Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Obey the Jack Russell

Show your revolutionary fervor on a T-shirt, coffee cup, poster or bag. >>

They have greyhounds and dachshunds as well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Digging in the Woods on a Hot Day

Mountain pulls a very small groundhog that Sailor bolted to the edge of the pipe. It was nice not to have to dig this one, as it was 90 degrees in the shade.

The sette entrance is at left. Sailor is looking into a hole I dug near the entrace at a very tight turn. Somewhere down that hole is my other Russell -- Mountain -- giving a medium-sized groundhog the "what for".

This sette was on a very steep bank. The soil was very loose where it had washed down from the fields, but underneath the loam it was very hard rock -- some of it quite large pieces. They don't call this area the "Flint Hills" for nothing!

I was digging alone, and too tired to walk back to the car for the heavy Bertha, but I managed to bust up the rock a bit with the 3/4 inch bar -- the second and last groundhog of the day. I called it off a bit before noon -- the heat was just too much. The dogs were still game, but I was not.

Sailor moves a little dirt at the first sette of the day.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Fertilizer Pile Groundhog

This was a sette dug into a pile of fertilizer. I believe this fertilizer is actually aerated sludge from a waste treatment plant. In any case, it's been rendered quite harmless by aeration and composting, but the stuff is as fine as talc and would be trouble in the dog's eyes.

I spotted the holes just as I came onto the farm, and collapsed them so the dogs would not get into this sette, which has a high probability of collapsing on its own should a dog enter it. Better safe than sorry.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Bothie the Polar Dog

Bothie, the Jack Russell Terrier, went round the world with the Transglobe Expedition and is the only dog to have ever left his paw prints on both North and South Poles.

Bothie's owners, Ranulph and Virginia Fiennes, took a three-year expedition around the world via the poles, and took Bothie along for the polar ends of the ride (he skipped Africa, as it was too hot).

The trip started in 1979 when Bothie was two years old. The dog had been found in 1977 as a four-week old pup, running loose in a Hampshire village, and was given to the Fiennes as a present. They named it Bothie -- a colloquial term for an outhouse.

While on board ship Bothie wore a harness safety, like everyone else, and he was smart enough to make special friends with the cook. Bothie had a special polar suit and boots made for him (complete with Baclava) to keep him warm in Antarctica.

Bothie was not much of a hunter -- his response to his first Antarctic penguin was retreat at full speed.

After the Antarctic, Bothie's next stop (some time later) was the Yukon where he made friends with a large black dog that was a cross between a Newfoundland and Husky X Labrador. The two dogs became inseparable.

In 1982, after coming back to the UK from his trans-polar expedition, Bothie was voted "Pet of the Year" and the Chairman of the Kennel Club invited Bothie to do a "circuit of honour" and present a prize at the 1983 Crufts Dog Show.

Bothie's adventures are documented in Virginia Fiennes' book, "Bothie the Polar Dog," published by Hodder and Stoughton.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Read Country Books

Benjamin Read has a well-named business called "Read Country Books" which publishes and sells books about dogs and country pursuits. They specialize in reprinting hard-to-find, out-of-print books and have some excellent stuff on terriers, lurchers, wildlife, trapping, etc. In addition to their publishing imprint and reprints, Read Country Books also stocks a number of high quality videos and DVDs that may be of interest.

Mr. Read does a fair amout of business through EBay at >>

The main "Read Country Books" web site is at >>

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Fox Sign in June

Young dead possum outside of active fox den. This little fellow was really ripe in the unseasonal heat we had the weekend before last!

The corn is growing very fast now, and within a week or two the fox will no longer be in the hedgerows, but be laying up in the cool shade of the fields where they can hear an approaching human from a long way off.

Fox sette.
Note vertical hole fairly typical of a fox sette, along with the long kick out. This sette is right on the edge of a corn field, and hopefully this large sette will get occupied by raccoon as the corn nears maturity in September.

Fox track located along wet swale that is now drying out in the June heat. Note the claws clearly evident at the front of the track -- a classic sign of a canid. Cat tracks do not have claws. This track is narrower than it is wide. A Jack Russell or other domestic dog track will be closer to round. A wet swale like this will attract nesting birds, a lot of bugs, and small snakes and frogs -- ready food for fox which are also attracted by even a small patch of standing water.

Another fox sette, this one with a rounder hole, but with the same long kick out from where the fox has dug out the dirt. A fox is a type of dog (canid) and they dig just like a dog does, throwing dirt backward without much order, unlike a groundhog. Note how sandy and dry this soil is -- an easy dig in a good location for this fox.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Water Polo with Groundhogs

The dogs bolted a groundhog into a pond on Sunday. Mountain and Sailor and Millie followed the groundhog right into the water, and in short order the groundhog was drowned, which apparently was a good thing. From what I gather, groundhogs in water - like raccoons -- can be very serious critters, as their teeth are right at eye, throat and nose level.

This picture, above, was taken on the fly, but the nose of the groundhog can be seen at the far right, next to Sailor (the white dog is Mountain). This groundhog bobbed to the surface only three times before disappearing underwater for good. At the end of the day, we checked out the pond and the groundhog was floating about 12 feet off the bank, head down and butt up.

