Sunday, July 31, 2011

Compared to What?

Photo by Elliott Erwitt, Dog Legs, New York City, 1974

No other species has within it, the same size differentials as the dog.
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Who Is Going to Bail Out Crufts?


Crufts, the world's largest dog show, lost sponsorship of the BBC and three dog food companies in the wake of the BBC program, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, a documentary whose core assertions were supported by three independent reports-- one of which was commissioned by the Kennel Club itself.

With the financial rocks of the next Crufts looming, a savior showed up in the form of a discount furniture store which said it would be the principal sponsor of the dog show, provided the Kennel Club made a sofa part of the Crufts logo.  Stuck between a rock and a hard spot, what else could the Kennel Club do?  It accepted the humiliation and soldiered forward.

Now, the discount furniture store has withdrawn its support, and more than a year later there is still no announcement about a new sponsor.  A major problem is that Crufts is not a more attractive advertising vehicle now than it was three or four years ago.   The controversy surrounding the poor health of pedigree dogs has hardly subsided.   In fact, it has gone global with Pedigree Dogs Exposed shown internationally, ABC television doing its own shorter version of the program, and Kennel Club's in the UK, Australia, and Canada tinkering with standards to try to reign in the worst while avoiding wholesale reform.  The effect of three independent reports and continued dithering by the Kennel Club has been to keep the controversy in the air, helped in no small part by the power of the Internet.

The real problem for the Kennel Club, however, is that the BBC has commissioned Pedigree Dogs Exposed 2, which is actually not a full reworking of the original program, but an update showing what has happened -- and what has not happened -- since the first documentary came out in 2008.  That said, a new showing of Pedigree Dogs Exposed -- and a reveal as to what has happened since -- is not likely to be seen as an ideal marketing vehicle for dog food, new cars, or even toothpaste.  The obvious principal sponsor -- a pet health insurance company -- is simply too radioactive an idea to even consider.

So what will the Kennel Club do?  Well, beggars cannot be choosers, so look for the price of the principal sponsorship to fall like a hot rock in the next few months.  Also, look too for the price of tickets to Crufts to go up, as accounts will have to be balanced somehow.  The long story short, however, is that the Kennel Club is not in a good position, and the fault is entirely their own.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Connecticut Mountain Lion Was a Wild Animal

Necropsy on Connecticut mountain lion



Connecticut moutain lion hit by SUV near Milford.

This specific mountain lion was in the wild in Minnesota in 2009 -- the last time it was positively identified from its DNA. Sightings of a mountain lion in Michigan in January and May of 2010 are believed to be this animal.

Michigan Mountain Lion caught on camera, Jan 18, 2010,





The journey of this mountain lion is a testament to the wonders of nature and the tenacity and adaptability of this species. This mountain lion traveled a distance of more than 1,500 miles from its original home in South Dakota – representing one of the longest movements ever recorded for a land mammal and nearly double the distance ever recorded for a dispersing mountain lion.


I should say! This lean young male weighed in at 140-pounds and had messed with a Porcupine sometime in not-too-distant past, as quills were found buried under the animals tissue.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Don't Cook the Dog!



It's amazing how how fast a car can heat up in the sun.  It can, literally, become as hot as an oven in only a few minutes time, even with the windows cracked. 

The results are predicatable:  dead dogs and dead children every year. 

And how often does this occur?  Everyday.  A quick search of Google News finds these current headlines:

So what can be done?

Well education for a start.  More people need to know how fast and how hot it can get inside a car.  The numbers are truly shocking, with temperatures knocking up to 120 degrees in only a few minutes, even with the windows cracked, and well over 200 degrees in less than ten minutes.

In the UK, Beverly Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, has teamed up with designer Judith Broug to try to turn the tide with simple window stickers meant to educate and remind people that it only takes a minute to cook a dog

Campaign posters and stickers have been translated into several languages and are now being spread in France, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal & Slovakia.  Excellent work, and hopefully an education campaign we will see grow, expand and get replicated every year.

