"That dog won't hunt," famous crack by former Texas governor Ann Richards during the Bush-Clinton presidential race in 1992 is laden with truth as any dog owner knows.
Retrievers swim. Bichon's don't.
It's become a cliche almost to suggest to folks how much they physically resemble their dogs. Now, scientists have discovered humans share about 75-percent of their genetic makeup with their canine companions.
This study reminds me of a similar project in the early 1990s, at the University of California at Berkeleywhere researchers set up an extraordinary investigation into canine genetics in an effort to understand canine behavior.
The lead researcher, Jasper Rine, focused on Border collies, legendary for their herding behavior, and Newfoundlands, seamen's dogs originally bred to save drowning mariners. Newfoundlands are imbued with the remarkable instinct to rescue humans from water.
A female Newfoundland named Pepper and a Border collie named Gregor (after pioneer geneticist Gregor Mendel) produced a litter (first generation G-1). Each puppy has been adopted by a specially selected family in the Berkeley environs in order to ensure the integrity of the long-term study of inheritable behaviors. Observable traits early in the experiment included eye contact with owner, sociability demands, and affinity for water.