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WOTD: Eternal Dog

Today's word of the day is: Eternal Dog

Eternal Dog: n. 1. A supreme being worshipped by dyslexics

A long time ago in China, there lived a dog named Zhou-Zhou. It might have been three hundred years ago. It might have been five hundred years ago. It might even have been two thousand years ago, but probably not much longer ago than that. Zhou-Zhou may have been a Husky, a Shih Tzu, or even a wolf. His name almost certainly wasn't Zhou-Zhou, but that's the name we'll use as we imagine him to be a beloved and well-mannered farm dog who lived in a remote peasant village.

Anyone who's ever owned a dog knows that they don't live forever. Usually. But Zhou-Zhou's owners probably wished their dog would never die. Because Zhou-Zhou was such a good boy, yes he was! And when you wish for something hard enough and often enough, sometimes your wish comes true. That's just playing the odds.

Sometime during his life, Zhou-Zhou got a little sick. One of the cells in his immune system became cancerous and grew into a tumor the size of a grapefruit. After a few months the tumor went away, and Zhou-Zhou was healthy again. So healthy that he had become immortal...in a way.

Today, a tumor like Zhou-Zhou's is called canine transmissible venereal tumor or CTVT. It only affects dogs, and usually doesn't kill them. Some scientists used to believe that CTVT was caused by a virus and spread from dog to dog, but a new study suggests that it's the cancer itself that moves from dog to dog, which would be different from any other kind of cancer that we know of so far.

When scientists sequenced the DNA of CTVT cells from dogs all over the world, they discovered that the cells were all related to each other. They hadn't mutated from the dogs they were currently in. Instead, they had all mutated from Zhou-Zhou.

Zhou-Zhou is dead in any way that his original owners would recognize, but part of him lives on. As a parasite. A parasite evolved from a dog and has spread to dogs on five continents through centuries of licking, biting, and mating. And this little piece of Zhou-Zhou will continue to exist for as long as dogs continue to exist to serve as hosts.

Sometimes you really do have to be careful what you wish for.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 16th, 2006 12:19 am (UTC)
Aug. 17th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
In answer to your recent email over at A Year of Reading...
Well, it wasn't so recent. Sorry I'm so slow getting back to you! (And the email address you left didn't work, that's why I'm using your comments.)

You wanted to know what teachers might like in your Class of 2K7 website. Since you're all new authors, I'm guessing that you haven't DONE any author visits in schools yet, but maybe you're of an age that you HAD an author visit in your growing up time? I would channel back to those visits and get some information on your site that answers the kinds of questions that kids are likely to ask. Teachers might be more likely to use your site if they can use it with their class in some way.

It would also be great for writing workshops if each of you would talk about your writing process, and the process involved in getting your book published. Also maybe some tips for (kid) writers.

Hope that helps! Best of luck!

Mary Lee
A Year of Reading
Aug. 17th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)
Re: In answer to your recent email over at A Year of Reading...
Thanks for the ideas, Mary Lee

We never had an author visit our class when I was growing up, but we did have an illustrator once. He showed us four-color separation plates, and I'm sure I wasn't the only kid to come away with the impression that illustrating a book required the superhuman ability to draw four different pictures in four different inks so that they'd combine into a single image. It was extremely discouraging. :D
Aug. 17th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
Re: In answer to your recent email over at A Year of Reading...
You know, they really did do that,too-- before computer art. Terrible terrible thing. Scared me off illustrating for a long time! The important missing piece is the light table that the illustrator used to do those color plates-- makes it a bit simpler since you could superimpose each color on the others. But still.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )