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10 Fun Facts About The New Breeds Appearing in the 2015 Westminster Dog Show

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In a press conference yesterday, the Westminster Kennel Club showed off two new breeds—Coton de Tulears and Wirehaired Vizslas—that will compete in its 139th annual dog show. Here are a few things you might not have known about these adorable pooches.


Falko, a 17-month-old Wirehaired Vizsla from Montreal. Photo by Erin McCarthy.

1. The Wirehaired Vizsla is a hunting dog that hails from Hungary. Vizsla means “quick” or “pointer” in Hungarian.

2. In the 1920s and ‘30s, breeders wanted a dog similar in personality and looks to the smooth-haired Magyar Vizsla, but wanted it to be better able to withstand conditions in the field. That meant a thicker coat. To create the new breed, Vasas Jozsef, owner of the Csaba vizsla kennel in Hejocsaba, bred two of his female Vizslas with a brown German Wirehaired Pointer owned by de Salle Kennel’s Gresznarik Lazslo. The first Wirehaired Vizsla was shown in 1943. Other breeds that may have been incorporated include the wirehaired pointing griffon, pudelpointer, Irish setter and maybe even a bloodhound.

3. In addition to helping it be more comfortable in all kinds of terrible weather, the Wirehaired Vizsla’s rust-colored coat acts as camouflage, helping it blend in with dried grasses.

4. Both the Maygar and Wirehaired Vizsla breeds were nearly wiped out during World War II.

5. Wirehaired Vizslas are calm and gentle and will doggedly stay on scent, making them good in the home and in the field. And they love to swim!


Coton de Tulears Chanel (right) and Burberry (left) from New Jersey. Photo by Erin McCarthy. 

6. Coton de Tulear—pronounced KO-Tone Dih TOO-Lay-ARE—includes the French word for “cotton,” which perfectly describes the soft, silky coats of these pups.

7. The exact origins of the Coton de Tulear is a mystery, but it’s believed that they date back to the 15th century, and popped up in Madagascar in the 17th century. They’re named after the island’s Port of Tulear.

8. The dog was sometimes brought aboard ships to take care of rodents.

9. The Coton de Tulear is the Official Dog of Madagascar, and is sometimes called the Royal Dog of Madagascar (for a long time, only Malagasy royalty and noblemen could own the dog).

10. The dog was honored with a postage stamp in Madagascar in 1974—the same year that it arrived in North America.

Sources: The American Kennel Club (1, 2); Wirehaired Vizsla Club of America; The United States of America Coton de Tulear Club; Canadian Coton du Tulear Club

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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