Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Your Vet Has a Heartworm Medication Secret



In yesterday's post, I mentioned that folks are giving monthly doses of insecticide to their dogs to prevent heartworm, but that an every-other month dose in warm weather will do just as well, and that your dog does not need to be dosed at all during cool weather (night time temperatures of under 57 degrees).

I have, of course, written about all this before and I encourage folks to go read that now.

None of this is new, of course. In fact, it was spelled out in a 1998 article by David H. Knight, DVM and James B. Lok, PhD. published in Clinical Techniques in Small Animal Practice and entitled Seasonality of Heartworm Infection and Implications for Chemoprophylaxis. As Knight and Lok note in that paper:

The practice of some veterinanans to continuously prescribe monthly chemoprophylaxis exaggerates the actual risk of heartworm transmission in most parts of the country and unnecessarily increases the cost of protection to their clients.


The authors go on to say, in a nice under-stated way, that heartworm hysteria pays a nice dividend for vets.

There is also a tremendous financial incentive to veterinarians to promote heartworm chemoprophylaxis because they control distribution of these excellent products in a market that is already large but not yet saturated. Unfortunately, preoccupation with worse case scenarios imparted by the profession to our client's and what could be perceived as an obvious economic self interest for veterinarians to promote chemoprophylaxis has encouraged an insidious overuse of a good thing. The well-intentioned promotion of heartworm awareness and prevention may overshadow the fact that in the temperate latitudes, heartworm transmission is seasonal and chemoprophylaxis is not necessary on a continual basis.


Knight and Lok note that vets hide the truth from their clients because it is in their financial interests to do so.

[W]hat harm is there in liberally dispensing these drugs? The issue that needs to be considered is whether medical justification should prevail over entrepreneurial interests in dispensing drugs intended to prevent rather than cure disease? Because veterinarians are permitted to sell the drugs they prescribe, use may not always be based strictly on medical justification...

... [G]iven what is presently known, continued adherence to a policy of superfluous chemoprophylaxis is disquieting because financial expediency for the veterinarian conflicts with clinical objectvity, and client consent is predicated on unrealistic expectations. Clients mistakenly believe they are purchasing additional protection for their pets, but in reality they are not. If the truth were known to them, few clients would agree to unnecessarily double their expense for heartworm prevention.


Right.

But is this the kind of information your vet will tell you?

It is not! And why not? Simple: there's no money in the truth.

And so the vets beat the drum of dependency and over-medication, abetted by the "American Heartworm Society" which is entirely funded by companies that sell heartworm drugs and testing kits. It's a bit like Penzoil writing your car manual and advising you to change your oil every month. Your car mechanic would then point to this manual to justify his services and sales -- and yes he only uses Penzoil in a car like yours! Perfect!
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Monday, August 30, 2010

February 1959 Predicts the Library of the Future



Here's a pretty great little illustration and description that came out only two days before I was born.

This is from a futuristic newspaper strip drawn by Arthur Radebaugh and called Closer Than We Think.

"Some unusual inventions for home entertainment and education will be yours in the future, such as the 'television recorder' that RCA's David Sarnoff described recently. With this device, when a worthwhile program comes over the air while you are away from home, or even while you're watching it, you'll be able to preserve both the picture and sound on tape for replaying at any time. Westinghouse's Gwilym Price expects such tapes to reproduce shows in three dimensions and color on screens as shallow as a picture."


I particulary like the line at the end: "Next week: Troop transport capsules!"

This is from a pretty great little blog called Paleo-Future. Check it out!
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Gideon Bolts His First Groundhog

Gideon bolted his first groundhog yesterday.

The sette was an enormous multi-eye labyrinth in a never-plowed field, and the groundhog went back to ground in another part of the sette, but by then I was done digging in the searing sun. It was 88 degrees in the shade acording to my cell phone, but I was not digging in the shade!

I packed it up, to try elewhere, and we hit the nearby forest. The dogs found some more holes, but after another hour of noodling around, I called it a day and headed back home to finish some writing. Deadlines!

Gideon has the most remarkable range of sounds that come out of him. He yodels, wails, barks, and makes a sound with his mouth that sounds like he's got serious indigestion. Very comical.

I have to say Gideon has already proven to be quite a wonderful dog. He loves kids, does great with the other dogs, readily goes to ground, and does not range very far when we are out in the field. Pretty perfect.

I can hardly wait until it gets a little cooler!
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Are There Dead Dogs and Cats in Dog Food?



As a species, we are naturally drawn to the gruesome, the frightening, and the macabre.

We pay good money to see slasher movies and ride death-defying roller-coasters.

And so it should come as no surprise to find that folks love to speculate about whether... maybe... dead dogs and cats are being ground up for kibbled dog food.

Here's the short answer....

NO.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration web site addresses the issue directly if folks will actually take the time to read.

Read?

Good God man, where's the fun in that? Next you'll be telling us there's no Sasquatch, no Chupacabra and no alien autopsies -- and Lord knows we've all seen the videos of those things!

Right.

True enough.

But there are no videos of dead dogs and cats being turned into dog food. None.

And while there is a trace amount of pentobarbital residue in kibbled dog food, it does not seem to be a health concern, and it has a perfectly simple source explanation: Beef Cattle.

But don't take my word for it. Here's what the FDA has to say about the pentobarbital found in dog food and where it does NOT come from:

The low levels of exposure to sodium pentobarbital (pentobarbital) that dogs might receive through food is unlikely to cause them any adverse health effects, Food and Drug Administration scientists concluded after conducting a risk assessment.

During the 1990s, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) received reports from veterinarians that pentobarbital, an anesthetizing agent used for dogs and other animals, seemed to be losing its effectiveness in dogs. Based on these reports, CVM officials decided to investigate a plausible theory that the dogs were exposed to pentobarbital through dog food, and that this exposure was making them less responsive to pentobarbital when it was used as a drug.

The investigation consisted of two parts. First, CVM had to determine if dog food could contain residues of the drug. Second, if residues were found, the Center had to determine what risk, if any, the residues posed to dogs.

