For thousands of years, woolly dogs were cherished as family members and raised on islands or kept in pens to ensure they didn’t interbreed with other dogs, according to Michael Pavel, an elder of the Skokomish-Twana tribe and one of the authors of the study, published Thursday in the journal Science. The last woolly dogs disappeared around the end of the 19th century, but they have been kept alive in stories passed down by Coast Salish elders.
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A very good boy called Mutton
When Mutton died later that year, his pelt was collected, with a tag noting: “Mr G[ibbs]’s dog ‘Mutton’ Chiloweyuck Indians.” Researchers aren’t sure exactly where Mutton was from, but they note that he could have come from a Coast Salish community near the present-day town of Chilliwack, which sits on the Fraser River, east of Vancouver, on the lands of the Stó:lō Nation.
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“It’s easy to assume the dogs running around the Americas thousands of years ago all looked the same and were generic-looking, and people were interacting with them but weren’t managing them in they way they do today,” Witt Dillon said. “In some parts of the Americas, people were doing a lot to cultivate specific traits in their dogs.”
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