Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chihuahua Rescues Border Terrier From Cougar

The shame of it all as told by the Associated Press:

PHILOMATH, Ore. — A big cat picked the wrong little dogs for a fight.

Chiquita the Chihuahua chased off a cougar that had pinned Rosie the border terrier in this small Oregon town near the Oregon State University campus.

The dogs' owner, Loren Wingert, said Chiquita and Rosie are tough, but lucky.

The cougar pinned down Rosie, who squealed, but Chiquita persuaded the big cat to flee by barking ferociously.

Wingert lives in a cul-de-sac atop a hill that backs up to a wooded area with deer trails. Warning signs about cougars are posted on the trails.

Wingert said the dogs are fine.
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Pearl on the Beach


Pearl's first crab.


Pearl on the beach.










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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gone Fishing ...



I will be off the computer and in North Carolina for the next week.

I might be able to read an email, but there are no guarantees that I can respond or will respond, as cell phone connections on the Outer Banks may be dodgey, and it's hard to hold a cell phone in one hand and a fly rod in the other.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Kennel Club Couch Potato Club



I am rolling on the floor about this one. It seems a press release has been put out saying that Crufts is going to be sponsored by a company that sells half-priced sofas.

And here's the kicker -- it's TRUE.

A discount SOFA company is sponsoring Crufts!

Perfect!

The dog show circuit that was started by a shotgun maker looking to attract hunters by holding a competition for Pointers and Setters has now devolved to a couch company seeking to attract couch potato matrons and their pampered pooches who are led around on string leads.


DFS to be principle sponsor of Crufts 2010
21 May 2009 By Mary Clarke

Sofa retailer DFS has signed up as the principle sponsor of Crufts 2010. The Kennel Club, which runs the annual dog show, said the deal would make next year’s show better than ever.

DFS chairman Lord Kirkham said: "I am massively excited that DFS will be the principal sponsor of Crufts 2010. The event is part of the fabric of British life and it is always clear to see that dogs enjoy being in the limelight in the show ring, just as much as cuddling up with their owners on the sofa.

"We are proud to be involved in an event that is dedicated to ensuring that dogs have happy, healthy and comfortable lives."

Pedigree Chum was previously the principle sponsor for Crufts and had been involved with the show for 44 years before pulling out in October ahead of the March show.

While the Mars-owned pet food brand said its move away from Crufts was part of a refocusing of its priorities, the decision came in the wake of the controversy surrounding the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which took a critical view of pedigree breeding practices. Source


Note that in 2004 Lord Kirkham, said "If DFS was a dog, it would be a Crufts champion."

Translation: "We sell products that look good in the picture but they fall to pieces the moment you try and actually put them to use."

And yes, he really said that.

Queen Victoria's Rat Pits


A recycled post from blog, circa March, 2005.

Between 1800 and 1900, the population of Great Britain grew from 10 million to 35 million and advances in medicine, agriculture, animal husbandry and industry occured by leaps and bounds.

Despite great economic and social advances, the era was a time of squalor, deprivation, and grinding poverty for most people. The Enclosure Movement of the early 19th Century had forced huge numbers of people off of their lands and into the cities where they lived cheek-to-jowl and hand-to-mouth. Horse excrement littered the streets, water was pumped into homes untreated, and sewage systems were quickly pushed beyond capacity. The first large factories were started, and with them crushing boredom, inhumane work loads, and horrific industrial injuries.

Into this world arrived Rattus Norvegicus -- the brown rat. The rat pits required a certain type of rat -- the Brown Rat -- to do business. The Black Rat is simply too small and too docile to provide much sport, plus they tend to reside at rooftop, making them much harder to catch. It is not an accident that the Romans, who would fight any other two animals at the drop of a hat, did not have rats pits -- they were missing the required animal.

The Brown Rat arrived in Great Britain around 1730 and -- over the next 70 years -- quickly proliferated in the trash and garbage-strewn cities of England driving its cousin, the plague-carrying black rat, into extinction.

Bored and impoverished factory workers quickly found a good use for brown rats -- as contest combatants with small dogs. Thus was born the Rat Pit.

Rat pits were not actually pits, but instead were small built-up enclosures six to 12 feet in diameter, with wooden sides at elbow height, and with smooth metal walls to discourage the rats from climbing.

Into this pit were tipped various numbers of rats, depending on the size of the dogs and the rules of the contests. In general, dogs competed against each other by weight, with dogs being timed on how many rats they could kill in a set amount of time or -- conversely -- how much time it took them to kill a set number of rats.

Some contests featured rats placed inside overturned flower pots so that the dog had to knock over the flower pot, release the rat, and then run around inside the ring to catch the rat -- amidst all the other flower pots also containing rats ready to be released if that pot were knocked over in the commotion.

The rat pit era did not last long and, contrary to what is sometime asserted, no breed of dog was specifically bred for this sport. Because the rules varied so much from pit to pit and from contest to contest, it was impossible to breed a dog that could develop much of a competitive edge.

