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Year of the Dog

Posted January 31, 2006

COLLEGE STATION, January 31, 2006 - For canine lovers, 2006 could prove to be a doggone good time - it's the Chinese Year of the Dog.

Man's best friend has been celebrated in literature, songs and movies. Many a tear has been shed while watching Old Yeller or Lassie, while Benji made kids laugh and Cujo showed Fido's meaner side.

"Many people consider dogs the best companion animal," says Bonnie Beaver, a veterinarian and animal behavior expert at Texas A&M University's College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

"Dogs are probably the easiest of all animals to train. They are used as service animals to help blind and disabled persons, they are used to rescue people, find injured or deceased individuals, and now some believe they may even be able to detect cancer in humans. It's not hard to understand why dogs are so popular."

In the Year of the Dog, some interesting canine facts to chew on:

  • All dogs, from Poodles to Labradors, are descendants from wolves.
  • The largest dog ever measured is believed to be an English Mastiff which in 1989 weighed in at 343 pounds and was 8 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail.
  • No amount of human technology has been able to match a dog's sense of smell. An average person has about 5 million sensory smelling cells compared to about 250 million in a German Shepherd.
  • The Doberman breed was created by Louis Doberman, a German tax collector in the 1860s who used the dog to protect him while he worked.
  • Greyhounds, used by Egyptians as hunting dogs 6,000 years ago, have been clocked as fast as 41 miles per hour.
  • Experts rate the Scottish Border Collie as the smartest dog, while the Afghan is considered the least intelligent.
  • Two dogs - a Pekingese and a Pomeranian - were among the survivors of the Titanic.
  • Dogs have been used in wars for centuries as messengers, food deliverers and rescuers, and from 1914 to 1918, more than 7,000 dogs were killed in action.
  • The Basenji does not bark but can make a sound like a cat's meow and is known for its tree climbing ability.

Dogs helped cavemen in hunting and were the first animal to be domesticated. They have been at man's side for thousands of years and that likely won't change, Beaver adds.

"They make great companions, they give you unconditional love and they give you a friendly greeting every morning," she adds.

But when it comes to pets in the United States, Poochie is not top dog. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are about 62 million pet dogs in the U.S. - compared to almost 70 million pet cats. But in 2006, The Year of the Cat will have to wait its turn.

Contact Information:
Angela G. Clendenin
Director, Communications & Public Relations
Ofc - (979) 862-2675
Cell - (979) 739-5718

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