What I Do Not Want for Christmas
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Information on working terriers, dogs, natural history, hunting, and the environment, with occasional political commentary as I see fit. This web log is associated with the Terrierman.com web site. Please see this web site for more information on working terriers, or to order the book.
At the same time that dog shows were roaring into fashion in Victorian England, another movement was beginning to take hold. This movement began with a push to improve the plight of farm stock and cart horses, but was quickly overtaken by those eager to push past the concerns of basic animal welfare in order to strike a blow at the less educated masses coming into cities and towns.
From the beginning, the animal rights movement blurred the line between animal welfare and class warfare. Sensible concerns about the plight of animals kept by the poor were mixed with disdain for the rural poor themselves.
As the Chairman of the SPCA noted in 1824, the objective of the Society was not only “to prevent the exercise of cruelty towards animals, but to spread amongst the lower orders of the people ... a degree of moral feeling which would compel them to think and act like those of a superior class.”
The first animal welfare law in Great Britain was passed in 1822 and was designed to “prevent the cruel and improper treatment of Cattle.” This law — the Martins Act — was interpreted broadly to include all farm animals, but not bulls or pets.
In 1824 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) had its first meeting in a London tavern, with the goal of expanding the 1822 Act to encompass nonfarm animals such as racing and hunting horses, draft horses, and cart dogs. The Society also sought to end dog fighting and the fighting of exotic animals such as monkeys.
Despite having a focused agenda, the Society failed to move legislation for the first 10 years of its existence. In 1835, however, they managed to get a ban on bull baiting, badger baiting and cock fighting through Parliament. The same law also outlawed the rat pits.
In 1839 dog carts were banned in London — a major blow to the economic livelihood of small street vendors.
In 1840, Queen Victoria — a fanatical dog collector — associated herself with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and allowed Royal to be attached to its name. The Royal imprint attracted social and political cache to the SPCA, and strengthened its funding base as well.
From the beginning, the SPCA chose its political battles carefully, going after the sport, entertainment and livelihood of those with little political power. The SPCA (now RSPCA) was careful not to go after the field sports of the wealthy and middle class. Coursing deer, hare and rabbit was given a pass. It was not seen as the least bit ironic for an RSPCA supporter to be seen fox hunting. Angling and bird shooting did not raise an eyebrow. The goal, after all, was not to save wildlife or end hunting per se, but to change the base morality of the poor who were “undisciplined” and of “low breeding”.
A moral and disciplined child might hunt animals, but he did not bait them.
A rich man might spur a horse or whip it with a riding crop, but he did not hit a dust cart horse with a stick.
A quality person might own a dog, but it would not be a crossbred mongrel, but an animal with an established pedigree.
And so it went.
At the top of the RSPCA this kind of highbrow reasoning was focused on the bottom line. The RSPCA needed the support of wealthy patrons to underwrite their literature and campaigns. Only a fool would bite the sporting hand that fed it.
Organizers at the RSPCA were quick to realize that the people who attended dog shows had good educations, nice clothes and steady incomes. These were “the right sort of people” who not only cared about animals, but also understood the importance of social rank, moral discipline and Old Money.
In fact, the dog show world attracted the very kind of social climbers that the RSPCA encouraged — people who were trying to emulate the aristocracy. When people attended dog shows, they wore their finest clothes and talked about the value of Good Breeding. Could anything be more perfect?
Dog show attendees and RSPCA supporters often seemed more focused on the plight of turnspit dogs and cart horses than on the plight of scullery workers and drovers’ children. One was a defenseless animal, after all, the other the progeny of illiteracy and an implied moral weakness.
Show ring terrier owners might brag that their dog or breed was descended from “certified fox killers,” but in fact they did not really understand or feel comfortable around shepherds or the rough men who did pest control in the countryside.
This kind of social stratification was a natural element of the aristocracy and the rapidly growing middle class. Gamekeepers and terriermen were required, of course, but they were not the sort of people you had over for dinner, were they?
In the end, the goals of the Kennel Club and the RSPCA were essentially the same — to improve rough stock by setting new standards. For one, the rough stock included dogs. For both, it included men.
Labels: coffee and provocation
"Dr. Zira, I must caution you. Experimental brain surgery on these creatures is one thing, and I'm all in favor of it. But to suggest that we can learn anything about the simian nature from a study of man is sheer nonsense. Man is a menace, a walking pestilence. He eats up his food supply in the forest, then migrates to our green belts and ravages our crops. The sooner he is exterminated, the better. It's a question of simian survival."
. . . - Dr. Zaius, Planet of the Apes
Terriermen and women have always been an uncommon lot, but at least we have a little bit of history!
This book was ripped off by George Turberville who translated the book and put it out as his own.
Turberville, however, called Fouilloux's dogs "terriers" rather than "bassets". Fouilloux's "bassets" were probably early dachshunds, as terriers were net yet common on the Continent.
Want to learn a little more and see more terrier tools from 1560? >> Just click here.
The issue of pedigree dog breeding and its consequences for welfare has recently been brought to the attention of the general public. The main sources of inherited defects are (i) deleterious inherited recessive traits expressed as a consequence of closed stud books and inbreeding practices; and (ii) dog breeders aiming to meet the breed standards for multiple aspects of physical conformation..
We carried out a review of inherited defects in the 50 most popular breeds of dog in the UK, according to Kennel Club registrations .... Every one of the 50 most popular pedigree breeds of dog in the UK were found to have at least one aspect of their physical conformation which predisposes them to a heritable defect. Conformation characteristics such as short heads, short legs, excessive facial skin folds, pendulous ears, long backs and curly tails are likely to predispose, or are genetically linked in presenting breeds, to a range of physical problems such as occipital dysplasia, malocclusion of the jaws, hip dysplasia, eye ulceration, chronic otitis, intervertebral disc disease, and spina bifida, respectively.
In many cases, there is an overlap or interaction between conformation and inherited diseases. For example, the spot colouration specified in the breed standards for Dalmatians has a genetic link with deafness. Certain defects were found to cluster by breed type – e.g. the tendency to develop patellar luxation is particularly common in the Terrier and Toy dog breeds, and the potentially fatal condition of gastric torsion is common to the working dog breeds such as Rottweiler, Dogue de Bordeaux, Doberman and Great Dane. . . .
. . . . This report has shown that every one of the 50 most popular pedigree breeds of dog in the UK were found to have at least one aspect of their physical conformation predisposing it to a heritable defect. Conformational features form a large proportion of these problems. From musculoskeletal diseases, such as hip and elbow dysplasia to brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome, eyelid defects, excessive skin folds and predisposition to gastric dilatation-volvulus in barrel-chested breeds, these defects affect all body systems across a variety of breeds. The association of some of these conditions with official breed standards and the high maintenance implications of some breed features (such as a prolific coat or pendulous ears) makes conformational extremes an important area for consideration when discussing the problems of the purebred dog breeding industry. Also highlighted by this report are the diverse and often severe genetic conditions suffered by dogs of these 50 popular breeds. Inbreeding, population bottlenecks, the use of strictly closed stud-books and breeding towards features genetically linked to deleterious conditions (such as the link between spot size and deafness in Dalmatians) have all contributed to the current situation. . . .
Summary: There are 209 different breeds of pedigree dogs recognised by the UK Kennel Club. In this report, we focused on the top 50 most popular breeds, according to the number of KC registrations in 2007. For these breeds, we found a total of 322 inherited disorders. Of these, 84 were either directly or indirectly associated with conformation.
"The following case has been communicated to me on good authority, and may, I believe, be fully trusted: a pointer-bitch produced seven puppies; four were marked with blue and white, which is so unusual a colour with pointers that she was thought to have played false with one of the greyhounds, and the whole litter was condemned; but the gamekeeper was permitted to save one as a curiosity. Two years afterwards a friend of the owner saw the young dog, and declared that he was the image of his old pointer-bitch Sappho, the only blue and white pointer of pure descent which he had ever seen. This led to close inquiry, and it was proved that he was the great-great-grandson of Sappho; so that, according to the common expression, he had only 1/16th of her blood in his veins."
A company in the United Kingdom is about to lift the lid on a device that zaps lobster with electricity to kill them, and the inventor said Wednesday his humane alternative to boiling is about to give the entire industry a jolt.
. . . . The animal rights group PETA bought two of the lobster devices and paid for Mr. Buckhaven and his wife to fly to the Arizona event last Saturday to demonstrate the technology.
Unfortunately, the courier service lost the two machines and the animal rights people had to look the other way as volunteers killed hundreds of lobster in boiling water for hungry supporters of the resource centre.
"According to the preliminary CBO analysis, the legislation would reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion over the first decade and by $650 billion over the second decade."
I find it very amusing that Pit Bull owners deny the genetic code in their breed. You do not see houndsmen going nuts when someone says "he stayed on the trail like a hound," or a greyhound man going nuts when someone says he "ran like a greyhound," or a terrierman expressing outrage when someone says he is as "tenacious as a terrier," or a bird dog man getting anxious because someone notes they were "bird-dogged to good information."
But Pit Bulls? You cannot say a Pit Bull is likely to go Pit Bull? Nonsense!
Here's a thought -- maybe that sentiment needs to be said more often.
If it was, perhaps nearly a million Pit Bulls a year would not be killed in shelters in this nation, most of then turned over to those shelters by owners who did not know or understand that a "Pit Bull can go Pit Bull."
But those are a minority of dogs, you may say.
Well yes, that's right.
"Only" about a third of all the Pit Bulls in America are killed every year BECAUSE THEY ARE PIT BULLS.
Read that line again.
Those deaths are not caused because someone is "calling" the dog a Pit Bull. Those dogs are dying because they ARE Pit Bulls, and it turns out that when "a Pit Bull goes Pit Bull" most people do not want them in their house. And that sentiment is shared by people who actually owned all those Pit Bulls! Are the folks who acquired Pit Bull all Pit Bull haters? I don't think so!
Now here's the interesting part: Most tigers in this country do not "go tiger" and most chimps do not "go chimp" either. And, as you might point out, neither do most Pit Bulls, in the sense that "only" a third of all Pit Bulls in the U.S. are being killed every year, which leaves 2/3 still "coloring between the lines."
Now here's the funny thing. You know what the lady who owned that Chimp said? She said it was just like a baby. It was her child. The folks who own tigers say the same thing -- go back and look at the Siegfried and Roy tapes of them bottle-feeding their cats, even as adults.
And you know what? Most of the time it works out. Tigers and Chimps kill or maul very few people in America -- far fewer than (well, you know) despite the fact that there are a LOT of private tigers and lions (about 30,000 big cats) and chimps (about 3,000 great apes) in America.
As to the notion that Siegfried and Roy's Tiger or that Chimpanzee were "wild" animals, or that the owners were "idiots who did incredibly stupid things" to their charges, you might want to go back and read about these animals and their owners.
None of these animals were wild -- they were all born and raised in captivity, bottle-raised, and well-trained. They were not abused in the slightest.
But does a Tiger have a genetic code? Yes it does. Does a Chimpanzee? Yes it does. Does a dog -- especially a Pit Bill? Yes it does.
And so we come to the point: A tiger just *might* go tiger someday, and a chimpanzee just *might* go chimpanzee someday, and a Pit Bull just *might* go Pit Bull someday. It's the genetic potential of the beast -- the reason "Pit Bull" is in the dictionary as an adjective that means: "One who behaves in a markedly aggressive or ruthless manner."
And NO, I do not think you are an idiot, or your dogs are a problem in the slightest. Surely you do not think the post was directed to you?
But do I think most "Pet Bull" owners have thought very much about the genetic code that exists in game bred animals? No, I do not. Too many folks believe that all animals can be "loved into being wonderful all the time." Siegfried and Roy thought that and still think that. So too does that woman who owned that mauling Chimp. And you know what? They are right most of the time. But the code can explode, can't it? And the code is not the same for all animals, is it? A "Tiger going Tiger" is well within the bounds of normal. So too is a "Pit Bull going Pit Bull."
And admitting that is Step One to saving the Pit Bull; accepting the Pit Bull for what it is, which is too often a serious problem for its owner.
You will learn here that while Pit Bulls make great family companions while in the right hands and living situation, they require intelligent, responsible and dedicated ownership.
Unfortunately too many people obtain these dogs for the wrong reasons or have little understanding on the inherent traits this breed possesses. It is unfortunate that one of the original purposes of the APBT was (and still is for many) dog-to-dog combat, but it’s a fact that can’t be denied or ignored. It’s very important that every potential Pit Bull owner, understands the selective breeding that took place to make these dogs of today and the inherited characteristics that are potentially within this wonderful breed.
. . . . We can’t blame specialized breeds for behaving like they were bred to do what they do. Certain specific traits were selectively bred into the dogs and are now a part of the breed’s character. It’s like the digging instinct of many Terriers, the herding behavior in Shelties, the compulsion to run in a Greyhound, etc. Your Pointer may have never spent a day on a real “hunt”, but he may still point and flush out a bird as his ancestors were bred to do so. We don’t have to condone or glorify it, but dog aggression is not uncommon with Pit Bull type dogs. Owners must recognize and accept this fact or they won’t be able to provide competent ownership and have fun with their dogs. It’s a mistake to think the fighting gene can be easily trained or loved out of a dog. Or that early socialization will guarantee your Pit Bull will always get along with other animals. Even though PBRC does not in anyway condone animal fighting, it does acknowledge the importance of understanding the special traits of this breed and advocates education about proper and responsible Pit Bull ownership. You can have all the dog experience in the world, but it’s also essential to understand the distinctive features of the type of dog you own or work with. In this case, a dog with an important fighting background who requires extra vigilance around other pets.
There are precautions to take when owning a Pit Bull, especially in a multiple-dog environment. Unfortunately these precautions are often viewed as an acceptance for the sport of dog fighting when nothing could be further from the truth. PBRC believes that knowing how to avoid a fight, as well as how to break up a fight, can be a matter of life or death for your dog and the “other” dog.
Take note that a fight can strike suddenly and for no apparent reason. Warning signs can be very subtle with Pit Bulls and even completely absent in certain cases. Two dogs may be best friends for years, sleep together, cuddle, play and even eat from the same bowl. Then one day something triggers one of them and BOOM! Often the dogs act like best friends as soon as the fight is over. They might even lick each other’s wounds. You have been warned though. They will do it again and get better at it every time.
. . . . It is not necessarily a hate of other dogs that will cause Pit Bulls to fight, but rather an “urge” to do so that has been bred into the breed for many generations. Pit Bulls may fight over hierarchic status, but external stimulus or excitement can also trigger a fight. Remember that any canine can fight, but Pit Bulls were bred specifically for it and will therefore do it with more drive and intensity than most other breeds.
Pit Bull owners must also be aware of the remarkable fighting abilities of this breed and always keep in mind that they have the potential to inflict serious injuries to other animals.
A repost from August 2005.
"The data refers to the evolution of the top 4 maritime empires of the XIX and XX centuries by extent. The visual emphasis is on their decline."