Speed was important, of course, but so too was the weight of the dog and the degree to which it could take punishment. Square pits were very easy for a dog to work as the rats would jungle up in a corner and the dog could pick them off the back -- here only speed mattered. Round pits defeated this tactic, however, and if a dog were required to work 30 to 50 loose rats in a round enclosure, it would likely take some bites around the ears.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal was founded in 1825. They found rat pits an easy thing to oppose as they were organized, drew publicity, and had a less-than-politically-powerful clientel. It did not hurt at all that many rat pits were associated with bars. Never mind that children were being jungled off into work houses, mothers were starving, and factories were lopping off the fingers of their workers -- save the rats!

By 1835, rat pits had been outlawed in Great Britain -- along with the fighting of any other animal whether wild of domestic. The era of legal rat pits had lasted not much longer than 50 years -- and within another 40 years or so, even the illegal rat pits would be gone.
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How to Kill Creativity and the Cost of Doing That


Ken Robinson on education. Listen to the very end.
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Got a Bulldog ... or Beer ... or Both?



Cast Iron Bulldog Bottle Opener from Rejuvenation. Finally, they found a use for brachycephalicism!

Danish Earthdog Setup



The above picture is of a Danish den dog trial set up. Similar setups are done in Ukraine, Sweden, Germany, Finland, and several other countries, but with somewhat different designs from location to location.

In this design, there is an incline in one section in the middle and a spot where the dog is in a pit below the quarry. To get to the quarry at that location, the dog has to leap up 60 cm on to the ledge next to the drum or "kessel" (pot). This section can be closed off for a simple trial.

The drum on the far right is rotated so that the "quarry" (a live fox or badger) can escape out a side door and run from down the tunnel to another drum (not shown) which is then rotated half way to put bars between the dog and the game.

The fox and badger are very relaxed about the whole thing (they've been doing it their whole lives and are lept as pets) and the dogs get to run around a bit and see if they have voice and whether they will stick to the job even in in non-contact situation. There is no digging and no actual contact between the dog and the fox or badger.

The den pipes are generally too big with these things to suit my taste (9" by 9" is common) and so bigger dogs are able to act as if they have the stuff even when some of them could not get down a real pipe.

That said, this is fun sport for folks without the desire or without the physical ability to take their dogs into the field to do real hunting.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Coffee and Provocation



  • Thank God for Hang Fire:
    4The bad news is that American bullets are being used against us by the Taliban.
    4The good news is that those bullets have a very high rate of hang fire due to the fact that they are 50-year old Chinese munitions, repackaged in Albania and sold to the U.S. military by a 21-year old kid in Miami for $298 million. Thanks Dick Cheney! Thanks George W. Bush! Thanks Don Rumsfeld!


  • Paranoids for Conservation!
    Gun nuts, survivalists and paranoids are hoovering up guns, and taxes on those gun purchases are helping to fund wildlife land conservation. During the last quarter of 2008, the Treasury collected $27.6 million from sales of pistols and revolvers, $35.0 million for long guns (rifles and shotguns) and $35.5 million for ammunition. Compared to the same quarter in 2007, collections were up 70.1 percent for handguns, 11.4 percent for long guns and 31.1 percent for ammunition.


  • Screw Civil Liberties and Pass the Ammunition!
    Remember the right wing militias? Glenn Greenwald does. Over on Salon, he writes:
    "Bill Clinton's election in 1992 gave rise to the American 'militia movement': hordes of overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men from suburban and rural areas who convinced themselves they were defending the American way of life from the 'liberals' and 'leftists' running the country by dressing up in military costumes on weekends, wobbling around together with guns, and play-acting the role of patriot-warriors. . . . What was most remarkable about this allegedly 'anti-government' movement was that -- with some isolated and principled exceptions -- it completely vanished upon the election of Republican George Bush, and it stayed invisible even as Bush presided over the most extreme and invasive expansion of federal government power in memory. Even as Bush seized and used all of the powers which that movement claimed in the 1990s to find so tyrannical and unconstitutional -- limitless, unchecked surveillance activities, detention powers with no oversight, expanding federal police powers, secret prison camps, even massively exploding and debt-financed domestic spending -- they meekly submitted to all of it, even enthusiastically cheered it all on. " ... Read the whole thing.


  • Tastes Like Chicken I:
    Heather Houlahan over at Raised by Wolves has a great piece on hybrids and heterosis that is well worth the read, especially if you are a dog owner or a chicken eater. And while you are cruising the family tree of her chickens, click on the picture of the Sebright rooster at the bottom of yesterday's post about John Henry Walsh. What a pretty bird, eh? Strictly ornamental, but a nice addition to a small flock anyway.


  • Tastes Like Chicken II:
    A French fossil expert says he think he know
    what happened to all those Neanderthals that once roamed the earth: We ate them! Fernando Rozzi, of Paris's Centre National de la R├ęcherche Scientifique writes in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences that his analysis of Neanderthal remains shows that they were butchered by modern humans and that we used their teeth used to make necklaces.

  • 177 Million Cars Off the Road:
    On May 19, President Barack Obama unveiled new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. In the future, car and trucks are going to have to get better gas mileage. Right now the standard is 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 24 mpg for light trucks.
    Starting in 2012, fuel efficiency will rise more than 5 percent each year. New standards for 2016: 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks. This little change is the energy equivalent of taking 177 million of today’s cars off the road.

  • PETA Time!
    Michael Vick is getting out of jail. No word yet on when he does his PETA commercial. Dog killers of the world unite!