In conjunction with this investigation, the Center wanted to determine if pet food contained rendered remains of dogs and cats.

How pentobarbital can get into dog food

Because in addition to producing anesthesia, pentobarbital is routinely used to euthanize animals, the most likely way it could get into dog food would be in rendered animal products.

Rendered products come from a process that converts animal tissues to feed ingredients. Pentobarbital seems to be able to survive the rendering process. If animals are euthanized with pentobarbital and subsequently rendered, pentobarbital could be present in the rendered feed ingredients.

In order to determine if pentobarbital residues were present in animal feeds, CVM developed a sophisticated process to detect and quantify minute levels – down to 2 parts per billion of pentobarbital in dry dog food. To confirm that the methods they developed worked properly, CVM scientists used the methods to analyze dry commercial dog foods purchased from retail outlets near to their Laurel, MD, laboratories. The scientists purchased dog food as part of two surveys, one in 1998 and the second in 2000. They found some samples contained pentobarbital (see the attached tables).

Dogs, cats not found in dog food

Because pentobarbital is used to euthanize dogs and cats at animal shelters, finding pentobarbital in rendered feed ingredients could suggest that the pets were rendered and used in pet food.

CVM scientists, as part of their investigation, developed a test to detect dog and cat DNA in the protein of the dog food. All samples from the most recent dog food survey (2000) that tested positive for pentobarbital, as well as a subset of samples that tested negative, were examined for the presence of remains derived from dogs or cats. The results demonstrated a complete absence of material that would have been derived from euthanized dogs or cats. The sensitivity of this method is 0.005% on a weight/weight basis; that is, the method can detect a minimum of 5 pounds of rendered remains in 50 tons of finished feed. Presently, it is assumed that the pentobarbital residues are entering pet foods from euthanized, rendered cattle or even horses.

Finding levels of pentobarbital residues in dog food

Upon finding pentobarbital residues in dog food, the researchers undertook an assessment of the risk dogs might face. Dogs were given known quantities of pentobarbital for eight weeks to determine if consumption of small amounts of pentobarbital resulted in any physiological changes that could indicate potential effects on health. In short, the scientists wanted to find the level of pentobarbital dogs could be exposed to that would show no biological effects. The most sensitive indicator that pentobarbital had an effect is an increase in the production of certain enzymes collectively called cytochrome P450.

Virtually all animals produce enzymes as a normal response to metabolize naturally occurring and man-made chemicals in their environment. Barbituates, such as pentobarbital, are especially efficient at causing the liver to produce these enzymes. In dogs, the most sensitive biological response to pentobarbital is an increase in the production of cytochrome P450 enzymes, which is why the scientists chose that as the best indicator of biological effect. If a low level of pentobarbital did not cause a dog to produce additional cytochrome P450 enzymes, then scientists could assume that the pentobarbital at that low level had no significant effect on the dog.

In CVM’s study, experimental animals were each dosed orally with either 50, 150, or 500 micrograms pentobarbital/day for eight weeks. The results were compared with control animals, which were not exposed to pentobarbital.

Several significant pentobarbital-associated effects were identified in this study:

1. Dogs that received 150 and 500 micrograms pentobarbital once daily for eight weeks had statistically higher liver weights (relative to their bodyweights) than the animals in the control groups. Increased liver weights are associated with the increased production by the liver of cytochrome P450 enzymes;

2. An analysis showed that the activity of at least three liver enzymes was statistically greater than that of the controls at doses of approximately 200 micrograms pentobarbital per day or greater.

But researchers found no statistical differences in relative liver weight or liver enzyme activity between the group receiving 50 micrograms pentobarbital per day and the controls. Based on the data from this study, CVM scientists were able to determine that the no-observable-effect level – which is the highest dose at which no effects of treatment were found – for pentobarbital was 50 micrograms of pentobarbital per day.

Adverse health effects unlikely

For the purposes of CVM’s assessment the scientists assumed that at most, dogs would be exposed to no more than 4 micrograms/kilogram body weight/day based on the highest level of pentobarbital found in the survey of dog foods. In reality, dogs are not likely to consume that much. The high number was based on the assumption that the smallest dogs would eat dog food containing the greatest amount of pentobarbital detected in the survey of commercial pet foods-- 32 parts per billion.

However, to get to the exposure level of 50 micrograms of pentobarbital per day, which is the highest level at which no biological response was seen, a dog would have to consume between 5 to 10 micrograms of pentobarbital per kilogram of body weight. But the most any dog would consume, based on the survey results, was 4 micrograms pentobarbital per kilogram of body weight per day.

It should be emphasized that induction of cytochrome P450 enzymes is a normal response to many substances that are naturally found in foods. It is not an indication of harm, but was selected as the most sensitive indicator to detect any biological effect due to pentobarbital.

Thus, the results of the assessment led CVM to conclude that it is highly unlikely a dog consuming dry dog food will experience any adverse effects from exposures to the low levels of pentobarbital found in CVM’s dog food surveys.

What do all those words mean?

Simple:


  1. There is NO EVIDENCE of any dead dogs or cats in dog food.
    No evidence. None. Zero. Empty set. The testing showed nothing at a level of 0.004 percent or 5 pounds of rendered remains spread over 100,000 pounds of dog food.

  2. The pentobarbital in dog food is less than is needed to trigger even the smallest and most sensitive of naturally occurring enzyme reactions in a dog. This is important, as toxicity of any substance is always about dosage. In our own world, we are surrounded by poisons, from alcohol in our counter-top fruit, to toxic metals in our cooking ware, to toxins coming from car exhaust and settling on our lawns (to say nothing about what comes out of the hose-end of the garden sprayer). Even water is toxic in the wrong dose. Dosage is everything.

