The Italian island of Sardinia, the second-largest in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily), is officially a Blue Zone—home to some of the longest-living men in the world.
As of this month, it’s also home to a rare puppy with green fur.
Source: Reuters | Cristian Mallocci
The tiny dog, immediately named Pistachio by Italian farmer and owner Cristian Mallocci, was part of a five-dog litter born on October 9, all with white fur, the same colour as their mixed breed mum. Except him.
Pistachio’s mother, Spelacchia (Italian for “mangy”), is one of eight dogs who look after the sheep on Cristian’s farm that he co-runs with his brother-in-law Giannangelo Liperi.
It’s extremely rare—but not impossible—for a dog to be born with green-coloured fur. It’s thought that it happens when pale-coloured puppies have contact in their mother’s womb with a green pigment called biliverdin. It is the same pigment that causes the green colour in bruises.
Earlier this year, Gypsy, a white German Shepherd in North Carolina, USA, gave birth to a bright green puppy the owners subsequently named Hulk.
In an interview with CNN, veterinarian technician Suzanne Cianciulli offered an alternate explanation for the little dog’s verdant hue: “Each puppy is located within their own sac in the uterus, and the sac is full of fluid. If they have meconium in that sac, it will actually stain their fur.”
(We’re certain as mums, we’re all-too-familiar with meconium, but just in case you’re wondering, it’s an infant mammal’s first stool. We’re also thankful that lime green human babies are even rarer, although a common phenomena, especially in babies with African or Asian backgrounds, is what’s typically known as Mongolian spots. These are bluish-green to black birthmarks that usually disappear by two years of age.)
The bright green colouring on these dogs is temporary and will continue to fade as they get older.
Little green Forest was born in the Scottish Highlands in July 2017. (Source: CNN | Louise Sutherland)
A week later, Forest’s green colouring has faded significantly. (Source: CNN | Louise Sutherland)
Back in Italy, Cristian plans to give Pistachio’s brothers and sisters away to new homes, but will keep the little green puppy on his farm and train him up to look after the sheep with his mother Spelacchia.
Cristian said that during these tough times of the coronavirus pandemic, green is the symbol of hope and luck, so maybe it was meant to be that Pistachio could put a smile on people’s faces.
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