  • There's More to Living Than Longevity:
    That said, how long animals live is a matter of small interest, and the numbers are often quite surprising.


  • Words from the Wise:
    My father was recently writing aphorisms for the grandkids, but Frank Warren, the fellow behind the Post Secret blog, figured out the lazy way to do it. In order to prepare his commencement address for St. Mary’s College in Maryland, he asked members of the graduating class to write a one-sentence response to the question “What do my classmates, and I, need to hear on Graduation Day?” Here are a few of the answers that came in over the transom. 1: Be wise enough not to be reckless, but brave enough to take great risks. 2: It’s okay to fail – learn from it and you will succeed. 3: It’s better to be pissed-off than pissed-on. 4: Wash your hands religiously. 5: In the real world, you must wear shoes.


  • Noodling from Two Sides of the Same Planet:
    Catfish noodling in America and Rock Python noodling in Cameroon.


  • Only Domestic, Please:
    Foreign porn banned from Egypt


  • Protecting Heritage and History:
    James Marchington notes that Arab falconers are making a submission to have falconry recognised by UNESCO as an 'Intangible Cultural Heritage' and wonders whether shooting is missing a trick? Shooting? That's a good deal more legal and less culturally unique to the U.K. than terrier work. But don't blame me if the British still don't get it -- I once tried to elevate working terriers as an Icon of England.

  • Have You Ever Seen . . . ?
    A Congregation of Alligators, a Shrewdness of Apes, a Sleuth of Bears, an Obstinacy of Buffalo, an Exaltation of Larks, a Flutter of Butterflies, a Murder of Crows, a Wake of Buzzards, a Clowder of Cats, an Army of Caterpillars, a Peep of Chickens, an Intrusion of Cockroaches, a Convocation of Eagles, a Mob of Emus a Business of Ferrets, a Leash of Foxes, an Unkindness of Ravens, a Crash of Rhinoceroses, a Wreck of Seabirds, a Prickle of Porcupines, a Pride of Lions, a Leap of Leopards, a Lounge of Lizards, or a Cackle of Hyenas? No? Me either.


Barack and Bo, May 12, South Lawn. Click for bigger.

Come to Somalia: Libertarian Paradise!


Government-free since 1991!
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Stonehenge: The Root of the Inbreeding Problem


If you tease through history books looking for the roots of the Kennel Club, you eventually come to The Field magazine, and John Henry Walsh.

The Field was founded in London 1853, and its target audience was "those who loved shooting, fishing, hunting and could sniff out a decent claret at 1,000 paces."

In short, The Field has never been a pure hunting magazine; it's always been about social status as well. Articles include not only gun reviews, but also tips on how to select a good butler, and suggestions on where you can get the best catered lunch served to you on a linen tablecloth while shooting big game in African. Though The Field is the oldest country sports publication in the world, its circulation remains a paltry 30,000.

It's no surprise to learn that a publication written for pedigree people was one of the driving forces behind the creation of pedigree dog shows. In fact, The Field can properly be described as the birth place of The Kennel Club, and one of its early editors -- a former surgeon by the name of John Henry Walsh -- can fairly be called its midwife.

Walsh put himself out as an expert on nearly everything from home economics to cooking recipes, from brewing beer and playing croquet to shoeing horses, and from building and firing guns, to breeding and judging dogs.

The All-England Croquet Club, from The Illustrated London News,
July 1870. In the foreground: Miss Walsh, Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Walsh


Often writing under the pen name "Stonehenge," Walsh took charge of The Field as the first Information Age was exploding under the advent of low-cost paper made from wood pulp and movable metal type.

By diving into older texts, and compiling, rewording, and adding a little bit of new information, Walsh was able to liberate a great deal of basic knowledge and disseminate it out to an eager public.

Consider some of the publications Walsh wrote or edited between 1849 and 1884:


  • The Provincial Medical and Surgical Journal (edited 1849–52)


  • The Greyhound, on the Art of Breeding, Rearing, and Training Greyhounds for Public Running, their Diseases and Treatment (1853)


  • Manual of British Rural Sports (1856)


  • A Manual of Domestic Medicine and Surgery (1858)


  • The English Cookery Book (edited, 1858)


  • The Shot-Gun and Sporting Rifle (1859)


  • The Dog in Health and Disease (1859)


  • The Horse in the Stable and in the Field (1861)


  • The Shot-gun and Sporting Rifle: And the Dogs, Ponies, Ferrets Used (1862)


  • Riding and Driving (1863)


  • Archery, Fencing, and Broadsword (edited, 1863)


  • Athletic Sports and Manly Exercises (edited, 1864)


  • Pedestrianism, Health and General Training (1866)


  • Dogs of the British Isles (1867)


  • A Table of Calculations for use with the Field Force Gauge for Testing Shot Guns (1882)


  • The Modern Sportsman's Gun and Rifle (1882-84 in two volumes)


Walsh had a burning passion for horses, dogs, guns, and all things outdoors, and it did not hurt at all that he had been trained as a surgeon as this meant he had an appreciation for the scientific method, and could talk with some expertise about physiological problems common to humans, dogs, and horses.

