorized that the dogs in his own state, and those he studied in Australia and Asia were of the same, primitive dog ancestry.  They generally looked the same, some behaviors were similar, and while their DNA showed markers of being from the bottom of the dog development tree, the tests were inconclusive.

Australian Dingo (Alternatively classified as Canis lupis dingo, 
Canis lupis familiaris dingo, Canis dingo, Canis familiaris dingo.)

Through his research, Brisbin hoped to further explore the relationship between early dogs and man which could help us understand their development and domestication process. By purposefully isolating members of the Carolina Dog packs – because they run in packs – Brisbin thought he could breed the dog to ensure a wealth of participants for his future studies. This fascinates me because he took a functional landrace* and made it into a breed** in order to study pre-man’s best friend dog.  Seems counterintuitive.

Related to the earliest dogs or not, the Carolina Dog, or American Dingo as it is also called, is now recognized by the American Rare Breed Association.  From what I can tell, it looks like a fine family dog.

Furthermore, just to clarify my position on the coolness factor of the Dingo as the earliest known dog breed, as well as to harken Julia's snark, if I owned a Carolina Dog, I would definitely refer to it as an American Dingo. 

For more on the American Dingo

*Terms I have recently encountered as applied to dogs, about which I am quite curious, and shall explore in more detail later. 
**What this rare breed has to do with the WKC will also be explored in a later post. 


Anonymous said...

Just curious, but are you by any chance playing off of the BTVS band, "Dingoes Ate My Baby?"

c. andrew

Lynne said...

Even though I'm a big post-BtVS Joss Whedon fan, I was playing off the same expression made famous by Meryl Streep playing Lindy Chamberlain that the band was.