Wishbones: more than you probably wanted to know.

We humans have an innate need to have some sense of control of our futures. We believe that with focus and intention we can influence the making of our dreams to come true. We believe in Karma. We believe in the power of prayer, affirmations, goal setting, and plans of action.

The act of wishing is valuable in itself. Wishing, choosing what to wish for, helps us define what we want. When our goals are definable, they are attainable.

And, once a year, we allow our hopes and dreams to ride on the snap of the clavicle of a toasted turkey. The wishbone.

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.

What’s a clavicle?

The clavicle in mammals is part of the axial skeleton. It’s a doubly curved short bone that connects the arm (upper limb) to the body (trunk). Its location is 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. They’re also known as “collar bones”.

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 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

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 fly; so, they don’t have a furcula.

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

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. We can also rotate our limbs (especially forelimbs) outward to help grasp tree trunks and limbs. So, animals that can climb trees have clavicles.

Dogs really can’t climb trees! Do dogs have any remnants or versions of clavicles?

Animals that run, like horses and dogs, really don’t have a need for a clavicle or the support it provides. They have a “floating shoulder.” 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.

The vestigial remnants of dogs clavicles are about the size and shape of buttons and function as sites for muscle attachment. Dogs are designed for speed.

Do dogs wish on wishbones too? At them, or for them, not on them. Lying at your feet under the Thanksgiving table, you can be sure that your dogs are living in the moment without the control issues that we have. They don’t envision needing a bigger crate or more toys. They are simply present; tantalized by the aromas of the feast above and willing with all their might that something -anything- will drop.

Designed, yes; functioning and motivated? As you lock eyes with your dog under the table, you think, “Yeah, at eating.”

As you grasp the turkey wishbone this Thanksgiving holiday dinner, and express your gratitude for the prosperity you are creating, and your friends and loved ones, please know that everyone at The PetMassage School includes you in their prayers. Thank you for your continued interest in, and passion for, canine massage.

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