Walsh's publication on the Greyhound was one of the first breed-specific publications ever produced, and Walsh was also a judge at the first real dog show, held in Newscastle-on-Tyne, in 1859. Ironically, there were no Greyhounds at this dog show: just 60 Pointers and Setters, with one class for each breed.

The same year that the first formal dog show was held (sponsored by two shotgun vendors it should be said), Walsh produced one of the first "all breed" books on dogs -- a publication which lifted much of its information from earlier authors who, in turn, freely plagiarized from even earlier authors.

As a result of copying from so many older texts, Walsh's 1859 publication contains solid fact which nests cheek-to-jowl with vague descriptions, absurd assertions, obvious truths, glaring omissions, and confusing verbiage.

It should be noted that Walsh's 1859 book and the first formal dog show coincide with the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. This is not a complete accident.

As noted in Inbred Thinking, both Darwin's work and the first dogs shows sprang quite organically from the work of Robert Bakewell and the stock shows he promulgated in the last half of the 18th Century.

The grass over Bakewell's grave had not yet grown over before farmers with a flinty eye on the steak-and-eggs axis of production, began to raise questions.

Among the first was John Saunders Sebright.

Sebright was a chicken producer and a falconry enthusiast who also wrote one of the first books on animal husbandry, entitled, The Art of Improving the Breeds of Domestic Animals.

First published in 1809, Sebright's book argued that the inbreeding and line breeding of animals, which had been so necessary to create breeds, could actually destroy them if continued for too long.

Sebright, of course, was right, and it was not long before progressive farmers began quoting Sebright at every turn as an explanation for declining fecundity and productivity in flocks and herds.

It should be said that Sebright was not some minor figure in his day. Darwin himself quotes Sebright repeatedly in his correspondence and books, and Sebright's ideas on the dangers of inbreeding were frequently cited in American farming periodicals as early as 1825.

Sebright's warnings were also picked up by those trying to tease out an explanation for the decline of Europe's aristocracy. In an 1838 publication entitled: Intermarriage: or the Mode in Which and the Causes Why Beauty, Health and Intelligence Result from Certain Unions, and Deformity, Disease and Insanity From Others," Alexander Walker not only quotes Sebright while framing the eugenics debate to come, he pecifically notes the parallels between the breeding of farm stock, dogs, and humans.

In one paragraph, he quotes Delabere Blaine, who wrote the first serious veterinary text on dogs:



That is as true today as it was then!

Walsh, of course, had read Blaine and Sebright. He quotes each of them once, and parrots their conclusions on a number of matters.

That said, Walsh's work is so slap-dash and hedging that it is often hard to tease out a straight sentence. As a result, when the reader does find a declarative sentence or two, they tend to leap out and perhaps be overemphasized beyond what the author intended.

Such may be the case on page 175 of The Dog, in Health and Disease, in which Walsh clearly sets out a series of "principles of breeding," one of which is rather boldly stated:

Breeding in-and-in is not injurious to the dog, as may be proved both from theory and practice ; indeed it appears, on the contrary, to be very advantageous in many well-marked instances of the greyhound, which have of late years appeared in public.


Now there's a declarative sentence! "Breeding in-and-in (i.e. inbreeding) is not injurious to the dog!

And yet, on page 188, just 13 pages later, Walsh writes:

The questions relating to in-and-in breeding and crossing are of the greatest importance, each plan being strongly advocated by some people and by others as strenuously opposed. Like many other practices essentially good, in-breeding has been grossly abused; owners of a good kennel having become bigoted to their own strain, and, from keeping to it exclusively, having at length reduced their dogs to a state of idiocy and delicacy of constitution which has rendered them quite useless. Thus I have seen in the course of twenty years a most valuable breed of pointers, by a persistence in avoiding any cross, become so full of excitability that they were perpetually at "a false point," and backing one another at the same time without game near them, and, what is worse, they could not be stirred from their position.


Eh? What the hell is Walsh prattling on about now? If inbreeding is not injurious to the dog, then why is any corrective breeding action needed?

You mean inbreeding can wreck the working ability of a dog? Eh?

What happened to that nice unambiguous sentence about inbreeding not being injurious?

And what's with all this nonsense about "once in and twice out?" What evidence does Walsh have that this is a "cure" for the problem which, just 13 pages earlier, he had denied even existed?

No answer is forthcoming, I am afraid.



The good news is that we no long live in the age of schooners and candles, and we can put Walsh's breeding theories to the test by simply looking at modern data for the Greyhound, one of the oldest breeds on earth, and the type of dog which Walsh himself knew best and cited as his "proof" that inbreeding does no harm.

Are today's Kennel Club Geryhounds deeply inbred?

No. In fact they are not. A recent Imperial College study of 10 Kennel Club breeds found Greyhounds had the lowest Coefficient of Inbreeding among the breeds studied -- and this despite the relatively small number of Greyhounds on the Kennel Club's roles.

We find extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the Greyhound, and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but two breeds. For all but three breeds, more than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of reeding patterns on genetic diversity.


OK, but that's Kennel Club Greyhounds.

Surely a great deal of inbreeding is occurring at the race tracks where speed is everything, and ethics must take a back seat to cash bets placed on performance animals?

In fact, if we look at racing Greyhounds we find a meticulous tracking of of Coefficients of Inbreeding (COI).

