Benefits of Research

I think should anybody plan on going elsewhere, there’s always the added benefit of knowing foreign languages well to do research a lot before actually going there. Keep in mind one must steer away from both romantisations and demonisations as any country has its flaws and virtues. Whatever that means but even if they have their own quirks, people are people. So there’ll be upstanding citizens, criminals and morons in every place and community.

Like in Central Europe and evens DACHS/Badger region (Austria, Switzerland, Germany, South Tirol), dog poisoning and pets being shot by hunters are big deals over there. But there are also attempts to curb farm cat numbers and animals straying in general (so is everywhere is). That mongrels form a substantial number of dogs there (depending on the statistic, either a fourth or nearly 70%) goes well with stray dogs (whether due to owner negligence or occurring in/near countrysides).

To be fair, these also occur/recur in Italy and France too. (As is speaking German and wearing lederhosen which is observed in some, often Northern Italian regions due to history and proximity.) Again everything’s not without its ups and downs but there are immigrants and tourists who’ve done their research enough, even online and from non-Anglophone sources, to get a feel of it in advance.

Once a upon a time

I think it’s been remarked elsewhere in other studies that historically at some point or another lapdogs were despised for being nothing more than old maids’ pets and playthings. (I remember the word for minx also meant a lapdog.) Even this very blog contains excerpts on this phenomenon. But there are extensive studies on that phenomenon in Germany. Both in English (The Surplus Woman) and German (Hagestolz und Alte Jungfer).

Whilst the Anglophone book contains only a chapter on old maids and their lapdogs, the German book seems to have several more. Maybe that’s based on my experience excerpting it (as Google Books only offers previews and sometimes briefly so) and having it translated on Google (that’s where I know about those stray dog incidents in Europe). Heck that’s even true for both German language and Anglophone documents about pugs being old maids’ dogs.

That even a close bond with such dogs is even laughed at, especially if the dog’s rather useless save for alleviating loneliness. Karen Lupo pointed out something in her study ‘A Dog is For Hunting’ where the community she studied, the Aka Pygmies, seem to have rather ambivalent attitudes to dogs. Though dogs were used for hunting, they’re not always reliable. They’re deliberately excluded from homes and may sometimes get attacked for pestering others.

If dogs were trained to hunt, they’d even be drugged or socialised to other dogs to do so. In another, albeit Ugandan and Ivorian accounts, dogs may even be starved to do the same. Also her informants and interviewees were wary of the idea of treating dogs as family members. (Or maybe they do treat them like family* that’s by giving them chores to do and forcing them to be independent so soon and quick.)

That and dogs being linked with witchcraft. These alone reveal why Europeans also had the same or similar attitudes in the past. I remember somewhere that women who’ve got close relations with their dogs and cats get targeted for witchcraft. Some like this Ghanaian man deliberately use their pets to commit witchcraft like cursing Cristiano Ronaldo.

There’s even an account somewhere about the role of dogs and boas in witchcraft (at least somewhere in the DRC where in another account, children are accused of witchcraft if they turn into dogs, owls and mice). Not to mention there were early modern documents about lapdogs named Minny just as there’s an account of a witch and dog familiar Minny.

Keep in mind that even then, like today some people either had positive opinions of or were tolerant of cats and dogs. Conversely speaking in Europe, there are still people who can’t stand them as to dispose them with shooting or poisoning.

*Some Western families encourage their children to be independent so and have them forced out soon enough, hence why the idea of an adult who still lives with their parents weirds them out.

Loving and hating Helena Bertinelli

Helena Bertinelli’s often held up to be a good example of both Italian American representation in comics and Italian American stereotypes, if you believe the likes of Ragnell and some Tumblr blogger before in 2014. I remember him saying how stereotypical Bertinelli’s as her name should be spelt Elena (not that the Italian language’s devoid of h but it’s commonly either found in borrowed words, exceptions like hanno and in conjunction with other letters to form gh, dh, bh and ch).

That and bad stereotypes about Southern Italians with the Mafia being xenophobic enough to exclude black Africans. Ragnell eloquently remarked about the problems with Helena Bertinelli in being a hodgepodge of Italian American stereotypes. Mediterranean beauties (she’s from Sicily), gangster ties, Mediterranean tempers and Catholicism. Marvel’s Frank Castle’s also of Sicilian descent but while he’s got flaws himself, he’s not heavily defined by his ethnicity the way Bertinelli’s.

Go figure in a sense. There are other non-stereotypical Italian Americans in DC but the only well-known one’s Zatanna (Barry Allen strikes me as a weird Crypto-Italian if because the people in charge are also Italian like moths to flames). Whilst not always the case, Helena Bertinelli comes off as a stereotype especially to Italian Americans and Italo-Canadians who’ve been hit badly by stereotypes.

It’s like for every Frank Castle and Zatanna, there’s yet another stereotypical Italian character (Japanese anime’s not any better though sometimes an Italian character maybe an overall Westerner stereotype in general).

It’s the immigrants

Though this isn’t always exactly the case, I suspect that if Ugandan and Namibian dogs have relatively less genetic diversity than Egyptian dogs do (haplotype wise), both of them could probably be descended from the latter, which in turn descends from Asian dogs. SomeĀ Madagascar dogs genetically come from Europe and may even be a proper invasive species, especially with regards to their effects on fossa populations. Keep in mind that same study’s got Madagascar settlers getting their dogs from either mainland Africa or Europe.

