One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving family dinners was the “wishbone” event. Carving the turkey, my father would gleefully discover the bone from the top opening and, with his carving fork and electric knife, precariously pull it out. I watched him, praying intently that the wishbone prize would not break. It was held high in the air so that everyone could admire it. With eyes wide and laughter, I’d think about what my wishes would be if I were chosen to be the lucky one to pinky pull it and come away with the larger piece. I think I shared that wish with everyone at the table. The wishbone was quickly whisked away by my mother to the kitchen where it was cleaned and safely hung to dry. There in the window above the sink, it would hang for days, suspended on the ring of the window shade. Each time I’d walk through the kitchen my eyes were drawn to the tiny withering V-shaped bone swaying back and forth on its little trapeze. Eventually, I got to participate in the snapping ritual. I figured out that the higher up, closer to the apex, that I held my side of the bone, the more likely I’d be to come away with the larger piece.

The custom of wishbone-cracking started a long time ago. Ancient Shamans were known to be able to divine the future, casting and reading the patterns of chicken bones. http://www.williamjames.com/History/SHAMANS.htm

The ancient Romans were known to pull apart chicken clavicles hoping for good fortune. In the New Americas, Pilgrims played tug-of-war with the larger bones of the more plentiful wild turkey.

The rules haven’t changed since ancient times. Each person grabs an end and gives a yank. If you get the bigger piece, your wish will be granted. An interesting version of this ritual is that the wish can be transferred. You could wish that someone else would get her wish. Sure. That’s going to happen in this lifetime.

The term wishbone didn’t emerge until the mid-1800s, around the time President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.

So what exactly is a wishbone and, does a dog have one?

The wishbone is a forked bone found in birds and some other animals. The Latin term for the shape of the wishbone is furcula, which means “little fork.” It is formed by the fusion of the two clavicles. In birds, its primary function is in the strengthening of the thoracic skeleton to withstand the rigors of flight. The furcula works as a strut between a bird’s shoulders, and articulates to each of the bird’s scapulae, shoulder blades. In conjunction with the coracoid and the scapula, it forms a unique structure called the triosseal canal, which houses a strong tendon that connects the supracoracoideus muscles to the humerus. This system is responsible for lifting the wings during the recovery stroke.

Dogs don’t have wings and dogs don’t fly, so they do not have furculae. The best reference to flying dogs that I could find was the Flying Dog brewing company. They brew one of my very favorite beers, Raging Bitch Belgian IPA. With a name like that I just had to try it. And I’m glad I did. The Flying Dog beer is great and their humorous
marketing deserves a link: http://flyingdogbrewery.com/beers/raging-bitch/.

So dogs don’t have furcula; do they have clavicles? Wait, what’s a clavicle? The clavicle in mammals is a doubly curved short bone that connects the arm (upper limb) to the body (trunk). It is located directly above the first rib. Place your thumb and forefinger around the base of your neck and the bones you feel when you press downward are your clavicles, collar bones. Your clavicle acts as a strut to keep your scapula in place so your arm can hang freely. Medially, it articulates with the manubrium of the sternum (top of the breast-bone) at the sternoclavicular joint. At its lateral end it articulates with the acromion of the scapula (shoulder blade) at the acromioclavicular joint.

The clavicle in mammals serves several functions. It serves as a rigid support from which the scapula and free forelimb (arm) are suspended. This arrangement has the function of keeping the upper limb away from the thorax (ribcage) so that the arm has maximum range of movement. Acting as a flexible, crane-like strut, the clavicle allows the scapula to move freely on the thoracic wall. Its surface features are attachment sites for muscles and ligaments of the shoulder. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clavicle

The reason some animals have either a reduced or no clavicle is that the bone supports muscles used in climbing. If the animal doesn’t climb, it doesn’t use it, doesn’t need it, and it devolves. Most mammals do have at least a vestigal remnant of a clavicle, although it is in varying degrees of development.

Do dogs and horses have clavicles? What about cats?

Animals that run like horses and dogs really don’t have a need for a clavicle or the support it provides. This is also why their wrists are fused (much more so in the horse than the dog) and they really can’t rotate their forelimbs like we can our forearms.

However, climbers like cats do have clavicles. So do squirrels, monkeys and humans. We all need the bones to support the muscles useful in climbing trees. These animals can also rotate their limbs (especially forelimbs) outward to help grasp tree trunks and limbs. So, animals that can climb trees have clavicles, and dogs really can’t climb trees! https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061124134605AAkoGih Yes, I know about the tree climbing dog Catahoula; that is more about the functionality of the dewclaws. http://www.cracked.com/article_20831_6-dog-breeds-with-secret-superpowers.html

Reduction or loss of the clavicle is actually normal in both hoofed and carnivorous mammals, so a “floating shoulder” exists in horses, dogs and many other species. This improves running efficiency because, once the shoulder blade is no longer restrained by the clavicle, it can act almost like an extra limb segment. Since running speed is equal to stride length times stride frequency (i.e. number of strides per minute, or other unit of time), long stride length allows an animal to run faster without having to move its limbs so quickly. http://www.askabiologist.org.uk/answers/viewtopic.php?id=3590 (There might be a test on this part.)

So, dogs have only vestigal remnants of clavicles. They are about the size and shape of buttons and function as sites for muscle attachment. Dogs are designed for speed. Yes, even Bassett Hounds.

See, and purchase the charts, The Skeleton of the Dog (Dog Bones) http://petmassage.com/?product=skeleton-chart-pm-3 and Dog Joints and Ligaments http://petmassage.com/?product=joints-and-ligaments-chart-pm-4

Do dogs wish on wishbones?

We humans have a very innate need to have some sense of control of our futures. We believe that we can influence the making of our dreams to come true with intention. We believe in Karma. We use prayer, affirmations (See Anastasia’s Arf. below), action, and once a year, we allow our hopes and dreams to ride on wishbones. The act of wishing is valuable in itself. Wishing, choosing what to wish for, helps us define what we want. When we know what we want, we know when we get it. When our goals are definable they are attainable.

Lying at your feet under the Thanksgiving table, you can be sure that your dogs are living in the moment without all our wishbone control issues. They don’t need a bigger crate or more toys. They are simply present, tantalized by the aroma and longing for a bite of any part of the turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving 2014 from everyone at the PetMassageTMSchool.

1 Comment

  1. 1covertly on January 12, 2022 at 6:14 PM


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