And why?

Simple: Because the higher the COI on a racing Greyhound, the less likely it is to be a winner.

Most racing Greyhounds have very low COIs, same as most racing horses.

In fact, with both racing dogs and racing horses, Coefficients of Inbeeding are tracked with precision and turn up on racing indexes where high numbers are treated as a bad sign. As one horse racing index notes:

[The Coefficient of Inbreeding] can generally be ignored unless you see a number over 5.00%. In that case, there's almost too much inbreeding in the horse's pedigree. A number over 10% indicates too much inbreeding and generally such horses don't do well at the track.



Of course, this is not the kind of information that John Henry Walsh was sharing with his readers, was it?

No. And why not?

Well, for one thing, Sewall Wright's Coefficient of Inbreeding calculation had not yet been developed.

Nor had the era of dog shows and closed registries begun. Yes, some people like Blaine and Sebright urged caution when it came to inbreeding animals, but aren't naysayers always with us? Progress always demands that we ignore the naysayers!

And then, of course, there was the matter of class and commerce.

John Henry Walsh could see there was a ready market for books about dogs, and the more breeds there were, the more words that could be written, and the more books that could be sold.

This is the same intellectual engine that drives the Kennel Club train to this day. The Kennel Club has shattered every type of dog into scores of breeds not because the dogs do different work, but because with every breed comes more ribbons and more people to chase those ribbons.

The business of the Kennel Club is not dogs you see, it is ribbon chasing, and it is not the dog that is interested in the ribbon, but the owner.

Of course, John Henry Walsh and The Field magazine meant no harm. They were simply trying to make a little money and gain a little social position by catering to a growing public interested in field sports and dogs.

And, as far as I can tell, though Walsh was clearly one of the hands pushing the business of dog shows forward, he also had real questions about the idea and nature of canine registries, even as he took the Kennel Club's money and acted as their publisher.

More about that in a later post. Suffice it to say that closed registries did not begin in 1859!

A Sebright Rooster
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An Automatic Dog Washing Machine



A Frenchman has come up with an automatic dog washing machine.

All I can say is "good luck to gettting my dogs in there the second time!"

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Facebook for Dogs

Related Post: I Don't Do Facebook
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Kennel Club Memories of Working Jack Russells

From: The Kennel Club: a History and Record of Its Work‎ (1905) by Edward William Jaquet (PDF, 476 pages):


In addition to the [15 Member Kennel Club] Committee, the general list of [100 Kennel Club] members at this time contained many names which have become household words in connection with dog breeding.

One of the first of these was the Rev. John Russell, of Barnstaple, the sporting parson better known as " Jack " Russell. Mr. Russell joined the Club in 1873, and remained a member until his decease in 1883. At the time of his death he was considered the oldest Fox Terrier breeder in England. He started his strain (the "Jack Russell Terrier") at Oxford, when he was eighteen, and more than fifty years afterwards had pedigrees that he could trace from the time he began to breed them. Mr. Russell's terriers in working condition did not scale more than 15lbs., some even less, and between forty and fifty years ago they formed a very distinct type. He judged Fox Terriers at the Kennel Club Show at the Crystal Palace in June, 1874.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

John Russell's Bagged Fox

From Alys Serrell's 1904 book, With Hound and Terrier in the Field , we learn that the famous Rev. John Russell was not above using bagged foxes.

That makes me feel a bit better about my own efforts, on foot, to locate a fox to ground (and without hounds!) on a cold winters day with the wind howling down around my ears.

How much easier terrier work must be if you are, in essence, engaging in a canned hunt -- and probably with paid diggers too!

It was through his friend Mr Yeatman that my father made the acquaintance of the Rev. John Russell, of Devonshire fame, another choice spirit of the clerical circle whose interests were not bounded by their parochial duties. My father was staying at Stock House when he heard his host lamenting that, owing to his hunting establishment being very short of hands, he did not know how to get some hounds to the Rev. Jack Russell, which he had promised by a certain day.


Being young and always eager where hounds were in question, my father volunteered to take the draft to Iddesleigh, in Devonshire, and to deliver them within the time specified. This meant a long and weary journey by road. But, nothing daunted, my father was off at daybreak with a large piece of cheese in his pocket, with which he coaxed the hounds along till they grew accustomed to him, and he accomplished the odd eighty miles on horseback in the stipulated time.

This was the sort of thing to appeal to Mr Russell. He was very pleased, and gave my father the warmest of welcomes. That night as the two men were sitting at dinner my father expressed his regret that the next day was not one of Mr Russell's hunting days, as he had to go off early in the morning of the day after to enable him to keep his term at Oxford. He expressed so much disappointment at not seeing the famous hounds in the field, that at last Mr Russell exclaimed, " Look here, my boy, you shall see them, if you don't mind turning out at day-break. There is a fox shut up in the saddleroom that was brought me to-day, and we will see if we can't dust his jacket for him." It was in the early spring, and a move was made to the stables the following morning before it was light. The men being roused, the horses were soon saddled, and all was ready for departure. The kennel lad was sent off on a rough pony with the fox in a bag, which he was ordered to let out at a certain spot, and then hounds were unkennelled and they started in pursuit. A glorious spin over a fine wild country followed, at the end of which the fox made good his escape, and the two sportsmen returned home in good time, as hounds had to Innit the next day. From that time Mr Russell and my father often met, both in Devon and in Dorset.