As the fossa’s properly native to Madagascar, it would be parsimonious that dogs are introduced there either way. This might even be true for dogs in mainland Africa to some extent, assuming if further studies prove that all African dogs came from Egypt, Egyptian dogs in turn coming from the Levant thus confirming the Afroasiastic expansion from the Levant right. It should also be unsurprising that Egypt’s close to Israel and Iraq, thus acting as a port for better or worse.

Dog populations

One study reported a genetic signature unique to African dogs though it can be argued that this might be an isolated population at that given other studies suggest that African dogs might have Middle Eastern wolf DNA (gene flow) and others are of partial European descent. It would make sense if/had dogs been introduced to Africa through the Middle East some of those African lineages might owe to being that isolated from others. Practically analogous to what Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are to each other.

(If Ugandan and Namibian dogs have less genetic diversity than their Egyptian counterparts, as Uganda’s relatively closer it should indicate that Ugandan dogs are descended from Egyptian dogs. Egyptian dogs show partial Asian descent, thus indicating divergence from Asian populations.)

If some African dogs do have Middle Eastern wolf DNA, it could not only indicate some sustained interbreeding and actually some communities (especially in Japan) encourage this but also a Middle Eastern origin in general. Which makes sense when it comes to Afro-Asiatic expansions, with their origin in the Levant. (Rather coincidentally North and Northeastern Africa’s home to considerable Muslim and Jewish populations, which also occur in the Middle East proper.)

This might also explain why some dogs have European DNA, part of it owes to immigration whether if it’s Afro-Asiatics (something that’s even pointed out in some documents involving South African dogs) or Europeans. Conversely speaking, a study on domestic cats suggests that there are some cat lineages unique to Africa with a substantial wholly Middle Eastern and Anatolian lineage. There’s even a report of cat bones in Cyprus, dating back 9000 years.

Cyprus’s next to both Greece and Turkey which shouldn’t be geographically surprising by now. Though there’s also report for a separate lineage in Southwest Asia, given a good number of Asian cat breeds are related to Southeast Asian strays it’s parsimonious to assume that cats were introduced from India via spread of Buddhism though that’s ironically declined in India, it practically persists outside of it (Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam).

(Maybe Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines also had Buddhist and even Hindu populations, though they still exist in the former.)

I also suspect the contradictions in dog genetic diversity might have more to do with many more Western dog owners being more used to purebreds than they are to stray mongrels. Mongrels and strays often go hand in hand to the point where they can’t live without the other. Mongrels tend to decline whenever strays decline. Though not always exactly the case, mongrels are likelier to occur in European countries where stray dog incidents are commonly reported.

Though there’s also the case of some studies being limited in scope, whether by bias or budget or often both.

Where sleeping dogs lie

I think I remember a study on streeties/street dogs in India’s that they spend a lot of their time resting. Maybe not always but still as to conserve energy. Even my own dogs do this, taking intermittent naps every now and then. Such behaviour’s enough to inspire the phrases ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ and ‘dog-tired’. As well as the familiar old rhyme ‘the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’.

Maybe not always exactly the case but it’s enough to inspire such phrases and nursery fables like these in addition to some of the expected positive stereotypes (same for cats to some degree). Though it can be argued that there’s a lot of misremembering going on at times. Like a Chinese riddle telephone game, one distorts the other’s story. Embellishing it with its own nuances.

It’s like how at some point in many, if not most European countries dogs were also commonly associated with witchcraft (though that may also depend on the community and region as in African countries where such beliefs occur in alpine regions, though again not always the case). Same for canine laziness and why it’s nearly forgotten in that canine laziness still occurs in idioms and nursery rhymes.

Dogs in ancient Greece

Keep in mind that dogs’ reputation isn’t always well-received (and neither are cats), let alone the idea of dogs as ideal companion animals isn’t always entirely consistent not even today for many reasons. In the book Shameless: The Canine and Feminine in Ancient Greece, dogs aren’t just associated with women but also shamelessness and treachery. If a dog’s caught dead killing livestock, urinating/defecating inside or barking at guests some would see it as shameless.

Logically if a dog kept wandering to kill prey, find mate (or packs) or in compounds, villages and around farms it seems treacherous. Dogs are even association with seduction and manipulation, especially if they keep begging for food and in Russia, some of them dupe humans by acting friendly just to get food. That dogs are manipulative isn’t just true in one recent study, Russian scientists and Ancient Greeks already knew about it.

As for dogs and women, this may’ve been a fairly frequent association before albeit one that lasted in the West right up to the early 20th century especially when it comes to old maids and lapdogs and still is recurrent to some extent elsewhere. Especially with women feeding stray dogs in Russia and Taiwan. Women hunters were noted for using dogs in Holocene Australia, which finds its Ancient Greek counterpart in the divinity Artemis.

So were witches, healers (Gula) and demonesses (Lamashtu), most notably Hecate which’s a popular association in Early Modern Europe (whatever the degree that is but popular enough to spawn plays involving women and their demonic dogs). The association’s not lost on some Ghanaian, Zambian, Ugandan and Cameroonian churches if I remember. It’s also not entirely linguistically lost too. In some languages, the word for dog’s feminine (Russian, Dyirbal, Oromo and epicene in others like Latin).

Even in genderless languages like Turkmen, the go-for word for dog’s it but a word for a specifically male dog’s kopek (that’s the default word for dog in Turkish). That’s if you pardon the limitations in the keyboard I’m using. That author’s assumptions are well-supported if you’ve read similar findings to be honest.