By the way all the dogs went swimming and all the collars worked afterwards -- proof that taping well works!

A total of five groundhogs were accounted for this day, which was about 25 degrees cooler than last weekend.

The picture below was taken inside a hedgerow. This sette went under a tree stump. Notice the thick vines at back -- I do not know how people can operate in American hedgerows without a machete to hack away wild grape, mutliflora rose, take out small trees, etc. A saw is a fine tool for roots, but a machete can clear an area for digging pretty quickly. It's a dangerous tool, however -- always cut away from yourself.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pierce O'Conner Terrier Book

Sporting Terriers: Their History, Training and Management by Piece O'Conor was reissued in 2001. This book was originally published in 1926. Chapters One and Two deal with Medieval earthdogs and Tudor and Stuart period earth dogs (a lot of myth here!), Chapters Three and Four cover "Modern Terriers" and "qualities which make a good working terrier," Chapters Five and Six cover "Choice of Breed" and raising and training. Chapter Seven is on the Fox, Eight on the Badger, Nine on the Otter, Ten on equipment for badger digging, Eleven on "notes on badger hunting," with subsequent chapters on otter hunting, weasel hunting, rats, rabbiting, terrier trials, housing terriers, feeding, sickness and injury.

The book is 157 pages long and has black and white illustrations and a new foreward by the late Brian Plummer.

To order, try Coch-y-Bonddu Books or or or

Friday, June 17, 2005

Very Far Out There (Only in America)

For those that like the truely bizarre, here's a site that is guaranteed to meet the test >>

This kind of stuff actually has its origins in Victorian times when fanciful taxidermy creatures were sometimes made, some of which ended up being displayed as real animals (such as the various "FeeJee Mermaids" exhibited at side shows).

In modern times, sport taxidermy has found a home in the American West where roadside restaurants in Wyoming and the Dakotas routinely have mounted "jack-a-lopes".

Note: no animals were purposefully killed for these creations. As the web site notes, "None of the animals used in [Sarina Brewer's] work are hunting trophies or were killed for the purpose of using them in these projects. Specimens are roadkill, discarded livestock, destroyed nuisance animals, casualties of the pet trade, or died of natural causes. A strict 'waste not, want not' policy is adhered to in the studio - virtually every part of the animal is utilized in some fashion."

And yes, she is an artist with a great deal of talent. Not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure, but the lady has skills. What a country!

Some People Need a Whipping

Animal Rights people seem to routinely go off the deep end. This crowd has gone so far as to kidnap journalists and torture them, burn down building complexes, jab horses with sharp pins in order to throw their riders (see what happens next in the picture above), and "liberate" chickens back to the wild.

Perhaps the most outrageous thing ever atempted, however, occured when two anti-hunt campaigners tried to dig up the remains of the 83-year old Duke of Beaufort who had died 10 months earlier. Their intent was to cut off his head and send it to his friend, Princess Anne, but they were thwarted in their efforts when their shovel broke.

They were caught when their parents turned them in (23 years old and living at home!), and they were given two years in prison where we can only hope they were treated like chimpanzees in a gorilla cage.

The Guardian (London), June 6, 1986
Grave Raid Thwarted by Broken Shovel
Two men accused of plot to disinter the Duke of Beaufort

Members of an anti-hunting group plotted to open the grave of the Duke of Beaufort and send his head to Princess Anne, it was claimed at Bristol Crown Court yesterday.

But their Boxing Day raid on the hunting duke's burial plot at Badminton Parish Church, Avon, failed when they were only 10 inches from the coffin because a shovel broke, claimed Mr Ian
Glen, prosecuting.

Instead, the group painted slogans in the churchyard and stole a temporary wooden cross marking the grave of the duke, who had been buried about 10 months earlier.

Two alleged members of the raiding party are on trial at Bristol. They deny charges of conspiracy to disinter the duke, conspiracy to damage the grave and theft of the cross on December 26, 1984.

The judge, Mr Justice Hutchison has ruled that the young people, one from London and one from the West Midlands, should not be identified.

Mr Glen claimed that the pair were members of the Hunt Retribution Squad, which aimed to open the grave, scatter parts of the duke's body on the edge of his estate and send the head to Princess Anne - whom they described as a 'fellow blood junkie'.

The tenth duke, who died aged 83, was a close friend of the Queen and the master of the Beaufort Hunt. He also founded the Badminton horse trials.

Mr Glen said that after the raid the squad sent photographs and a press release to the Press Association, Britain's national news agency.

The press release warned of possible violent action against a number of other people associated with hunting, including the Royal Family, football manager Jackie Charlton, football presenter Jimmy Hill, the actress Jane Seymour, the leader of the House of Lords, Lord Whitelaw, and the then Defence Secretary, Mr Michael Heseltine.

The pictures showed three masked figures holding the stolen cross and digging tools - and two of the figures were identified by their parents as the accused.