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Anticipation


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FDA Wants to Classify Cheerios as a Drug

The FDA has sent a warning letter to General Mills saying that unless they remove the unproven health claims made on boxes of Cheerios, they may force the cereal company to reclassify its product as a drug.

No, I am not making this up.

Now the only real question is whether the FDA is going to get Mocked to Death on Capitol Hill.

How can an agency which does so little on so much, claim it has time for this nonsense?
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All at Sea at the AKC



AKC registrations have declined 55% in 15 years.

What happened? Nothing.

And that’s the problem


Following the showing of
Pedigree Dogs Exposed on the BBC, the Kennel Club has had to face one basic question: Can it survive into the 21st Century by hanging on to 19th century theories and show ring exaggerations that are antithetical to canine health?

“Don’t rock the boat too much,” some have advised. “Look what happened in America when they tried to change things -- AKC registrations dropped like a rock.”

Well yes, it’s true that American Kennel Club registrations have plummeted. Over the course of the last 15 years, registrations have declined 55 percent, even as the number of dogs in American homes has increased.

But why the decline? It’s not because the AKC did not change, but because it didn’t!

Here’s the story: In 1987, a reporter for Parade, the largest circulation magazine in the country, did an expose on the fact that a lot of the dogs registered by the American Kennel Club were deformed, diseased, and defective. The reporter pointedly asked AKC President William F. Stifel whether the Club would register a blind, deaf, three-legged purebred pup with hip dysplasia and green fur. The answer: "We would register the dog. AKC, unfortunately, does not mean quality."

The American public heard that message loud and clear, and they soon began voting with their wallets. The movement away from AKC dogs had begun.

The decline started slowly, but was kicked forward in December of 1994, when Time magazine did a cover story entitled “A Terrible Beauty.” The subtitle summed up the contents: “An obsessive focus on show-ring looks is crippling, sometimes fatally, America's purebred dogs.”

The AKC, of course, tried to fend off its critics. "We’re just a registry” they explained. If there were problems with the dogs, those complaints should be directed to the breed clubs.

But the breed clubs have very little power within the American Kennel Club's structure. They are not able to mandate health checks because the AKC will not allow it, nor can they require performance standards for a championship, nor can they ban pet store sales.

In addition, breed clubs are dominated by established show dog breeders whose personal interest lies more with blue ribbons and commerce than in long-term considerations about breed health. There are some problems in some lines, these breeders will tell you, but never in theirs!

Ironically, the Kennel Club's "just a registry" defense sounded a lot like a business plan to small-time entrepreneurs. Armed with the newest bit of technology – the personal computer— more than 30 different dog registries sprang up offering scraps of paper with no health guarantee at all.

But wasn’t this exactly what the AKC had been selling all these years? The only difference was these new registries were selling their paper for less!

The pageantry of dog shows were not attached to these new registries, of course, but so what? Most people were not buying dogs to show them; they were simply looking for healthy canine companions and pets. Since American Kennel Club dogs were not healthier than non-AKC dogs, what did it matter if a dog was AKC-registered or not?

In fact, maybe it was better if they wasn’t! The dogs from the local pound were certainly cheaper than a Kennel Club dog, and even the veterinarians said they were generally healthier.

Look at all the inbreeding going on in the Kennel Club. And if you wanted a working dog, you had to go to a registry lke “American Field” or a specialty breeder for that.

And so, over the course of just 15 years, the market for American Kennel Club dogs collapsed.

And what has been the AKC’s reponse?

They have been completely flumoxed. Every suggestion has been met by an indignant non-sensical reply.

How about jettisoning breed standards steeped in exageration and deformity? But exaggerations and deformities define so many breeds!

How about requiring heath testing for breeding stock? But the AKC has never had health standards before!

How about mandating lower Coefficients of Inbreeding? Why? What's wrong with inbreeding?

How about opening closed registries in order to broaden gene pools? But then the dogs wouldn't be pure breeds -- they’d be mutts!

And so, left to its own devices, what has the American Kennel Club come up with for a new economic model?

Believe it or not, it’s the registration of more puppy mill dogs bred like chickens in battery cages!

As AKC Chairman Ron Menaker wrote in a September 2008 missive to the delegates:

“Today, we are losing market share at an alarming rate, especially in the retail sector… Make no mistake, the very future of the AKC and our sport is at risk.... We can all remember some of the premier ‘name brands’ and companies of the past, leaders in their field. The ones that we thought would be around forever. These giants, these household names, held the same standing as the AKC. Companies such as: Westinghouse, Pan American Airlines, Standard Oil Company, EF Hutton, Woolworth’s, Montgomery Ward, just to name a few. …. AKC used to dominate the marketplace. Even [department stores] like Macy’s and Gimbels sold AKC puppies. Many pet owners who bought these puppies, and I was one of them, tried their hand at showing and breeding. These owners who purchased their first purebred from a retail outlet, not only added to AKC’s registrations, but those who wanted to advance in the sport, then sought out fanciers to continue their journey. . . . If the current trend continues and dog registrations decline to 250,000 over the next several years, AKC will face an annual revenue shortfall of $40 million.”


