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Smithsonian Magazine March 1999
    
CAROLINA DOGS,

DISCOVERED IN THE

SOUTHEAST WOODS,

MAY PROVIDE CLUES

TO THE PRIMITIVE

DOGS THAT ARRIVED

WITH THE FIRST

HUMANS IN AMERICA

   It's not often that a registered breed of dog starts with a castoff that even the pound didn't want and a stray plucked out of the woods.  But it is even less likely that such animals would provide one of those rare "Eureka!" moments in science, drawing back the curtain on both evolution and human culture, and providing clues to the mysterious origins of the long, fruitful partnership that exists between humans and canines.
   And yet, that's exactly what happened with the shy enigma of a creature known as the Carolina dog, which just may be a remnant of the first animals to accompany numans across the Bering land bridge to North America thousands of years ago.  Then again, it may be nothing more than a modern mutt; no one is exactly sure, and the genetic evidence, while suggestive, is thus far inconclusive.   Regardless, the Carolina dog, and several other demonstrably primitive canids, some nearing extinction, are part of a controversial reexamination of how modern dogs arose, and even more fundamental questions about the process of domestication itself.
   If you passed a Carolina dog on a back road in humid South Carolina Low Country, where stands of tall longleaf pine alternate with crop fields and cypress swamps, chances are you wouldn't spare it a glance-- it would seem to be just a scrawny, medium-sized mongrel with a reddish-yellow coat, upright ears and a whiplash tail curling up over its back, what rural Southerners have long called a "yaller" dog.  And for years, that's all I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr., thought they were, too
   Brisbin-- "Bris" to his colleagues at the Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL) in Aiken, South Carolina-- saw these skittish feral dogs from time to time.  

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The Carolina Dog Association

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