The mother of the London-based defendant told the jury that she became suspicious after finding her son, his co-accused, and two other people watching a video recording of the TV coverage of the raid four or five times.

alerted police, who raided his flat.

When shown a photograph of masked figures with the cross from the grave in court she said she could identify her son.

The father of the West Midlands man said in a statement read to the court that he recognised his son in a photograph sent to the Press Association from the long forehead and eyes.

The trial continues.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Virginia Rabies Death: Be Careful Out There

From The Washington Post, May 30, 2005
Article by Timothy Dwyer

Death a Dire Reminder of Rabies Threat; Fairfax Virginia Family Copes With Raccoon Strain's Only Human Fatality

Edward P. Hurley III -- Eddie to everyone who knew him -- was the kind of guy who never got sick. He was a touch over 6 feet tall and kept in shape by jogging and playing on two softball teams.

Two years ago, on Valentine's Day, he developed a low-grade fever. His family figured he was coming down with the flu. But for 10 days he just couldn't seem to shake the fever. On the 11th day, he was slurring his words and had trouble keeping his balance. Four days later, he went into a coma. On March 10, Hurley, 25 -- his brain no longer functioning -- died. Doctors told his family that they thought he had meningitis and encephalitis.

In June, they were given a different cause of death by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hurley had died of rabies.

He is the first and only person in the United States to die of raccoon rabies, Virginia Health Department officials have said.

Rabies has taken up permanent residence in the Washington area. The raccoon strain of rabies has infected the region's fox, groundhog and squirrel populations, in addition to the raccoons. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a wildlife oral-vaccination campaign underway in parts of the country, including southwest Virginia, that is designed to keep the disease from spreading, but it doesn't get rid of it where it is established. For now, people in the area -- and their pets -- have no choice but to live among rabid wildlife.

"Rabies is a cyclical thing," said Earl Hodnett, a wildlife biologist for Fairfax County. "But what really drives the number of human exposures is the increase in population. As areas become more developed, the chance of encountering a rabid raccoon is greatly increased."

Eddie Hurley never had been identified publicly as the Northern Virginia man who died of rabies in 2003. For privacy reasons, his name was withheld by authorities when they announced the cause of death. Recently, his parents, Kathleen and Edward P. Hurley Jr., sat at the dining room table in their Herndon home and talked about their son's death. They agreed to speak because they believe their experience could help educate the public about rabies.

"People know of the disease," Ed Hurley Jr. said, "but I don't think they understand how easy it is to get it. I am not 100 percent sure that most people know you can die from it."

Eddie Hurley died a horrible death. The disease attacked his nervous system, slowly taking away his speech, his balance, altering his moods and then attacking his brain. His family has no idea how or when he contracted the disease.

"Eddie's nature was such that if, in fact, he was ever bitten by something, he would almost brag about it," his father said. "You know: 'Hey, guess what happened to me? I've just got bitten,' or whatever. So we don't know whether he had a cut on his leg or his hand and some dog happened to lick him while he was jogging .... We couldn't put a handle on it. We do know he was not an animal lover."

His mother and father sat at the table in a home still filled with Eddie's life. Photos of him, along with his brother and sister, are all over the house. As they spoke, Kathy Hurley showed off his wedding picture. Often, Ed and Kathy Hurley would finish each other's thoughts when they spoke of their son.

Looking back, Ed Hurley said he is glad they did not know their son was infected with the rabies virus, because once the symptoms appear, death is all but certain. If an antiviral treatment is begun immediately after contact with a rabid animal, survival is likely.

"I think it would have been more difficult to have gotten through it if we had known that there was no hope," Hurley's father said. "We still felt a great deal of helplessness. It was almost like you want to reach out and grab whatever it is that is taking him over and pull it out of him."

Richard Cash is a first responder in the war against rabies. Cash, 25, has been a Fairfax County animal control officer for 4 1/2 years. He drives a van with all sizes of cages in the rear. Up front, he has a cell phone, a police radio and a laptop computer mounted on a bracket. He is well-armed. In addition to his sidearm, Cash has a standard-issue police shotgun, a tranquilizer gun and a .22 rifle. "That is the one we use frequently on wildlife," he said recently while answering calls in the county.

Cash was on the way to Alexandria, where a raccoon was stuck in a trash bin outside a commercial property. "It doesn't sound like it is rabid, but you don't know until you get there," he said.

In August, Cash had a close encounter with a rabid fox. The fox had attacked three girls in Herndon, and Cash was sent to the neighborhood the next day to track the animal. He said he found the fox and it was "very aggressive." When Cash tried to catch it, it bit him in the leg.

"We shot the animal and killed it, and it came back positive for the rabies virus," he said. "Luckily for me, I had the benefit of being pre-vaccinated. I did go in and get a booster shot as a precautionary thing, and I haven't sustained any problems from it at all."

Cash has no illusions about winning the war on rabies. "You can't control it," he said. "I think it is beneficial to know where it is, just so we are able to keep track of it. We are able, just by our caseload, to determine where we have more of a problem, in what particular areas."

The first rabid raccoon documented in Northern Virginia was in Loudoun County in 1981, according to Suzanne Jenkins, an epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health. That year, 48 raccoons tested positive. In 1982, 269 raccoons tested positive in Fairfax County and 267 in Loudoun. The disease spread because the raccoon population never had been exposed to it and had no natural immunity, Jenkins said. Since then, the disease has been a constant presence, but not in such high numbers.

"Where you have more humans, you are going to have more sightings of rabid animals and more are going to get tested," Jenkins said. "We certainly know that in suburban areas, the animals are very well fed with trash cans and pet food that is left outside, on porches or decks, and bird feeders, you name it. Their population is going to grow as much as resources allow it."

When Cash arrived at his call in Alexandria, the raccoon was gone. Cash said the number of rabies-related calls per shift varies. Some days he has none; others, he might have seven or eight. Spring and summer are the busiest times of the year for rabies calls.

"In my opinion," he said, "it is a big concern. I encounter it way too often for it not to be a problem."

Kathleen Hurley said she thinks about her son "every day, all day." To watch him slip away was painful, she said, and the pain is fresh and raw today.

"And of all things," his mother said, "his brain. That's what bothered me the most, that he was such a smart kid and had such potential."

Eddie Hurley had a degree in electrical engineering form the University of Virginia. He was working on his master's degree at Virginia Tech when he died. He was awarded that degree posthumously. He married his wife, Suzzette, in June 2001 and was buried on St. Patrick's Day, about two months short of their second anniversary. Hurley worked at Lockheed Martin. "He loved his work," his father said, "but he wasn't allowed to talk about it. He had a security clearance."

Before he lapsed into a coma, Hurley would look at his mother from his hospital bed and she could see the confusion in his eyes. Most of his life, Eddie Hurley could always figure things out -- but he
could not understand what had taken over his body.

"He would ask me, 'When do you think I will get out of here?' " his mother said. "He just wanted to go home. He asked me several times when I thought he'd get out of the hospital."

The Hurley family had one more encounter with rabies after Hurley's death. In the first week of January 2004, a memorial Mass was scheduled for Eddie Hurley. That morning, Kathy Hurley went out on the deck and noticed a dead raccoon under the boards. She called Animal Control and was told that officers would come to the house as soon as possible. A short time later, she walked out the back door and noticed a fox in the tree line behind their home. The fox was acting weird. She called Animal Control again. Officers were dispatched immediately.

The fox was killed by the officers. The raccoon and fox tested positive for rabies.

Kathy Hurley sat at the dining room table, holding her son's wedding picture in her hand. When she finished the story, she was quiet for a moment.

Her husband shook his head. "Not to find one rabid animal, but to find two," he said, "and to find them on the same day you are having a Mass."

For the Hurleys, it was an unnecessary reminder of how rabies has become a fixture in the suburbs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Purina Dog Food Ad with Raccoon Hunting Theme

Here's the kind of dog food ad you don't see anymore -- a Purina advertisement targetted to coon dogs.
In the picture, the raccoon is suspended on a wire trolley cage up a tree, and the dogs are taught to follow the raccoon and bay it up as it moves from one location to another. This is a training and trialing technique that is still used in the South.

For a history of dog food -- and where Purina fits within it -- see >> here

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Raining Foxes in June

Sailor peeks out of the first fox sette of the day -- a sette Mountain had bolted an adult fox out of about 10 minutes earlier.

It soared past 90 degrees in the shade on Sunday, but Beth and I hit the farms anyway, and with unexpected success.

The day started with a bit of frustration. We found an occupied groundhog sette very quickly and all the dogs were pinging, but despite three holes and a LOT of digging by the dogs, we never located the damn hog, and in the end we gave up and moved down the hedgerow.

Mountain had moved down the row ahead of us, and as we looked on from the other side of the field she bolted a fox out of a corner hedge. The fox was in a full-flight panic and going faster than I had ever seen a fox run.

We sauntered down to the presumed fox sette (moving fast seemed insane in the heat) and yep, there was the fox sette.

Sailor slid in and I took a quick picture (above) just as she was exiting. Beth and I had scoured this fence row in February and early March and it was blank -- this sette must have been dug in late March or April.

We turned down the connecting hedgerow and found several more fox settes -- big holes with kick out and fox scat on top.

At the third hole, there was a terrific stink due to the rotting carcass of a small dead possum -- I tossed it out into the corn field as the smell was enough to gag a mule, and the dogs slid into the holes looking for signs of life.

This den, on the edge of poison ivy, was occupied. Note the fox scat near the bottom center -- aways a good sign.

Sailor opened up in this pipe, and Moutain and Millie noodled around at the entrance and then explored a couple of holes down the hedgerow looking for action of their own.

We waited for Sailor to settle, and she did. It was a shallow den, but we had no idea what was inside and we did not want to open up the den too quickly in case there were fox kits inside. Sailor will ignore true babies, but will scrap with a young adult able to defend itself. Odds on, however this was a groundhog or an adult possum.

Sailor continued to bang away -- there was no telling what was going on underground but I never worry too much about Sailor. She's small but very smart.

