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A dog's heart normally beats between 70 to 180 times per minute, with little dogs having a faster heart rate. A puppy will also have a faster pulse—up to 220 beats per minute. You can take your dog's pulse at home, by the way, but not by putting your fingertips on your dog's wrist as you would with a person. Instead, check the heart rate in one of two places:
Choice 1: Put your hand over your dog's left side, behind the front leg. You'll feel the heart pulsing beneath your fingers. (If you can't, you might talk to your veterinarian about getting some of the fat off your dog.)
Choice 2: Put your fingertips on the femoral artery, located on the inside of the back leg just where it meets the body, and right in the middle. (It's a pretty big blood vessel, so you shouldn't have any problem finding it.)
Either way, count the beats while fifteen seconds clicks off your watch; multiply by four to get the BPM, or beats per minute. Do it when your dog is healthy and relaxed, so you'll know what's normal.
Normal canine body temperature is between 101.5 and 102 degrees, give or take a degree. You can use a traditional thermometer, or one of those newer ones that takes an electronic reading from the ear canal. (If you use the non-ear kind, be sure to take an indelible-ink marker and clearly write 'dog' on the one you plan to use for your dog, so there's no confusion. You don't want something in your mouth that has been in your dog's fanny!)
Old Drums will never
While humankind and dogs have had a long and productive partnership, it wasn't until 1870 that the phrase 'man's best friend' became part of dog lore. A dog named Old Drum had been shot to death, and in a courtroom speech worthy of a Hollywood classic—we see Gregory Peck in the role—country lawyer George Graham Vest left not a dry eye in the house while talking about the true value of a dog.
It worked. Old Drum's owner won the case, and George Vest became so famous that he was later elected to the U.S. Senate.
'The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog,' said Vest in a Warrensburg, Missouri, court that day. No doubt he remembered those in the Senate later in his life.
Old Drum, by the way, has never been forgotten. In 1958, Warrensburg put up a statue to honor the memory of a good hunting hound who was one man's best friend to the end.
In later years, Vest's tribute became one of the standards on sympathy cards sent out by veterinarians after a client lost a beloved pet. Playwright Eugene O'Neill's lovely 1940 tribute to his Dalmatian Blemie in 'The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O'Neill' also became a favorite.
Save your dogs tags—
they may be valuable
People have always wanted some way to get a roving dog home. And government authorities have always wanted a way to either put a property tax on a dog or, in later years, ensure that the animal was vaccinated against rabies. Dogs have been licensed for centuries, but the idea of a tag to signify that a dog was 'street legal' seems to date to the late nineteenth century, when Cincinnati, Ohio, started issuing tags on an annual basis, and other cities and states soon followed suit.
Although wooden tags for soldiers were used in the U.S. Civil War to help identify the injured and the dead, it wasn't until World War I that American soldiers got metal tags as standard issue. The resemblance between the tags of soldiers and of dogs—along with a good dollop of droll military humor—soon had the new tags called 'dog tags,' a term that sticks to this day. The way people love to collect things, it's probably no surprise to anyone that there's an International Society of Animal License Collectors, and no small amount of buying and selling of tags on the Internet. Unfortunately, modern tags will be of little interest to future collectors. While governments used to issue some tags that were creative and downright adorable—shaped like doghouses, acorns, police shields, and more—today's tags are the height of utilitarian design.
That's why the old tags are valuable, with tags of whimsical appearance, decent condition, and age going for hundreds of dollars.
were no dogs
A handful of hit records referenced dogs in the titles, perhaps most notably the Elvis Presley 1956 cover of the blues song 'Hound Dog.' But three years earlier, Patti Page's song '(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?' topped the charts for eight weeks.
And how about a band named after a dog? The popular '70s hit-makers Three Dog Night—who wished 'joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea,' but didn't say one word to the dogs—took their name from Australian Aboriginal lingo, judging how cold a night was by how many dogs it took to snuggle with to stay warm.
And it's a good strategy, by the way, since a dog's normal body temperature is just enough higher than a person's to make him a natural heating pad or furry hot water bottle in a pinch. That may be why we put up with dog fur on the comforter as we share our own beds with our pets.
Don't bite the man
who names you
A handful of breeds was named for people. Louis Dobermann, a German tax collector in the mid-nineteenth century, developed the elegant and protective breed that bears his name to, in the words of Britain's Kennel Club, 'protect him and . . . 'encourage' slow payers.' In the U.K., the second 'n' is retained in the name of the breed, but it's missing in the American name of the dog—as are part of the breed's ears, since ear cropping is common in the United States but illegal in England.
The Parson Russell Terrier—more commonly known as the Jack Russell—was named after the Rev. John Russell, a Victorian-era clergyman with a fondness for hunting terriers. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was named after King Charles II—although the breed was named centuries after his death because the dog was redeveloped by fanciers in England after World War II, separating it from the King Charles Spaniel, which is known in the United States as the English Toy Spaniel, a favorite dog of the British gentry for centuries. There's also the Gordon Setter, named after the Duke of Gordon.
Arguably, you can say that the Saint Bernard was named after a person, but really, the breed was probably named after the monastery where the dogs became famous for their heroic rescue efforts. (This is no longer practiced, by the way. The monastery now 'borrows' Saint Bernards from nearby towns for tourist season, but doesn't keep any otherwise.)
Then there's the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, who isn't named for a real person at all, but rather after a character in Sir Walter Scott's Guy Mannering. There's something else fairly unique about the long-bodied, short-legged dog with a puff of fur on his head and whiskers on his muzzle: Dandies are so rare that the breed is considered on the verge of extinction. Every year, more pandas are born than Dandies.
©2007.Marty Becker, D.V.M., Gina Spadafori. All rights reserved. Reprinted from bowWOW!. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street , Deerfield Beach , FL 33442.