  3. The pentobarbital in dog and cat food has an obvious source -- beef cattle. Cattle and horses are often dosed with pentobarbital for standing veterinary examinations. Though sick animals recently dosed with pentobarbital are not supposed to make in into the food chain, they do at times. And that's not just the dog food chain, by the way -- that's probably the human food chain as well. You see beef from downer cows has been routinely served to our children as fresh hamburger that may or may not be cooked all the way through.

    What? Downer cows have been served to our school children? Yes indeed, and the Humane Society of the U.S. has put the whole story on video tape and filed a False Claims Act lawsuit, which the U.S. Department of Justice has joined as well.

Is there similar video tape of dead dogs and cats being rendered into dog food?

No there is is not.

In fact,
the entire dead-dogs-turned-into-dog-food-story seems to have been sparked by a single 1995 story in the Baltimore City Paper (a free local newspaper more famous for its "personals" column than its reporting) which asserted -- but never proved -- that a local independent rendering plant was running two separate lines (one for slaughterhouse and butcher waste, and the other for roadkill and euthanized pets) and then mixing the fats at the end of the run.

But guess what?

When ABC television's 20/20 news program investigated,
they found the story had no legs. It was not true so far as they could tell, and they had to pull the plug on the story that they had intended to take national.

Other reporters have chased the same story again and again over the years, but they too have come up with nothing despite the fact that everyone with an Ipod Nano now has a miniature camera and recording device capable of making a pile of cash for the right video tape.

It seems dead dogs and cats are simply NOT being made into dog food. They might be made into candles, industrial grease, floor wax, or chicken or hog feed, but not dog food.

Let me say it another way: We have more evidence of Sasquatch, chupacabras, the Loch Ness monster, and space aliens being autopsied at Area 51 than we do of dogs and cats being rendered into dog food.

Of course, a lot of people are not going to be swayed by the facts.

Why let truth get in the way of a good story? Why let science derail the fear-inducing story-board which says ALL of our processed foods are bad, and that the FDA has NO IDEA what is in them.... and never mind if our food are actually safer today than at any time in U.S. or world history.

But hey, I am not trying to sway the minds of the folks who stand in long lines at the fair in order to pay good money to be scared.

Everyone needs a thrill, a hobby, and a cause.

I get it.

Carry on. If you want to worry about what is in kibble, be my guess.

But be advised that your dog is definitely eating its own shit.

And if you run your dog loose in forest, field or fen, it's also eating the occasional fox and raccoon crap, cat turd, cow pattie, pile of deer shit, and mouse dingle-berry as well.

If your dog spends any time outside on its own (even if it is just in your suburban back yard) it almost certainly eating a dead sparrow once in a while, and maybe a live lizard or snake. For sure it is eating the occasional live mouse or dead squirrel.

If you leave your food and water bowls outside on the patio or porch, your dog is certainly drinking a little rat pee, and has probably gobbled down a little possum snot as well.

And I have not even talked about what happens when your dog drinks out of the toilet bowl in your house, or licks its crotch, or sniffs the butt of the dog next door. Woooeeee!

You say you are worried about toxins in kibbled dog food?

OK. Worry away. I can't stop you.

But just for a second, you might think about the toxins you intentionally put in your own dog every month.

Your dog is probably on heartworm medicine, which is nothing more than an insecticide, and you are feeding this poison to your dog every month at a level that is it lethal to a living thing that only might be inside your dog.

And you are probably feeding this poison to your dog every month regardless of outside temperature and despite the fact that a monthly dosing of insecticide is not needed to control heartworm (once every two or three months will do the job).

On top of the insecticide you are putting inside your dog every month, there is the insecticide you are putting outside your dog every month because you cannot be bothered to use a flea comb -- the topical flea and tick medicine called Frontline or whatever other variation on a theme that you are using. This stuff is a powerful neurotoxin.

So you are dosing your dog, inside and out, every month, with powerful poisons designed to kill and which do kill every day.

But what you are worried about is a trace toxin that might be found in your dog's kibble?

I think that's a little amusing.

But, of course, I am not trying to tell you
to change your area of concern.

Be strong and carry on.

That said, I am willing to bet
I know what will kill your dog, and it's not likely to be bagged kibble!

It's YOU.

You see, about 40% of all dogs are obese
and obese dogs have shorter lives and often live for years with collapsing joints and other ailments as well. Dogs are obese because of their owners and nothing else.

Add to obesity the breed of dog you selected.

Do you have a Boston Terrier,
a French Bulldog, a Pug, an English Bulldog or a Pekingese?

These dogs have chronic breathing problems, and are routinely beset with joint and spine problems, to say nothing of chronic skin diseases and eye problems.

You think these dogs are likely to die from kibbled dog food?

Not a chance.

These dogs are far more likely to die
from the intentional deformity and defect that you yourself once found so amusing.

Of course, the flat-faced brachycephalic breeds are only a small slice of the canine parade of dysfunction.

We also have the dogs that are four-legged cancer bombs: the Scottish Terriers, the Bernese Mountain Dogs, the Flat-coated Retrievers, the Greyhounds, the Deerhounds, and the Golden Retrievers.

The cancers here are gene-based, and are exacerbated by inbreeding.

But do the owners of these breeds stand up and demand an open registry to perhaps reduce the incidence of cancer?

They do not.

Do the owners of these breeds tell every prospective puppy owner that there is a better than 50% chance that the little puppy they are about to buy will die from a heart-breaking cancer which, before it dies, will suck thousands of dollars from the poor rube's wallet?

Nope.

And a similar silence is heard from the myriad other breeds wrecked by dyplasia, heart and liver disease.

Instead of a demand for AKC reform, we get a lot of hand-wringing about what might be in dog food, and what it might do to dogs.

Which is fine with me.

I get it.

There will always be folks
standing in line to pay good money to see a slasher movie or ride the roller coaster.

There will always be people standing in line to pay money to see the freak show.

There will always be people willing to pay a lot of money for a Jaguar sports car, and never mind the crappy construction and enormous repair bills, or the fact that the owners will never drive the car more than 75 miles an hour.

Form and image over construction and function. I get it

As a species, we like to scare ourselves, and we like to amuse ourselves, but we hate to take responsibility for our own actions and much prefer to blame the great and mysterious THEM.

And so our dogs cannot be dying early and tragic deaths because we selected deformed, defective and diseased breeds and then overfeed and under-excercised them.

It must be the food. It must be the dog food companies.

Those bastards!
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

STORM :: a Tim Minchin beat poem



Tim Minchin does a beat poem.

How cool is this? How graceful the execution? How punishing the delivery?

Perfect!.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Gorring's Raccoons


A repost from January 2006


The Monterey Herald reports on Germany's "Unwanted Raccoon Harvest":

California has had its revenge on Germany, the source of wild boars that were stocked to provide game for hunters and have since overrun the state, plowing up fields, gobbling plants and animals, and endangering endangered species.

Germany has raccoons. Lots of them, according to the Times of London. Some studies put the estimate at a million.

Times reporter Roger Boyes reported last week that "Vineyard owners across Germany are hiring bounty hunters to kill furry animals with a taste for grapes.

"Hunters are being hired to prevent a plague of raccoons with Nazi-era ancestry from munching their way through the German wine harvest."

The German wine-growing region of Kassel has become "the raccoon capital of Europe ever since Baron Sittich Von Berlerpsch released two of the animals into the wild in February 1934.

"The move was encouraged by Hermann Goering," he wrote, "the Nazi leader who, apart from being the head of Hitler's air force, was the chief forester of the Third Reich."

The first raccoons were brought from North America in the 19th century, Boyes reported, and their population grew by leaps and bounds when an Allied bomb hit a raccoon farm in 1945, scattering the animals.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Training Humans Like Dogs




Some years back, I co-authored a small book on eradicating street drug markets which got a kind review from Mark Kleiman, who was then teaching at the Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard.

Imagine my surprise then, to find this little video in my inbox this morning. It's of Mark Kleiman talking about his new book, entitled When Brute Force Fails.

Kleiman's basic thesis is that for too long we, as a society, have erred on the side of severity which has been inconsistently applied.

What we need to do, says Kleiman, is provide consistent and immediate consequences. If we do that, we will both reduce crime and put fewer people in prison.

Does this sound like the core tenants of dog training?

It should.

When you are trying to end self-reinforcing behavior, aversive training works quite quickly, provided it is consistent and assured -- a point I made on this blog in an earlier post entitled "The Radical Notion of Consequences.

If you are interested in crime, law enforcement and public policy, I can pretty much guarantee that When Brute Force Fails will be a very good read. Check it out next time you are at a bookstore or library, or order it directly from Amazon.
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cesar Millan's New Book



Cesar Millan has a new book coming out the first week of October, and it features Bob Bailey, Ian Dunbar, Joel Silverman, and Mark Harden, among others. .As the Amazon description notes,

Cesar takes on the topic of training for the first time, by explaining the importance of balance as the foundation for a healthy relationship between you and your dog. In order to provide a variety of training options, he calls upon some of the foremost experts in the field to offer their advice so that you can find the perfect approach that works for you and your dog through a variety of methods.

Filled with practical advice, anecdotes, tips, and trouble-shooting techniques from Cesar and his colleagues, this is the ultimate guide to a well-behaved and well-balanced dog—from a new puppy to an old dog who can still learn new tricks.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

The Only Training Book You’ll Ever Need


#1 New York Times bestselling author Cesar Millan shows you how to communicate well with your dog and shares the most effective and humane methods for teaching your dog how to be a happy, well-behaved member of your household. In Cesar’s Rules, he’ll address:

* The most popular training techniques, including positive reinforcement and using a clicker

* Ways to teach basic obedience commands sucha as sit, stay, and come

* The importance of balance, and why a well-trained dog does not necessarily mean a balanced one

* How to use your dog’s own natural inclinations to create better behavior

* The methods and theories from a variety of renowned trainers, including Bob Bailey, Ian Dunbar, Joel Silverman, and Mark Harden

* Encouraging and honoring your dog’s instincts.



I predict it's a best seller! To pre-order, click here.
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Iran's OK With Terrorists, But Not Terrierists


Iran is creating dog prisons for confiscated dogs.

From The Telegraph comes this story:


Iranian authorities have banned all advertisements for pets, pet food and other pet products.

The decision by Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance comes after the fatwa was issued by powerful cleric Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi.

While keeping dogs as pets has become increasingly fashionable in Iran in recent years, the fatwa cited Islamic tradition, which dictates that dogs are unclean.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Louis Armstrong :: What a Wonderful World



George David Weiss, who wrote this song in 1966, has died. He was 89, and also wrote "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."
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My Wife Knows Everything



This race is dedicated to Tiger Woods, whose divorce was finalized today.
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Gene for Pit Bull Brain Disease Identified

From the ScienceBlog comes news that the gene responsible for a genetic disorder in American Staffordshire Terriers (aka Pit Bulls) has been identified.

A North Carolina State University researcher has helped to locate and identify a gene responsible for a fatal neurodegenerative disease that affects American Staffordshire terriers. This same gene may be responsible for a similar rare, fatal disease in humans. Its discovery will lead to improved screening and diagnosis of the disease in dogs and is the first step in working toward a cure for both canines and humans.

Dr. Natasha Olby, associate professor of neurology, was part of a multi-national team of researchers who located the gene responsible for a variant of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCL), a family of diseases that result in mental and motor deterioration — and eventually death — in the dogs....

....Olby saw the first case of a canine version of adult-onset NCL in American Staffordshire terriers in 2000. Over subsequent years, she found that the disease was a widespread and hereditary problem within the breed, affecting one of every 400 registered dogs. The disease kills the neurons in the cerebellum, which controls balance. Over time, the cerebellum shrinks, motor control deteriorates, and the patient dies or is euthanized.

“The disease became so prevalent because it was a recessive disease with a late onset,” says Olby. “Carriers of a single copy of the mutated gene never develop symptoms, and dogs with two copies of the gene might not show symptoms until five or six years of age, so the mutation was able to take hold in the breeding population.”


Though this class of diseases appears to be more common in Am Staffs, it has also been found in many other dog breeds, including Tibetan Terriers, Dalmations, Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, English Setters, American Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Polish Lowland Sheepdogs, Miniature Schnauzers, Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, and Golden Retrievers, among others.

The disease tends to start late, and progresses over several years to include poor coordination, difficulty in swallowing, vision and hearing loss, rapid motion of the eyeball (nystagmus), and voice changes. In later stages, there may be seizures, tremors, and gait abnormalities.

A test for NCL is available for Tibetan Terriers, Dachshunds, Border Collies, American Bulldogs and English Setters.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Exactly Right


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Kenny B's Grandfather Passes on a Lesson in Dogs



Kenney B. writes:

Thank you ever so much for running a wonderful site. I am glad that someone has clearly stated what has been known for so long.

As a kid growing up I was around my Grandfather who raised Catahoula Cur dogs to work cattle on his farm. The dogs were used at least twice per week to bring cows from the woods to pens, for round ups to castrate calves, to pen cattle heading to the sale, to pen cows for worming and vaccination, and to hunt hogs that were turned loosed by a misguided hunter. This was a tradition, a way of life passed down from his father. When he was younger, and in his father's day, they had no free-range laws and the dogs were used to work cattle and hogs that were loose in the woods. He admits that it was a lot more work for everyone involved, back then, including the dogs.

I inherited coon hunting and hounds from my father. As a result. to compete in the events the dogs had to be registered with the Breed Club that you were hunting them in. So naturally I thought that the registered dogs were always better. Heck, registered dogs cost more; they must be better -- look what they are worth.

As I aged, I figured that I would provide my grandfather with a present. What better than a registered dog from the breed that he love, a Registered Louisiana Catahoula Cur. Boy I was proud of myself and just knew that Grandpaw would love the present. I am glad that he loved and cared for me regardless of the gift. It turned out to be a disaster and a great learning experience.

The dog turned out to be a complete buffoon. My grandfather knew it from the day that I gave him the dog and actually castrated the dog as soon as the testicles descended. I couldn't understand it. No other dog that he owned was castrated. Why in the world would he castrate the "well breed registered dog" that I bought him? The reason was he didn't want the pure breed stock to screw up his mixed up mutts! I now know that he only kept the dog because it was a present and he didn't want to hurt my feelings. I had seen him knock better dogs in the head because he wasn't feeding an animal that couldn't do the job he kept them to do. As it turns out the dogs was almost deaf and really very unintelligent.

That is when Paw Paw began to school me on dogs.

You don't own a dog that doesn't have a purpose.

You don't keep a dog that can't perform the job he was bred to do.

Paper is for wiping your rear, not to show how good a dog is, that is proven (can't be shown on paper) when you put him to work.

Never buy a dog from someone who just raises and sells dogs.

. . . and much more than I couldn’t have learned else where

Then he began to tell me how the registered dogs had all kinds of problems. Most people that owned them didn't even use them except for decoration and a conversation piece. He said he didn't want dogs from people that didn't know what a dog was for. Then he went on talking about how people liked dogs with certain colors, glass eyes, and all kinds of features. He knew he wanted a dog that could work. He would breed his dogs to others dogs that really worked and it wasn't always a Catahoula Cur. Heck it didn't even have to be a "pretty dog". Some were fuzzy, funny colored, and could be considered ugly by someone who didn't know a damn thing about dogs. They might not have looked it to the untrained eye, but the dogs were healthy, structurally sound, weren't too big, could work in the heat for hours on end, and they were beautiful to anyone who needed to get the cows into the pen. They were the real deal. He wasn't in the business of raising and selling dogs. He raised cattle and used dogs as a tool.

He knew something 30 years ago as common knowledge, and he passed the information on to anyone who had an interest and capability to understand what he was speaking about.

Since then, my dealing with dogs became a lot more fun. I began to enjoy the dogs again. I found pleasure and happiness in mutts. Some of my best remembered hunts came behind a dog whose father was only known as “The neighbor’s sneaky damn cattle dog” (according to Grandpaw). I gave up the high dollar hunting dog meets, and politics that go with it. Even then my dad wouldn't let us show the dogs in the beauty contest. He knew that didn't matter and in the words of a many a coon hunter "The bullshit stops when the tailgate drops".

I have now found a love for the terriers. They don't eat as much as those big old hounds. I ain't ever had to chase one all night to get him off a deer. They are easily accepted by others and don't look vicious. They do well with the family and live with us rather than in the kennel out back. They tree coons and possums, hunt squirrels, they can run a rabbit, they do it all, and most deer hunter don't mind me chasing critters where they deer hunt. With the walkers and blueticks. they were always scared that they were going to run the deer out of the country.

It goes on and on. I too have seen the ruin of many a breed of dog by the registering bodies. Just like people a dog can't be judged by who his daddy was.

I have enjoyed finding like minded people as you.

Again THANKS,

Kenny


Thank YOU, Kenny!

A great letter and a great lesson in dogs. Thanks for passing it on, in more ways than one!
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Faking Animal Cognition at Harvard


Marc D. Hauser of Harvard, author of Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think, has been nailed for faking at least some of his research.

You can read the story here, and read into it what you want.




Monday, August 23, 2010

"A Veritable Human Crufts"


Click to enlarge

In The Daily Telegraph, Ed West notes that inbreeding within the U.K.'s Pakistani immigrant community has made at least one insular neighborhood "a veritable human Crufts."

Nice.

The ironic bit here, of coure, is that the British National Party will no doubt use this as a catspaw for anti-immigrant sentiment, even as the Kennel Club's most fervent supporters pledge allegiance to inbreeding within the world of dogs.

Right. Discuss among yourselves. In the meanwhile, here's a little clip from Ed West's column:


It’s a strange irony that mass immigration, which is supposed to bring us diversity, has led to a massive increase in inbreeding.

Multi-cultural Britain was meant to be a Benetton advert of ethno-diversity, a new population as beautiful and colourful as that of Brazil, but hopefully without the massive levels of violent crime, inequality and squalor.

Instead, where once inbreeding and its related genetic problems was exceptionally rare in England, it is now commonplace; where this country was once a nation of mongrels (albeit pasty-faced ones), now we have plenty of thoroughbreds.

Bradford is a veritable human Crufts, with over three-quarters of the city’s ethnic Pakistanis marrying their first cousins, and this figure is not hugely above the national average of 50 per cent. Compare this to the percentage of British-Pakistanis who marry whites, 0.7 per cent, or British Hindus, just 0.1 per cent.

Unsurprisingly this has led to serious health problems, as television presenter, Tazeen Ahmad, explores in tonight’s Dispatches, “When Cousins Marry”.

As she writes: “We know the children of first cousins are ten times more likely to be born with recessive genetic disorders which can include infant mortality, deafness and blindness.

“We know British Pakistanis constitute 1.5 per cent of the population, yet a third of all children born in this country with rare recessive genetic diseases come from this community.”

Coyote Hunting USA, Dates Unknown







The number of coyotes in the U.S. has risen quite a bit since these pictures were taken, and coyotes are now found in every state, with the largest coyotes found in the Eastern U.S. The bottom picture shows a couple of coyotes and a red fox for comparison's sake.

About 500,000 coyotes are shot or trapped in the U.S. every year, but their population numbers keep climbing.
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Dirty Dogs are Happy Dogs



You can tell this is Mountain from the black spot on her tail.




Just the tip of her nose here. She's exiting dark ugly stuff along a railroad embankment. To come out head first, you first have to turn around underground. Not always easy!




Mountain exits another pipe sideways.




Happy dogs play dirty!

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Flying Bulldogs Get to Heaven Faster

From the U.S. Department of Transportation comes a press release noting that:

“Short-faced” dog breeds such as pugs and bulldogs represent about half of the dogs that die while being transported by their owners as cargo, a significantly higher rate of mortality than for other dog breeds, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).


Some airlines forbid short-snouted breeds from flying as cargo during the hot months.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gideon Takes a Short Outing to a Farm

I took Mountain and Gideon to a small farm to see how Gideon would do off-lead, and if he'd be interested in exploring a few settes.

It was a drizzly day, but only projected to hit 88 degreess which counts for cool after the suffocating heat of the last two months.

Gideon was terrific off leash -- he stayed with me and was interested in what Mountain was up to, but not to the extent that he forgot I was his first charge. Perfect.

We busted a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret in the creek bed; I always enjoy seeing these large birds take flight.

We hit a lot of holes, but Mountain never opened up except for one sette underneath a massive hollow tree (top picture) which cannot be dug and where the groundhog always escapes by climbing up inside the tree. Some places really are fortresses.

All in all a good, if blank, day. We were only out for a couple of hours. Next week, if it's cool, we'll get in some real hunting.


Gideon listens to Mountain inside trunk.


Gideon slides in to check a sette.


Another blank hole. The plastic pipe at left protects a newly planted tree from deer damage.


Gideon checks another sette hoping to find.


Where are the groundhogs?
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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Standards Where Health & Performance Are Zero



John Henry Walsh invented the Kennel Club "standard" -- cookie cutter judging based on a series of arbitrary points compiled by folks who may not have even owned any of the dogs they were writing a "standard" for.

Walsh was editor of The Field magazine, and wrote for that publication under the pseudonym of ‘Stonehenge.’

In 1867, a scant eight years after the first formal dog show (where he was one of the judges), Walsh published The Dogs of the British Islands, in which he and several friends set out to to detail the physical attributes of various breeds, and to assign various "points" to these features so that the dogs could be judged in a systematic way from show to show.

Walsh's point system (along wih the eugenics theories of Francis Galton) served as the backbone and architectural model of the Kennel Club point system which is used to judge dogs in the ring, and on the bench, to this day.

Walsh's point system gave ZERO points to health and field performance, and that is still true in the Kennel Club ring to this day. Any wonder then why health and performance are so pitiful among Kennel Club dogs?

Human Vs. Rat Maze Challenge



Never underestimate a rat.

Rats are used in labs to measure intelligence, they have steered rockets in space, and they have not only survived, but thrived, on nearly every poison thrown at them.

They can swim 2 miles out to sea, dive more than 50 feet, exert bite pressure of 24,000 pounds, and chew through drywall and metal.

Never bet against the rat, unless there is a terrier in the game.
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Minimalist Jack Russell



Hat tip to Vincent in France for this picture.

My contribution is the quote below, from the great Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Related Post:
** A Standard for a Working Terrier
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Pigeons Murder Alfred Hitchcock ....



Pigeons murder Alfred Hitchcock...

Of course, later on Hitchcock's widow sent her minions to sort things out.



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No One is Laughing, Ginger Rogers



Morty had no balls, and Ginger never let him forget it!
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Fencing In Good & Fencing Out the Unwanted




I was writing a short note about political positioning the other day and had this bit of advice:
  1. Say who you are and say it simply and clearly.

  2. Say who you are NOT, and say it simply and clearly and never mind if some take it as criticism of their position.

This is fencing.

A fence keeps things IN, and it also keeps things OUT.

It provides clarity and clarity is a good thing most of the time.



No, not deep thinking, I suppose, but it did remind me of a great poem, and in the rush of this busy morning, this is what I have to offer and it will have to do:


MENDING WALL
. . . . . . . . by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."
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Watch These Rabbits Do Agility!



This exhibit is from the Netherlands Denmark. Pretty darn impressive!
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Letter from the Kennel Club



Dog World is reporting that the Kennel Club in the UK is about to reach out to vets across Britain.

The crack team of researchers here at Terrierman.com have been forwarded a copy of the letter that we are told is to accompany the 200-page report, which sounds suspiciously like the 200-page report and money-making scheme that Dr. Craig Dixon is flogging here in the U.S., and which we have previously reported on.

Dear Veterinary Service:

Good news!

As most of you know, we at the Kennel Club have been producing diseased, defective, and deformed dogs now for more than 100 years.

Many of you have paid for your homes and sent your children to college based upon incredible fees you have charged wailing customers whose dogs were crippled by hip dysplasia or about to go blind due to an inherited eye disease.

And of course, there's the standard money makers we have provided for you -- Cesarean births for dogs that cannot whelp on their own, sinus operations on the dogs that cannot breathe, and the biggest money maker of all -- skin rashes that keep coming back again and again. Ka-ching!

I am writing you today to let you know that we at the Kennel Club intend to continue to produce generations of dogs for your financial benefit.

Have no worries there.

In fact, we have just found a new line of money-making for you.

Here's the gambit: we have produced a new 200-page manual listing all the genetic testing you can fob off on every new dog owner.

These tests can generate as much as £100,000 a year for you and your practice, and these tests will always be needed because we will never allow the kind of cross-breeding needed to reduce inherited defect. In fact, testing will result in a narrowing of the gene pools and even more inbreeding in most cases.

Perfect!

And here's more good news: The Kennel Club sells health insurance.

Yes we make bank money from this, but you can too! You see, pet health insurance means that you can charge more for any and all procedures that need to be done. How good is that? Perfect, once again!

Remember, we at the Kennel Club are always here for you. We encourage you to help us help you by pushing our new Accredited Breeders Scheme.

Don't worry; it doesn't actually require the production of healthy dogs or impose any common sense standards. It's business as usual at the Kennel Club, and puppy farmer are always welcome! But what the Accredited Breeders Scheme does is make it sound like you care about canine health, and it makes us sound like we do too. In the days ahead, as we continue to work hard to make the world safe for pet health insurance sales and veterinary billing, this fig leaf of concern will be an important fiction to maintain.

Upwards and onward. Profits first, with dogs always bringing up the rear!

The Kennel Club


Is this the letter that is being sent by the Kennel Club?

Our researchers say it is, but time will prove it one way or another! Stand by for more details!



Notice that this is sold as a big money-maker for the vet and is paired with the sale of pet health insurance.

Notice too that neither this vet nor the Kennel Club is producing a simple poster showing the longevity of dogs, or the prevalence of disease in breeds.

Is there a Kennel Club poster showing the "Dirty Dozen of Defective, Diseased, and Deformed Dogs That Will Cost You Big Dollars"?

There is not! Where's the money in that??
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Coffee and Provocation


  • I Want One of These:
    I want one of these, and you will too. Want, want, want, want. Now! And link comes with video goodness too.

  • Wrong Kind of Earth Dog:
    Cavers recently rescued a coon hound that slipped into a cave and was trapped there for three days while his owner stood vigil. A nice story that ends well, and not the first "hound underground" story we have featured on this blog. See here and here.

  • Compassion Fatigue for Coyotes:
    Coyotes are starting to get a bit out of hand all over the East Coast. Nova Scotia? Roger that. Florida? Yep. New York? Check. New Jersey? Yep. There too.

  • Small Is Beautiful:
    Four people and a dog live in a 180-square foot house they built themselves. Check it out!

  • Ted Nugent, the Shooter of Pen-raised Farm Animals:
    Ted Nugent, the shooter of pen-raised farm animals, has now been nailed for hunting over bait. A previous post about this numb-nut can be read here.

  • Someday the Ants Will Kick Our Ass:
    By weight, there are as many ants on earth as people. And yes, the ants are plotting world domination. Read all about it here.

  • Hobbits Replaced by Sheep:
    In New Zealand, the film set constructed for the Hobbit village in the Lord of the Rings has been taken over by sheep. Check out the terrific pictures. Nice!

  • Cougars are Moving into Wisconsin:
    Yes, the native American lion continues to expand east and west. We now have more wild lions in America than in all of Africa. South Dakota is increasing its season, while in Red Bluff, California, they have them coming down Main Street.

  • Elk are Coming to Virginia:
    Elk are already in Kentucky, and some have walked over the border into Virginia on their own, but formal stocking and introduction to the Commonwealth will begin in 2012. Nice!

  • A Tepid and Tenuous Voice of Reform:
    Jemima Harrison interviews Professor Sheila Crispin, the new chairman of the Independent Dog Advisory Council which was formed on the recommendation of the Bateson report. Oddly, Ms Crispin seems to be a bit out of her depth when it comes to canine health issues, and she does not seem altogether sure as to what her group's mandate is supposed to be. One would think the Bateson report, and the others (RSPCA, APGAW) commissioned and produced in the previous 18-months would have given her a clear agenda for action and a sound education to boot, but she appears to be starting off a bit flat-footed. Hope springs eternal, but a realist keeps his expectations low. We shall see.


See the first link to get the meaning of this old Tintin panel from Red Rackham's Treasure. Notice Snowy (Milou) the terrier in the front seat. Yes, Tintin was a terrierman!. I grew up reading Tintin.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

$35 Tablet Computer Is an Instant Game Changer



Read about it, and see it, here. Made in India. Amazing!

More here and here and here.

Available next year. The low $35 price is for educational institutions, and the direct-to-consumer price will be a bit higher, but it's still a massive price breakthrough.
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What Will They Ban Next?


There are health reasons for male circumcision says the CDC.


In response to my piece on tail docking and the limits of coercion
(i.e why the proper response to differing opinions in the world of dogs is not always to pass a new law), a sensible person wrote in to say that he thought male circumcision was different than tattoos and breast augmentation, because the baby could not decide.

Right.

On the surface entirely logical. But let's think things through for a second or two more....

A baby cannot consent to vaccines either, but we go ahead with that, don't we? And thank God!

The assumption is that circumcision is purely an archaic historical convention, the same as tail docking, and that neither have any real health benefit. The assumption also seems to be that a little nip is horribly painful and/or or reduces function.

But, of course, neither statement is true for male human circumcision OR tail docking in working dog breeds.

Read that last line. Neither stament is true. There are real reasons to dock tails in certain working dog breeds, and there are real reasons to circumcise male babies, and neither practice is massively painful or debilitating in the slightest.

This last statement, about circumcision, seems to be new information to some, but the U.S. Center for Disease Control is quite clear on the matter.

And to underscore, the health benefits for circumcision are are not just for men; they are for women and babies too.

Notes The Washington Post:


In addition to reducing the risk for urinary tract infections among infants, studies indicate that circumcision cuts the chances of adult men's getting penile cancer and becoming infected with a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, AIDS, herpes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes genital warts in men and women and cervical cancer in women.


Wow!

Women. Men. Infants. Young adults. Old people.

Everyone seems to benefit when young male babies are circumcised.

So does that mean we should force parents to circumcise their children under penalty of law?

Not in my book. But then, I am a "let freedom ring" kind of guy, and that holds true for circumcision as well as tail docking.

Pardon the pun, but "different strokes for different folks."

Some things simply do not require one-size-fits-all legislation.

I am happy to educate rather than legislate; to persuade rather than coerce.

I do not require you to give up your religion in order to follow mine, nor do I mandate that you hunt your dog if you do not want to hunt.

I am a liberal that way.

Just because I am not gay does not mean I support a ban on gay marriage. And, to carry the analogy forward, if I were gay I would not require straights to stand at the back of the bus, nor would I deny them their health insurance benefits.

I am a liberal that way.

I support the Second Amendment, but I do not require that you own a gun (I do not own one myself), not do I require you to support my interpretation of the U.S. Constitution even though it is shared by both the Obama Administration and the U.S. Supreme Court.

I am a liberal that way.

I eat meat, but I am not opposed to you being a vegetarian. Conversely, if you are a pure Atkins-diet meat-eater, I trust you will not be lecturing me if I happen to choose to eat a salad or scarf down a potato for lunch.

Of course not everyone can live in their own skin without dictating what is on your skin.

And I mean that quite literally.

Of the population aged 26-40, 40 percent have tattoos.

I do not have a tattoo, but let me say that if the number of tattoo'd people climbs above 50 percent, I hope those with tattoos will not require the rest of us to get one! . Let freedom ring!

A little over 60% of U.S. men are circumcised. Let me affirmatively say that just because the majority of American men are circumcised, I do not think we need to jail those who are not. I do not even think we need to beat them up. . Let freedom ring!

It seems that of the population aged 26-40, 24 percent dye their hair "an untraditional color" not found in nature, while 22 percent have "a piercing other than an earlobe."

Yow! Freaks and geeks. No worries. Let it be said that when I become Emperor, I will not raise taxes on people with purple hair or or toss those with tongue or eyebrow piercings into jail. Let freedom ring!

And let it be said that I generally think well of women despite the fact that 91 percent of the more than 11.6 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed in this country last year were done on women. That number includes 400,000 breast augmentations, 153,000 breast reductions, 2.7 million botox injections, and 185,000 tummy tucks.

No one in my family had any of that stuff done, but I am affirmatively opposed to rounding up and imprisoning the girls at Hooters who got boob jobs, or the old ladies at the Country Club who got face lifts. . Let freedom ring!

Of course, not everyone supports letting freedom ring.

The British seem to love creeping fascism.

They not only banned fox hunting and most guns, but they also banned pit bulls and the tail-cropping of both terriers and certain breeds of gun dogs. And, of course, they did all of this for a perfectly good holier-than-thou reason (and never mind the health evidence); it seems all the other problems in the U.K. had already been solved! The nannies could not leave well enough alone. Never mind that the nannies were always free to excericse their own preferences; they had to step in and decide your preferences as well!

Thank God America is not controlled by the British!

Lovely people (some of my best friends, etc.), but I would not want to be governed by one.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had the right idea.

And need I say that all three of our Founding Fathers were Virginians? True!

We not only have the right to own a gun this State, but we also have the Constitutional right to hunt and fish, and yes we can also choose to dock a terrier's tale (or choose not to) and we can also circumsize our sons (or choose not to).

Let freedom ring!



There are health reasons to dock the tails on certain breeds of working dogs.
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Google Tricks and Tips



  • Weather:
    To find out the weather in your area, go to Google, type in "weather" and your zip code and presto -- there it is. Very useful when figuring out if you are going hunting tomorrow.

  • Weights and measures:
    I sometimes needs to convert currencies, weights and distances. Google will convert units of measurement between the U.S. and metric systems, or between larger and smaller units of measurement. Just type in "dollars to pounds" or "stones to pounds" or "20 miles in kilometers."

  • Time:
    You can find the local time anywhere in the world by typing "time" and the city's name. Sometimes you really need to know what time it is in Pakistan, London or Los Angeles. God help you, if you need to know the time in all three places in one day!
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Buy This Book and You Will Go Straight to Heaven

No, it's not a Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, or even an episode guide to Star Trek.

It's a book entitled Cold Noses, Warm Hearts; the Animals That Love Us! and every dime you pay goes to Russell Rescue.

Every dime?

Every dime!

How's that work?

Simple: two folks paid for publishing the book, so that the ENTIRE price of the book goes to Russell Rescue, NOT JUST THE PROFITS!

You can do good and do well, and get a nice feel-good book to boot.

How cool is that?

But for this to work, you need to click here and do your part in this equation: shell out $11.95, which includes free shipping for a limited period of time.

This is pretty small potatoes in terms of money and every dime goes to Russell Rescue, so the book is really FREE!

Free? FREE! Terrierman approved! Order made.

For the record, the forward to this book is by Catherine Romaine Brown, and three different Jack Russell Terrier lists-serve contributed contents.

Nice!
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Legal disclaimer: Most people go to heaven after buying this book. Your results may vary. Terrierman received no financial remuneration for this naked product endorsement. He bought his own book, and he hopes you will too. That is all.
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