I sprawled spread-eagle in the shade waiting for something to bolt while Beth listened to Sailor working. After a bit, it looked like Sailor was going to hold whatever it was where it was, so we decided to punch a hole in the sette and see if we could bust it up a bit.

The sette was only about two feet deep, and we hit the side of the pipe which was very wide and even wider when we scooped it out a bit more. Having made a pretty big door very close to the action, we pulled back from the hole to see what would happen.

About two minutes later, a nice adult vixen shot out of the hole and bounded off into the two-foot high corn. She looked like she had been rolled in the dirt. Sailor came out a few seconds later, with a bit of blood on her muzzle, and very tired. I looked her over, and she seemed to be without injury so the blood was either not hers or was from a self-inflicted tongue bite. I decided her wobbliness was due to heat stroke (I felt it too!) and carried her back to the vehicle.

We decided to hit the other side of the farm, across the road, and after bouncing down the edge of a corn field as far as we could, we staked Sailor in the shade with water and headed out with Millie and Mountain and Emma and Shelby.

The dogs were no more than 50 feet from the truck when they opened up under an enormous multi-flora rose. This bush was a virtual haystack, and we had to crawl on our hands and knees to get through it to the other side. This sette was on a creek bank, about four feet above the water, and it was a very clear groundhog sette.

I took the machete to the rose and after a bit we had enough space to work. We cut into the pipe -- it was not going to be deep -- and punched through in short order. Shelby was working up a storm. Imagine our surprise to see a fox face looking out!

We were pretty pumped -- two fox in June. Yahoo! Beth handed me the snare, but as I was fiddling with it, the fox pushed past the bar I had put in the pipe and it bolted out an exit -- a small adolescent fox, but a very nice piece of work from Shelby who had been pressing it hard and mixing it up a bit too.

We rested a bit (did I mention it was really hot?), and then I packed up the tools while Beth descended the bank and crossed the creek. I threw her the machete so she could hack her way through the undergrowth on the other side -- it was a jungle over there. Meanwhile, it sounded like the other dogs had already gotten into something. It was turning into a busy day!

I went down the hedgerow and crossed the creek at another location, but here too it was like a jungle. After hacking my way back through the brush, I manage to find Beth at a hole with Millie and Mountain hard on another fox. This too was a young fox, and the dogs were pulling it straight out of the den. I busted Mountain off it (she had been following me up to now), while Beth choked off Millie and I grabbed the fox very firmly around the throat so it could do no harm.

After the dogs were off the fox, I layed it in the shade near some thick weeds a good 20 feet away from the dogs (and out of sight of them). The fox began to beathe again and started to recover. It would take a while to catch its wind, but it did not appear to be injured in any way -- the bottom jaw was fine, and there were no cuts or punctures that I could see.

While I was making sure this third fox was all right for release, Millie went to ground in another sette. This one was under an enormous dome of multiflora about 20 feet away. Beth and I tucked into the shade underneath it in order to escape the heat.

We both listened as Millie worked this fox up, and I laid down flat on the ground to cool off. I could have gone to sleep in an instant.

After about twenty or thirty minutes of dead silence from us, Millie came out to see if we were still there and we grabbed her. Less than a minute later, the fourth fox of the day bolted off -- another young adolescent.

At this time of year young fox are starting to head out on their own, but they will lie up very near each other and the adults are often close by as well.

These 'teenage" fox can make it on their own, but they like the companionship and security of having their littermates nearby. A very hot day and a large number of groundhog dens in a small area resulted in our finding three young fox to ground and very close by each other.

With four fox under our belts -- and five bolts -- we decided to call it a day. We headed back to the truck, taking a small tour through a swampy bit of land covered in thick skunk cabbage.

Despite the heat -- and because of it -- it was a spectacular day in the field. To top it all off, I was back home in time to have a backyard barbecue with friends.

"No animals were harmed in the making of this movie."

Monday, June 13, 2005

20/20 Smear Job on the SPCA: Stossel Lies Again

ABC TV's news program "20/20" recently had a piece by correspondent John Stossel that suggested the SPCA was routinely and improperly seizing expensive pet dogs and selling them for profit as some sort of money-making operation.

Does that sound probable or likely to you? It didn't to me. Used dogs hardly have ready buyers, do they?

I had missed the ABC News TV show, but the transcript was easy to find, and you can read it yourself here >>

I began reading the transcript with some skepticism. John Stossel has a track record of hyper-ventilating about contrived crisis, and he has has even gone so far as to fake laboratory tests (see >> example here) Knowing that, I looked for "tells" to suggest that Stossel was cooking this story, as he has so many others.

The first tell was an absence of photos on the ABC web site. Where were the photos of the clean well-lighted kennels and healthy dogs and horses?

A close reading of the 20/20 transcript showed why there were no pictures: While Stossel was claiming all the animals he found looked "fine," he slipped in a few lines that suggested truth might be otherwise.

It turns out the first woman Stossel visited was a dog breeder with over 120 dogs. It also turned out this woman had not been involved with dogs for very long (her first dog was still alive). This sure sounded like a puppy mill to me!

The second person featured in the 20/20 piece owned a large number of dogs and had left them for four days without anyone in attendance.

The third person, owned more than two-dozen horses which were apparently in pretty bad shape, as he excused the condition of the animals and their quarters as due to his having fallen on hard times. What 20/20 did not show (but which is easily available from court records) is that the 70-acre farm was in disrepair, had little grass, had holes in the barn walls, and that the doors on the stalls had been chewed by starving horses. A veterinarian who examined the horses found half of them were emaciated, and another 25% in very bad condition. This horse owner has previously been convicted (criminal charges) of animal abuse to these same horses.

Am I missing something, or do these people sound exactly like the kind of people the SPCA should be visiting?

On a hunch, I went to the Texas SPCA web site and, funny enough, THEY had pictures of the locations and animals that John Stossel had visited and which he said were "perfectly fine".

Judge for yourself >>

Does this look like a perfectly fine way to raise animals? Not to me.

The lesson here is to believe nothing on its face, always be skeptical, and do your own research especially on highly loaded or emotional topics like hunting, animal rights, and animal welfare (if you do not know the difference between animal rights and animal welfare, try "Googling" these two terms as the beginning of your research).

The more emotional people are about a topic, the less rational they are, and the easier they are to manipulate. Republicans and Democrats, Big Business and the Far Left all hope you will be lazy and not do the reasearch because the lazy and ignorant are always easier to lead around by the nose.

As for Stossel, he is a pathetic journalist. Unable to find enough stories to fill his "Give Me a Break" slot on ABC TV, he has now resorted to "Give Us a Fake" reporting.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

New Italian Terrier Book Translated into English

I have not read this book myself, but it is said to focus exclusive
ly on working terrier breeds (Paterdale Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, Border Terrier, Deutsche Jagdterrier and Working Lakeland Terrier). Chapters deal with various aspects of field work, from the training of dogs for earth work to working boar, and with notes on first aid in the field. There is a section of interviews with terriermen.

The book is 224 pages long with 157 photographs and 15 illustrations. The foreword is by David Harcombe, editor of Earth Dog - Running Dog magazine.

Greg D. who has read the book, reports that it is a great read with a lot of good pictures and excellent interviews.

To order: Indigo Editor \ Via Case Palmerini, 8803020 \ Casamari (FR) \ email:

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Reprint of H. H. King's 1931 book on badger digging

This book was first published in 1931 and is now available again in a revised edition published by Read Country Books. This new edition incorporates the original format plus 20 extra pages containing articles and vintage photos on the same subject. The complete book is 130 pages long and "contains much detailed information on the working terrier and its use in what was once an acceptable and legal field sport."

The first chapter discusses the qualities and physical attributes of the working terrier, the second on early training of terriers with emphasis on the natural progression of their learning curve. A short chapter deals with the natural history and habits of the badger, then continues at some length with the methods and equipment used in the actual dig. The author points out that the terms “badger-digging” and “badger-baiting” should not be considered synonymous. In his opinion, “If properly conducted, badger-digging is no more cruel a sport than shooting or ratting” The final chapter is devoted to the care and handling of the Working Terrier. This edition of the book contatins two new additions -- a chapter on hunting badger by J.C. Bristow-Noble (author of Working Terriers) and “The Badger of Badgworthy". Both new chapters contain vintage photographs.

This new edition is available in both a quality pictorial soft cover format, and a numbered, limited edition hardback from Coch-Y-Bonddu and is published by Read Country Books (see EBay as well).

Working Terrier Book by J.C. Bristow-Noble

Working Terriers, Their Management, Training and Work, Etc. was written by J.C. Bristow-Nobles and published early in the 20th Century. It has now been republished in a high-quality soft-cover format by Read Country Books.

J.C. Bristow-Noble was well known in his time as a breeder of terriers who, after messing about with cross-bred Fox terriers and Sealyhams for a time, finally settled down with Jack Russell terriers.

Chapter One deals with "the correct type of working terrier", Chapter Two deals with ratting, Chapter Three with badger hunting, Chapter Four "on the use of terriers against otter, fox, stoat and rabbit", Chapter Five "on the use of terrier against moles." Chapter Six "on the care, choice and correct use of ferrets" and Chapter Seven on "some diseases and their treatment."

I do not own this book, but seriously question whether an entire chapter needs to be devoted to moles, while fox are rolled in with every other creature in God's Good Kingdom!

The book is 160 pages long with 29 black & white photographs "featuring rare scenes of terriers and terrier men in action."

Available from Coch-y-Bonddu Books, published by Read Country Books, and (as always) check ebay.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

German Ortovox Terrier Locator System


It turns out that using avalanche locators on working terriers is a bit "old hat" in Germany where the "Ortovox" transmitter (pictured above) has been used for some years and is available off-the-shelf and on the web if you know where to look (see "hundretter")

Ortovox Fox Dog Transitter and Receiver

"The Ortovox Earth Dog Transmitter is fastened on the dog's collar and sends a radio signal. The Orotvox Dog Receiver receives the signal. The shorter the distance between transmitter and receiver the louder the tone gets. With the rotary switch you can change the range and search area from 40m to 1m (43 yrds to 1 yard). Also, navigation is aided by three colored LED lights.