And so, the American Kennel Club has decided to bank their hope on the mass-production of puppy mill dogs, while holding tight to the proven failure of 19th Century breeding practices which have wrecked the health and working ability of breed after breed.

But, of course, there’s more to it than that.

You see, while the American Kennel Club has shown no real interest in changing its system of exaggerated standards and closed gene pools, it has made peace with the idea of collecting kickback referal money from veterinarians and pet insurance salesmen

“Sure, we’ll sell you poison,” they seem to be saying, “but we’ll sell you the antidote as well.”

Of course, the American people are not buying it. American Kennel Club registrations continue to slide into the toilet, and things have not been helped by the Internet, which has made it harder to sustain lies about quality and history.

Not only can owners of wrecked Kennel Club dogs now find each other with ease, but they can also post videos and educate others about the troubles they face. Breed specific list-servs and health sites now summarize academic research, health surveys, and data gleaned from pet insurance databases.

And, of course, anyone in America with a computer can now see Pedigree Dogs Exposed, while anyone in Great Britain with an internet connection can see ABC’s recent Nightline program, which told much the same story.

All of this, paradoxically, is good news for the dogs and for the U.K. Kennel Club.

It is good new for the dogs because, finally, it appears that some change may be at hand which will improve the miserable health of pedigree dogs.

And it is good news for The Kennel Club because, if they need any spur to reform, they need only look across the pond to see the high price for failing to change at all.


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Too Close to True


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Dog Food for Deformed Dogs



How twisted are dogs today? It truly boggles the mind.

Consider this: Dog food companies now make dog food for deformed dogs!

No, this is not a joke. As the Royal Canin dog food company notes:

Royal Canin Pug 25 is specially designed for the breed’s brachycephalic
face, which means he finds it very difficult to pick up a flat kibble.

Instead, a cloverleaf shaped kibble is easy to pick up, with a texture which makes the dog want to crunch, providing mechanical brushing for the teeth and helping to slow down the build up of dental plaque.... The shortness of the Pug’s muzzle and fineness of coat clearly shows off the folds around his face, but this area can retain humidity and therefore encourage irritation. Pug 25 contains a patented complex of four B vitamins and an amino acid to help support the barrier function of the skin .....

Regular, gentle exercise and avoiding strong heat and intense effort are important for the Pug – maintaining muscle tone is essential, but the shortness of his nasal passages makes him prone to breathlessness. Pug 25 is based on ultradigestible (over 90%) proteins and a combination of fibres to help stimulate digestive transit and protect intestinal flora....


Think this is the only one? Think again! There's a similar food for brachycephalic cats, like Persians, which have been so wrecked by show fanciers they too have a hard time eating. As Royal Canin notes:

The Persian is known for its long, beautiful coat and brachycephalic (flat) face. Cats with flat facial characteristics use the lower side of their tongue to pick up kibbles – which is why an almond shape kibble is easier for them to eat. Additionally, the average total length of the hair on a Persian cat is 30 miles, making skin and coat health, along with hairball management, a top priority.


Right.

So let me say it simply: If a dog or cat cannot eat on its own, we need to stop breeding it and go straight to euthenasia.

We need to start a national inquiry into how and who allowed this thing to happen on a scale so large that we now have companies selling pet food for deformed and defective dogs and cats.

And we need to hit in the head with a brick anyone who defends positively selecting dogs and cats for deformities such as brachycephalicism and achondroplasia.

Enough is enough.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

FREE Books, Books, Books



In the sidebar to this blog, I've loaded up links to a number of old books which are now available, online, as either PDFs, flip books or text. In most case, the link will take you to examples of all three versions.

Book are arranged, rather roughly by type, and chronologically within type. If a book is out of chronological order, it means that the print version is a later print version of an earlier text.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Kennel Club Stud Book - 1884



In an effort to recover lost memory, I have put up a PDF copy of the 1884 Calendar and Stud Book of The Kennel Club (U.K) (330 pages).

For those paying careful attention, note that on the front page it says the Kennel Club Calendar and Stud Book were published at 346 Strand, the "Field" office.

This is a reference to "Field" magazine, whose editor, John Henry Walsh, was also a judge at the first dog show held in 1859.

John Henry Walsh wrote under the name "Stonehenge," and was also the person who came up with the Kennel Club's point system.

How much did Walsh know about dogs? I will let others judge that themselves when I put up a link to his 1859 book on dogs and dog breeding.
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Coffee and Provocation

Brain Dead in Michigan:
The auto industry is not the only thing dying in Michigan. It turns out that the great brains in that state
plan to kill 10,000 cormorants so they will not compete with anglers for fish.

More Stuff Named After Steven Colbert:
Scientists have named a newly discovered species of beetle, Agaporomorphus colberti, in honor of comedian Stephen Colbert. He already has an eagle, a falcon and a NASA treadmill named after him.

Desert Whales:
Stone masons cutting Egyptian limestone in Italy discovered that the kitchen counter tops they were working on contained a 40-million year old fossilized whale skull.

A Slogan for the Modern Newspaper Industry:
This needs to be a T-Shirt: "Save our newspapers: Because it’s hard to raise puppies without them".



Saturday, May 09, 2009

Tales of Terriers Too Big

I have been doing a LOT of reading of old books and have come away with one general observation: Mounted fox hunting does not have much to do with terrier work!

A 50-year history of the Grafton Hunt (published in 1900) mentions a terrier only once, and just in passing!

So what is this book about? People long dead that no one cared about even when they were alive!

A close reading of dozens of other books on mounted fox hunting finds little mention of either terriers or hounds and, as a group, they can all be flushed with few exceptions. I will talk about the exceptions in later posts.

For now, let me mention one book, written in 1826, and entitled "Observations on Fox-hunting and the Management of Hounds in the Kennel and the Field, Addressed to Young Sportsman, about to Undertake a Hunting Establishment." Here we find two short tales of terriers.

With regard to the use of Terriers in the field; — they are no doubt sometimes of service, particularly when Foxes use drains, but if they are not perfectly steady, they will do a great deal of mischief. They should invariably be entered with the young hounds, and always be kept in the kennel.

As a matter of curiosity, I here give you an instance or two of the extraordinary length of time terriers will exist without food; one occurred the other day. I was staying at a friend's house in Hertfordshire, who had lost a favourite terrier seven days: on going out to look at his sporting dogs near the house, he thought he heard the voice of his lost dog. He recollected the last time it was seen was near the mouth of a drain, upwards of two hundred yards from the spot from whence the sound came. He immediately ordered his workmen to open the drain, and they found the terrier jammed in a narrow part of it ; the animal appeared lively, and not the worse for her long fasting, except being a little reduced in flesh, and the next day very lethargic.

I heard at the same time a still more extraordinary instance of a terrier remaining in an earth for twenty days, and I dare venture to vouch for the truth of it. The Hatfield hounds had run a Fox to ground, and the terrier followed it in. They dug many hours without coming up to the fox or the dog ; and at last were obliged to give it up as a hopeless job. The terrier was the property of old Joe, the then whipper-in, and a great favourite. He therefore had the earth watched, and on the twentieth day the dog crawled out a mere skeleton, but with proper attention was recovered.


A small observation: The use of over-large terriers has been normalized in the U.K. by the presence of many land drains and the large number of badger earths which a fox can use to get to ground.

An over-larger terrier in a branching drain system, of course, is a problem, as a fox with a 14" chest span can slide into a 9" pipe with ease, and then quite easily slide down a 6" pipe that branches off it.

The too-large terrier, of course, will be fine in a 9" drain, but in the 6" inch drain into which the fox has entered, things are going to be very tight, and for the terrier getting stuck is very likely.

Today, of course, we have electronic terrier locator collars, but in 1824 there was no such thing. The best you could do was drive a bar into the ground, put a cup to the bar, and listen. If the dog was 20 feet away and still shallow, you might get a read, but if it was 40 yards away away, and running deep, you were out of luck and so was the dog.

For more on the problems that come with over-reliance on large drains and artificial earths, see Out of the Ring and Into the Den and Artificial Dens, Big Dogs and Fair Chase.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Old School Hunting ... VERY Old School



A "persistence hunt" of a Kudu, by members of the San tribe in the Kalahari Desert.
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Save the Antelope!



When they assigned me to protect the Thompson's Gazelles in my area, I had no idea how much work that would be!
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The Blind Clerk at Cabella's ...




A woman goes into Cabela's to buy a rod and reel for her grandson's birthday. She doesn't know which one to get so she just grabs one and goes over to the counter.

A Cabela's associate is standing there wearing dark shades. She says, 'Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me anything about this rod and reel?'

He says, 'Ma'am, I'm completely blind; but if you'll drop it on the counter, I can tell you everything from the sound it makes.'

She doesn't believe him but drops it on the counter anyway. He says, 'That's a six-foot Shakespeare graphite rod with a Zebco 404 reel and 10-LB. Test line. It's a good all around combination; and it's on sale this week for only $20.00..'

She says, 'It's amazing that you can tell all that just by the sound of it dropping on the counter. I'll take it!' As she opens her purse, her credit card drops on the floor.

'Oh, that sounds like a Master Card,' he says.

She bends down to pick it up and accidentally farts. At first she is really embarrassed, but then realizes there is no way the blind clerk could tell it was she who tooted. Being blind, he wouldn't know that she was the only person around?

The man rings up the sale and says, 'That'll be $34.50 please.'

The woman is totally confused by this and asks, 'Didn't you tell me the rod and reel were on sale for $20.00? How did you get $34.50?'

He replies, 'Yes, Ma'am. The rod and reel is $20.00, but the Duck Call is $11.00 and the Catfish Bait is $3.50.'
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Boulder Dam's Canine Grave



If you go to Hoover Dam, you will find a dog grave and plaque, but the name of the black dog is never alluded to. We live in a different time, thank goodness, and without apology.
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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Terrier Classification in the AKC Stud Book of 1889




The AKC Stud Book of 1889 classified Fox Terriers in the "Sporting Class" (see above), along with Setters, Pointers, Retrievers, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds Greyhounds, Deerhounds and Fox Hounds.

The same stud book classified all other terriers as "Non-Sporting" (see below).





For those interested in seeing the entire AKC stud book of 1889, I have loaded it up to the Terrierman.com web site. The PDF is about 500 pages.
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