The compact Ortovox transmitter comes with a textile-collar into which the transmitter is tucked during earth work. Remeber, every minute counts should your dog get lost or stuck in the den of a fox or a burrow of a badger. With the D1 transmitter, a terrierman can safely and quickly locate his or her dog and rapidly dig it out. This way you spare your dog stress and unnecessary injury, and avoid possibly losing your precious companion. This light and robust transmitter is fastened at the dog's collar and it snuggles up close to the neck and therefore doesn't disturb the dog while it is working underground."

Click here >> To order from the German web site (The "box" used to pick up the Ortovox signal is pictured just below the collar).

Another place to order is >> here

The transmitter and box, combined, can be had for about 278 Euros or about $342 US. Please don't ask me about importing these things -- I'm sticking with my old Deben rigs for now.


Saturday, June 04, 2005

AKC: Wrecking More Dogs Than Terriers

The Cocker Spaniel was once a fine pocket-sized bird dog, but the show ring emphasis on exagerated coats has created a dog that cannot get through a hedgerow even if its life depended on it.

Mark Derr, the author of Dog's Best Friend: Annals of the Dog-Human Relationship wrote the following paragraphs in a March 1990 Atlantic Monthly article entitled "The Politics of Dogs":

The cocker spaniel, along with the poodle, the perennial favorite of American pet buyers, has not competed in field trials since 1965, having lots its ability to hunt. Elizabeth Spalding, a leading breeder of Cavalier King Charles spaniels, says, "Most people don't know it, but up until the 1970s a sentence in the cocker-spaniel standard stated that a dog could be penalized for excessive coat. But for twenty years cockers had been bred for long coats, which brought them championships." The long-haired little hunter has developed a reputation as a foul-tempered, possessive, and nervous creature.

In the 1950s show people turned the German shepherd into a weak-hipped animal with a foul temper and bizarre downward-sloping hindquarters. A few breeders are trying to restore the dog to its former dignity. The Monks of New Skete, a religious order in the Orthodox Catholic Church, near Cambridge, New York, have for twenty-two years worked to produce dogs without those problems. "We stopped using American dogs and turned to German ones, because breeding there is better controlled," says Brother John, a member of the order, which has a waiting list of more than a year for its dogs.

Many of the toy breeds are so small and fragile that they cannot live outside artificial environments. The bulldog and the Boston terrier have difficulty whelping naturally, because of the breeds' exaggeraged heads, and bitches are regularly subjected to cesarean sections. Hetherington says, "The bulldog is a man-made dog, and man has to be responsible for it. The dog hasn't come out perfectly, but that's reason to keep trying to improve the breed , not to abandon it."

The problem exists throughout the world. In Australia the kelpie, which is considered a rival to the border collie in the management of sheep, became the darling of the show ring in the 1930s and within three decades had nearly lost its herding instinct. In the 1960s the Working Kelpie Council of Australia began to rescue the breed, by establishing a registry for working stock. In the United States the Australian kelpie has been in the AKC's miscellaneous class since 1941, and Susan Thorp, the secretary of Working Kelpies, the American breed club, wants to keep it there. "In the AKC," she says, "the dog becomes an object. People get dogs, don't use them, and then selectively breed them for characteristics other than work."

Peter Borchelt, an animal behaviorist in Forest Hills, New York, says that springer spaniels, mostly the males, born of a particular show line frequently develop dominance-related behavioral problems that lead them to become aggressive toward their owners, while those from field stock don't manifest that tendency. Among labrador retrievers there are as many as three distinct varieties with different characteristics--show dogs, somewhat large and slow afoot; dogs adept at AKC field trials, smaller and more high-strung; and working dogs, varying in appearance but bred for their ability to swim and retrieve.

Among other AKC-recognized hunting breeds--including the German shorthaired pointer, the Chesapeake Bay retriever, the pointer, the Brittany, the Gordon setter, and the English setter--are dogs that can point, retrieve, or flush birds as well as any every have. People work hard to preserve those traits, and they don't intend to stop. (Many register their dogs not with the AKC but with American Field, an organization in Chicago devoted to field dogs.) But the trend among people who want breeds unspoiled by an overemphasis on appearance is toward animals the AKC doesn't deign to register, such as the Catahoula leopard dog, Australian and English shepherds, the beauceron, and European pointers (including the English).

The trend has not escaped the notice of the AKC. Kenneth Marden, the AKC's president, says, "We have gotten away from what dogs were originally bred for. In some cases we have paid so much attention to form that we have lost the use of the dog." Marden has supervised the establishment of herding tests, which are scheduled to begin this winter and are subject to a great deal of controversy among people with working stock dogs, who argue that AKC animals like the collie and the Old English sheep dog will prove unable to complete them. Marden has also expressed interest in terrier tests to measure the dogs' ability to flush game from underground dens, and in lure coursing for sight hounds and whippets.

He has publicly recognized the need to emphasize function as well as form, despite strong opposition from the AKC's powerful traditionalists, who argue that he is denigrating shows. They have nothing to fear. In some European countries dogs must excel both in the field and in the ring, and be judged physically sound, before they can become Champions. But an AKC dog can become a Champion in the show ring alone.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Tough American Women

Rocky Mountain News, June 1, 2005
Woman Fights Off Coyotes to Save Dog, by Tilly Fong

LAKEWOOD, COLORADO - A woman was bitten by a coyote Monday morning after she pried its jaws open to free her dog from the coyote's clutches at Belmar Park.

"All I could think about was getting my dog back, that 'my dog is not going to be your breakfast today,' " Bonny Jeffers, 48, an administrator with Denver Public Schools, said Tuesday.

"They were going to eat her. They were going to take her back to the den as food for their pups."
Jeffers was taken to St. Joseph Hospital on Monday and was treated and released for bites on her chin and a finger on her left hand.

Deuce, a 13-year-old female rat terrier that was attacked by one of the two coyotes, was recovering at a veterinary clinic Tuesday.

She has a punctured thorax and bruised lungs and has been put on oxygen as well as antibiotics. She is being fed intravenously.

"She's stable for now, so things are looking good," said Joni Edwards, medical director for the Veterinary Clinics of America Anderson on Tuesday.

The attack occurred about 8 a.m. Monday when Jeffers was walking two of her own dogs - Bella, a 2-year-old female Akita husky, and Pepe, a 6-year-old male Chihuahua - and Deuce, who belonged to her neighbor, Claudia Salvestrin, 37.

All three dogs were on retractable leashes with a range of 15 to 20 feet. Jeffers said Deuce is an older dog, and she lagged behind Jeffers, while the two other dogs ran in front of her.

As Jeffers approached the pavilion near the lake at Belmar Park, she turned a corner around a bush and a trash can and lost sight of Deuce momentarily.

That was when two coyotes attacked.

"I heard her (Deuce) go 'rrrowwrrr' and I turned and ran to see what was going on," said Jeffers.

"I saw two coyotes, 65 pounds each, and one had Deuce already in its mouth and (was) carrying her by the back."

Jeffers said she dropped the leashes on Bella and Pepe and ran after the coyote carrying Deuce.

"I caught up with the coyote, punched him in the face, trying to get my dog out," she said.

"I pried open the (coyote's) face and got his teeth on my finger. He dropped it and turned on me. He turned around and bit me on my chin," she said.

Even after the coyote bit her, all Jeffers could think of was getting help for Deuce, she said.

An older man who was taking a stroll around the lake with his wife came to Jeffers' aid, as well as a woman who lived across the street from the park, she said.

"She thought the coyote attacked me," Jeffers said.

"But the coyote was doing what it was supposed to be doing - which was trying to get prey for its pups, and I was doing what I was supposed to be doing."

While paramedics tended to Jeffers, two firefighters from Westminster Fire Station No. 7 rushed Deuce, with her owner, Salvestrin, to an animal emergency hospital.

Jeffers asked to be taken home.

Once there, she washed up, got her two boys, John Paul, 14, and Dexter, 18, and rushed off to check on Deuce.

"We stayed about three hours, and Claudia took me to the emergency room at St. Joseph's," she said.

"I did not know I had a bite on my left finger. I'm hurting today, but at the time, with the adrenaline going, you don't think about yourself."

Jeffers and Salvestrin moved Deuce on Tuesday morning to the VCA Anderson. They spent about $2,300 in emergency care for Deuce.

Animal control officers were looking for the coyotes that Jeffers encountered Monday but haven't located them.

There are warning signs about wildlife in the park, as coyotes are often seen in the area, according to Steve Davis, spokesman for Lakewood police. But until Monday, there had not been a case of a coyote biting a person.

"I could not recall ever that a coyote bit someone in the area," he said. "It's very, very rare, and even in this case, it's a little bit different. It was not an unprovoked attack."

Jeffers said she does not plan to return to Belmar Park with her dogs. "It's a beautiful park, but I'm not going there anymore," she said.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

U.S. Trapping Data

Top 10 U.S. Harvested Furbearers, 1998
Species and Total Number Harvested

  • Raccoon 2,896,089
  • Muskrat 2,183,201
  • Beaver 429,249
  • Nutria 398,037
  • Opossum 321,651
  • Mink 190,221
  • Red Fox 164,487
  • Coyote 159,043
  • Skunk 101,911
  • Gray Fox 76,666

Note: these numbers only represent trapping. For example, about 500,000 coyote a year are killed in the U.S., of which only 30% are trapped. Most of the raccoon are shipped overseas, where the fur is sheared and dyed and sold as a low-cost substitute for milk or sable. Most of the wild-caught red fox are used for trim as the pelts are rarely in as prime a shape as ranched fox. Most of the possum are by-catch; animal accidentally trapped when another species was sought (such as fox or raccoon). Ditto for skunk.