Want to help?  It's as easy as passing on a link to this post or the campaign's web site, or posting your own bit on your own blog or Facebook page with the cooking cookies video, links, or graphics embedded.
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Birth Control for Dogs?


Over at The Week, they've got an update on birth control for dogs:

There's birth control for dogs?
It's in the works. Along with SenesTech, a biotech company that specializes in "humane animal population management," Arizona scientist Dr. Loretta Mayer has developed Chemspay, a doggy contraceptive that is administered once orally or via injection, and induces menopause in an animal. In trials conducted between 2004 and 2008, the drug significantly reduced the number of eggs in test dogs, thus rendering them unable to have puppies.

What's next for this canine pill?
Mayer is taking her research to India, where she's working on a project to curb the country's feral dog population. "This technology, if successful, will really have a huge impact on unwanted dog populations," she says. "The biggest impact will be where dogs are reservoirs for human diseases, like in India." Stateside, it could dramatically decrease the number of unwanted dogs that are euthanized, says Maria Parece at Gather.

So when can American dogs get in on this?
In three years or so, Mayer plans to begin FDA trials at an animal rescue center in Flagstaff, Ariz. It will take a total of six to nine years for Chemspay to gain FDA approval. "There is a very long timeline in this project," Mayer says. "Each and every one of our products takes years to develop."

For a list of your options as far as human birth control goes, see my Field Guide to Contraceptives.
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Keep Calm

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Monday, July 25, 2011

A Picture of William Faulkner and His Dogs


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Tastes Like Chicken



Iguana hunters on Taboga Island, Panama, 1922. This picture is from the National Geographic archives. Iguanas are still eaten all over Central America, where they are quite common. Now, of course, we have tremendous numbers of them in South Florida as well.
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Six for Sunday


Posts from the Last Week:

Pay It Forward



Kris Kristopherson is 75.  Long may he run.
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Cover of the Rolling Stone


Larry David and friend on the cover of The Rolling Stone.  Thanks to Dan G. for the heads up!
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A Life Lived Close to the Code is Good



I get to work earlier than most, stay later, and generally operate at a fairly high energy level due to a massive intake of coffee. One day, sufficiently long enough ago that anonymity can be preserved, I was in an office kitchen making a pot of African Mad Dance, when a fellow worker came in and glowered at me: "Why are you always so damn happy?!"

Without thinking, I replied: "Pretty simple: I live very close to my moral code."

And that was it.

She stomped out, and I poured a big Cup of Hope. I was not tring to serve up a barb to her of all people -- I had just been thinking about the nature of happiness and unhappiness, and she had actually broached the subject I had been thinking about. Bad timing!

Several months later, I met her on the elevator as she was leaving work, and she was palming a 24-hour chip from Alcoholics Anonymous. I acted as if I had not noticed, but I was very happy for her.
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Coffee and Provocation



Do You Think Organic Means No Pesticides?
If you think organic produce means no pesticides, you might want to read this piece from Scientific American on organic myths. As someone who hunts organic farms, I can tell you no one is more interested in seeing every deer, groundhog and raccoon taken off the place. A blood free meal? Sorry, that's not possible from the moment you cut down the forest and plant row crops.

PeTA is as Dumb as a Stump:
It seems the idiots at PeTA have a solution for the two million feral hogs running around Texas -- just round them up and put them inside some nice cheap fencing. Over at the Texas Department of Agriculture, they are still laughing.

The End of Service Ferrets and Seeing Eye Ducks:
I was a huge supporter of the Americans with Disabilities Act and pushed hard for its passage. What I did not expect was the level of nonsense that would pop up in the the world of service animals. For 20 years now, a small but pushy group of people have been trying to claim their house cat, ferret or duck as a service animal so they can get it onto airplane flights, into stores, and even into restaurants.  Now the U.S. government has put an end to it and defined a service animal as a trained dog that does a service (and under certain narrow circumstances, it may include a miniature horse). 

Transgenic Chickens to Stop the Spread of Disease?
Researchers from the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland (the same place that created Dolly the cloned sheep) have created a transgenic chicken that won’t spread bird flu to other birds.  Because about 80 percent of the world’s chickens come from just two companies that sell purebred chicken lines, this may have an enormous (and positive) public heath consequence.

The Toyota RAV4 Powered by Tesla?
Things are starting to look pretty interesting in the world of electric vehicles.  Toyota is paying Tesla Motors $100 million for the rights to put the Tesla power train (it works!) into production in the 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV.  This may be The One for those of us with dogs (price will matter a lot!) and it's going to be here very soon. 

The Story Fox News Will Not Tell You:
You can blame a right-wing, Christian, nationalist, Islamophobe for shooting 80 children on Utoya Island in Norway and bombing an Oslo building that killed 7. And, of course, it was a right-wing, Christian, nationalist, Islamophobe that also bombed us in Oklahoma City. And, of course, it was right-wing, Christian, nationalist, Islamophobes that spurred us to kill 300,000 in Iraq who had nothing to do with the September 11 bombing of the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Sauce for the goose and sauce for the gander, and a little something to think about.

This Dog Will End Up Dead, Killed by His Owner:
People are idiots, and here's a good example, captured on video. This guy is letting (and even encouraging) his Jack Russell terrier climb difficult rock cliffs without benefit of the rope and other protective features he demands for himself. This is a predictable disaster waiting to happen, same as throwing a dog's ball out in traffic.

Deviled Tongue:
I have a friend who loves tacos made from cow tongue.  I must remember to send him this ad for Underwood "Deviled Tongue," made by the same people who used to make "Deviled Ham."  And how about that corporate slogan:  "Branded with the Devil, but fit for the Gods" ? I'm not sure that slogan would pass muster with the fundies these days.  In 1918, of course, the fundies did not exist; they are a modern creation.

The Original Polar Bear Club:
A female polar bear wearing a GPS tracking device was recorded swimming for nine days straight and covering a distance of 426 miles.  Think about that for a second.  You could not walk 9 days straight, and you do not even want to drive 426 miles.  Swim it?  Unimaginable!

Would Hemmingway Tweet?
J.R. Absher, over at The Outdoor Pressroom, asks a fun question on Ernest Hemingway's 112th birthday. I think not, under the theory that if Leroy Jethro Gibbs does not tweet, neither does Hemingway.  Please discuss.

Remove the Mountains and Put Up Solar Panels?
Could mountaintop removal sites in Kentucky serve as a home for fields of solar panels? I suppose that's one way to put damaged land back to good use.  By one calculation, the 897 square miles of cleared mountaintop in Kentucky could supply nearly 10% of the electricity needed in the entire U.S.!

An Environmental Republican?
In other news coal news, Michael Bloomberg, the Republican mayor of New York, has donated $50 million of his own money to the Sierra Club to help fight coal-fired power plants.

There Are No Feral Dog Packs in America:
There are no feral dog packs in America... or so I have been told.  Nonetheless, The Fayetteville, North Carolina Observor reports that a dog-hunting team has been hired to help help track wild packs in Fayetteville. As many as 150 wild dogs in the city are killing pets and threatening residents, and the city is going to hire a pair of two-person teams with trucks and tranquilizer darts to hunt the dogs which will be darted with a tranquilizer/GPS chip combination "that allow the hunters to find the animals in the woods after the drugs take effect and the animals collapse." Eh? Did I miss a completely new technology being invented?  Gun-fireable GPS units with tranquilizer darts?  I am betting the reporter has invented something here... or the spokesperson for the company doing the shooting of these dogs has.  If there is new tech I have missed, however, let me know in the comments.... it's hard to keep up!

Barbed Wire and Profits:
In the past I have written about the history of barbed wire (yes, there's a dog connection). Now comes a paper from Harvard's Richard Hornbeck that notes the land values connection. As barbed wire dramatically expanded its reach from 1880 to 1900, "counties with the least woodland experienced substantial relative increases in settlement, land improvement, land values, and the productivity and production share of crops most in need of protection" due to the sudden availability of cheap fencing.

No More Pugs to China!
Pugs may have come from China once upon a time, but there's no going back now that Cathay Pacific Airlines has banned brachycephalic breeds due to concerns these short-nosed animals have an increased risk of breathing problems and overheating due to the stress of flying. Shit-Zoos are no longer welcome at Cathay, and neither are Pekingese, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and Boxers. Most American airlines no longer take brachy dogs in cargo (though some will take them in winter), and neither does Singapore Airlines. More to follow no doubt!

A Gay Dog Show?
That seems a little redundant.  It's not like any of them are totally straight (and no there's nothing wrong with that). And they're not not going to physically exclude heteros (heaven for fend!), so this just seems like a fundraising gimmick designed to institutionalized gay separateness while saluting overt discrimination in the name of rosette chasing.  In short, nothing new here!

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Beyond the Prison Planet


Heather Houlihan at the Raised by Wolves blog has a brilliant little photo essay up entitled Not Your Stick.  Read the whole thing.

This a post about how old dogs teach young dogs, about reading dog behavior, and about inter-canine communication. Good stuff!

I was bird-dogged to Heather's post just moments after responding to an email asking me whether I thought there was some genetic slippage in dogs as far as dog-to-dog communication was concerned. So many show dogs seemed somewhat infantalized in their behavior, while the working dogs were generally more serious and self-purposed. Could this be a genetic issue? Were modern dogs losing their ability to communicate as natural dogs?

Hmmmm. A new question requiring new thought! My answer, for what it's worth (and see your receipt for the price charged!):

A good question, but I am afraid I do not know enough to have an answer.

Observationally, I would agree that some breeds of dogs never really mature emotionally, often remaining quite dependent, playful and goofy into pretty advanced age. Others are much more independent, less playful and serious from a very early age. Konrad Lorenz talked about this, noting that the more serious dogs tended to be "one man" or "one woman" dogs with strong loyalties to particular individuals, while the other type were more "emotional sluts" (not Lorenz's term!) that would quickly give themselves over to just about anyone for a belly rub and a piece of kibble.

I would also agree that a lot of dogs seem to have bad communication skills, either sending the wrong signals or not understanding those they receive from other dogs. But is this genetics or socialization? I am not sure, but let me make an observation and offer up a thought experiment....

The observation is that so many dogs these days live "prison planet" lives.

Now the thought experiment: flip the scenario around.

Suppose a small boy or girl, age three months, is brought to live alone in a cave tied to a large fenced yard. He shares the cave and yard with five or six dogs, but other than that, he only communicates with other people on those brief occasions when he is allowed to leave the yard and can actually interact with them. Will this boy learn the language of humans with so little contact in such truncated circumstances? What will this child act like? This adult? This old man?

When we talk about poor socialization, we tend to mean dogs that are overly fearful or aggressive towards other dogs and other people. But I think poor socialization just as often expresses itself in another way -- dogs that are SO in need of canine contact, and so inarticulate in "dog speak" that, when put before other dogs, they are like long-term foreign prison camp survivors swarming over their liberators, crying and laughing, pawing at their pockets and kissing their feet as they try to get their cracked vocal chords to work again and remember the word for "thank you" in their almost forgotten mother tongue. And these are men who were captured as adults and after only a few years as captives! Imagine how bad it might be if you were taken to a prison planet -- a suburban home -- as a child.

It is indeed a lucky young dog that gets to meet -- and get instructed -- by an older dog like Cole who, ironically enough, was a Prison Planet dog once himself -- a survivor of the great Montana English Shepherd rescue.  Nice job paying it forward, Cole.  Good doggy!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Man its a hot one...



Man it's a hot one,
Like seven inches from the midday sun...

Happy Birthday to Carlos Santana, age 64. In 1969, at age 22, he played Woodstock before he even had a record contract or had cut an album. Today, Rolling Stone magazine counts Santana as one of the top 15 guitarists of all time.
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pedophiles, Puppy Peddlers & Collateral Damage


Donald McCaig, border collie man, sheep man, Virginian, celebrated novelist, defender of working dogs, poet, essayist, and author of the New York Times best sellers, Eminent Dogs and Dangerous Men and Rhett Butler's People, writes of yesterday's post about Sick Puppies and Broken Dogs in which I note that the hierarchies of the Kennel Club and the Catholic Church have a lot in common when it comes to winking at systematic abuse:

I think Patrick has an analogy that is apt. When we Border Collie people tried to convince the AKC that conformation breeding would destroy the sheepdog's working ability and, hence, change the breed into something else, we were astonished that they didn't care. At first I thought they were entirely indifferent to dog well being - only after a long time (and long struggle) did I understand that their belief in the value of conformation breeding and showing was quasi religious - a matter of faith.

And what we faced wasn't -as we had thought - a simple matter of informing them what the certain consequences would be once they started breeding Border Collies by quite different standards - we had a theological dispute.

We knew the show bred Border Collie would become, after several generations, unable to do its traditional work. They believed they were taking a rough piece of doggy clay and "refining" it so it might accompany the gentlefolk anywhere.

The AKC's obliviousness to the harm they have done is analogous to the harm the Catholic church has done, but it's important to realize that they didn't create that harm because they were the spawn of Satan or dumb as rocks.

The Catholic church believes that all souls are redeemable - that every compulsive pedophile can confess his sins, ask for God's help, and stop buggering choirboys.

This is an core tenet of almost every Christian church. Yes, you can be saved. Go and sin no more. Sure the church had venial motives for protecting priests but, BY ITS OWN BELIEFS, it was also protecting the priests' immortal souls. Those choirboys were collateral damage.

So too the AKC. If a few dogs are malformed for the showring, if the cost in dog/owner suffering is very high, look at all the handsome, refined breeds that DON'T have health problems. Wouldn't you like to own an improved canine aristocrat? Genetically compromised breeds are collateral damage.

Those of us who think the damage is more important than the successes can learn a lesson from Rev. Harold Camping's congregation.

Most of us imagine that predicting the end of the world, and the world not ending, is a a deal breaker. But most of the Rev's congregation still attends, pays their tithes, and believe Rev Camping's a prophet. End of the world? Well, nobody gets it right all the time!

A recent study of such congregations (can't remember where I read it) noted that the "deal breaker" for most of us (End of the world, buggered choirboys, bulldogs unable to breathe) is a minor glitch to true believers. (Eric Hoffer is still pertinent). The True Believer is surrounded by other True Believers and to abandon the core beliefs (redeemability of souls, betterment of breeds, the validity of prophecy) is to enter the unfriendly, incomprehensible darkness where decent people dare not venture.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sick Puppies and Broken Dogs

Steve Dean is the new Chairman of the Kennel Club.
Art by Kevin Brockbank, for the August 2011 issue of  Dogs Today

It's Time To Stop Praying
at the Church of the Kennel Club.

I have a low tolerance for whiners and professional victims, and it comes out two ways in the world of dogs.

The most common way is in a kind of “compassion fatigue” for people who do not do serious research when it comes to buying dog.

If you bought a dog at a pet store or from an ad out of the back of a newspaper, and everything did not work out for you, please do not come complaining to me!

Ditto if you are the kind of person who got a Boston terrier or an English bulldog that cannot breathe, a dachshund with a back problem, or a show line German shepherd that walks like a drunk exiting a bar after midnight.

What part of “read a book,” “be a consumer,” and “this is an important decision” did you not understand?

On the other end of the stick, are the folks breeding and selling diseased and defective dogs with fabricated histories and contrived standards.

The world is no longer saluting your nonsense? Boo hoo! Let me pour you a big pot of pity and never mind the dogs!


Where Do Dogs Come From?

The good news is that the world is not chock full of fools.

In the U.S., more than half of all dogs are mixed breeds of some kind, and almost none of these are overly extreme in appearance or deeply inbred genetically.

Of the 47 percent of American dogs that are purebred, only 25 percent are registered with the American Kennel Club — the rest are not registered at all, are registered with a breed-specific registry, or hold paper from some other registry.

To put it another way, 87 percent of American dogs are not registered with the AKC

In the United Kingdom, two-thirds of all dogs are said to be purebred, but this number is a bit deceptive as the number two and number three breeds, in terms of popularity, are the Jack Russell terrier and the border collie.

These two “breeds” are really types, bred for function rather than for show. The owners of these dogs have never been too finicky about closing the gate on their respective gene pools.

If the dog works like a Jack Russell terrier or a border collie, and looks like one, then it’s pure enough. Oh, you have a piece of paper? Excellent, but I am not sure the fox or the sheep much care!

If you add the border collie and the Jack Russell terrier to the “not bred within a closed registry” tally, the non-pedigree population of dogs in the U.K comes within striking distance of what we see in the United States.

What about dogs bred within the closed registry systems of the Kennel Club?

The story here is mixed.

Some breeds, such as beagles, are quite healthy. Others are burdened by genetic problems, such as skin allergies, which may cause a lifetime of misery. Many have decent, if somewhat shortened, lives up until a few weeks or months prior to their death due to cancer, liver, or kidney disease. Quite a large number of Kennel Club dogs live to ripe old age with grey muzzle and rheumy eyes. In truth, most Kennel Club dogs are reasonably healthy, and only about two dozen breeds are so wrecked as to require a caution flag under any and all circumstances. What’s amazing is that these broken breeds still sell!


Failed Consumers Buy Defective Corporate Products

To be clear, there’s no shortage of crap breeds being produced by the Kennel Club. On this score I pull no punches. If you are buying a Pekingese, a pug, a cavalier, a Dogue De Bordeaux, an English bulldog or any of about two dozen other breeds I can rattle off in short order, you are simply a fool the same as someone buying a model of car famous for shoddy workmanship and dodgy design. You would never buy a car based solely on a dealer’s brochure, would you?

Yet people buy dogs all the time after doing little more than reading a Kennel Club sales brochure or an all-breed picture book, somehow oblivious to the fact that Kennel Club breeds are simply corporate products manufactured under license and with approved (if defective) standards.

It is sad, but true, that most folks spend more time planning their vacations than they do reading up on the health, training, temperament and exercise needs of a dog they hope to spend the next 15 years with.

And yet how often do we give these shoddy consumers a pass when they get a dog that is diseased, defective or unsuitable?

Too often!

Why? Has extending sympathy to such people helped the dogs? Not from what I can tell; in fact, quite the opposite. Too often these same people turn around and simply buy another dog of the same breed.

Is there a better definition of insanity than doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result? If so, I have not heard it!

The time has come for a new approach – a kind of tough love. The simple truth is that stupid consumers and willful ignorants are not victims, they are participants in systematic canine abuse.

We are supposed to pity poor Harriet because she bought a Pekingese that cannot breath and now has to pay for expensive soft palette surgery for her dog? How about if we shun her instead?


Pedophiles and Puppies

In fact, how about if we treat everyone who owns a Kennel Club dog a bit like someone who announces they are Catholic?

You are Catholic, eh?

There is a pause. Both sides know what is being thought; now the only question is whether it will actually be said.

“What are your thoughts on the pedophilia?” you might ask. “Have you thought about changing churches, especially now that you have children?

How rude, some may say.

Really?

You think it rude to ask how -- in a world where there are a thousand ways to salute God -- someone would choose to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a church hierarchy that winks at child buggery and has shied away from naming the problem and finding solutions for hundreds of years?

I guess we differ there!

But is it any different in the world of dogs?

When pressed about the physical abuse and pain heaped on dogs by extreme standards, and the systematic inbreeding of dogs within a closed registry system, the Kennel Club is quick to blame “the Victorians.” There is little they can do to change things quickly, they explain. It will take time. Reform will be slow. But good news; they have created an advisory committee of show dog breeders to point the way forward!

Right. And the Vatican has also put the question of what to do about pederasty to a group of celibate old men who think it perfectly fine to wear dresses to the office.

What? You are making a parallel between the Kennel Club and the Vatican? That’s outrageous!

Really? Which side have I offended?

And, of course the parallels go on.

When asked about pedophilia, the Catholic Church routinely claims such problems are quite localized. Yes, Saint Anthony’s church had “that problem,” but the Church is in “this world” and “not immune” from “such things.”

Now we know the truth: child buggery in the Catholic Church is a global problem and has gone on for centuries.

In fact, it has been so chronic and systematic that the Vatican has had a “pedophile referee” at the Vatican for decades.

That man is now the Pope.

But again, is any of this different from what we see at the Kennel Club?

The problems associated with extreme exaggeration or “selection for defect” are not new and neither are the diseases and illnesses associated with inbreeding.

These problems are not confined to one breed or one country, but cut across many breeds and many countries.

And who is the new Pope at the Kennel Club? What faces are we to see in the College of Cardinals choosing the way forward for the Church of the Kennel Club?

Why, none other than an unbroken phalanx of show dog breeders!


Vote With Your Feet… and Your Wallet

Do I think change is possible?

Absolutely.

In fact, I know change is possible for both the Kennel Club and the Catholic Church.

But neither side will see the light until they have first felt the heat.

Things will not change until the pews are bare and the collection plates are empty.

The way forward is not just to yell at the Kennel Club or to yell at the Church: it’s to vote with your feet and your wallet.

If you are buying a Kennel Club dog or attending a dog show, you are part of the problem, same as the Catholic Church parishioner who throws his fiver into the plate every Sunday morning, and who marches his child to alter boy practice on Tuesday and Thursday.

A victim? I think not. A participant!

_ _ _ A version of this piece appears in the August issue of Dogs Today
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Monday, July 18, 2011

You Call That a Watchdog?


Bernie Madoff stole $60 billion because the SEC could not see past its nose.

The economy tanked under the subprime banking fiasco because the SEC could not find a hotdog if given season tickets to Yankee Stadium.

So what is Congress' response to all this?

Believe it or not, it's to cut the enforcement budget of the SEC while giving a $200 million cushion to the liars, cheats and thieves on Wall Street.

From The New York Times come this excellent analysis from Daniel Rosenbaum:

The economy is still suffering from the worst financial crisis since the Depression, and widespread anger persists that financial institutions that caused it received bailouts of billions of taxpayer dollars and haven’t been held accountable for any wrongdoing. Yet the House Appropriations Committee has responded by starving the agency responsible for bringing financial wrongdoers to justice — while putting over $200 million that could otherwise have been spent on investigations and enforcement actions back into the pockets of Wall Street.

A few weeks ago, the Republican-controlled appropriations committee cut the Securities and Exchange Commission’s fiscal 2012 budget request by $222.5 million, to $1.19 billion (the same as this year’s), even though the S.E.C.’s responsibilities were vastly expanded under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Charged with protecting investors and policing markets, the S.E.C. is the nation’s front-line defense against financial fraud. The committee’s accompanying report referred to the agency’s “troubled past” and “lack of ability to manage funds,” and said the committee “remains concerned with the S.E.C.’s track record in dealing with Ponzi schemes.” The report stressed, “With the federal debt exceeding $14 trillion, the committee is committed to reducing the cost and size of government.”

But cutting the S.E.C.’s budget will have no effect on the budget deficit, won’t save taxpayers a dime and could cost the Treasury millions in lost fees and penalties. That’s because the S.E.C. isn’t financed by tax revenue, but rather by fees levied on those it regulates, which include all the big securities firms.

A little-noticed provision in Dodd-Frank mandates that those fees can’t exceed the S.E.C.’s budget. So cutting its requested budget by $222.5 million saves Wall Street the same amount, and means regulated firms will pay $136 million less in fiscal 2012 than they did the previous year, the S.E.C. projects....

... Given the magnitude of the S.E.C.’s task, Congress could make Wall Street firms pay more and not less to police the mess they helped create. A government that wants to hold wrongdoers’ feet to the fire and prevent future abuses could finance an S.E.C. enforcement surge analogous to the military’s strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress could fully finance the S.E.C.’s requested $1.4 billion — and add another $100 million for technology spending. The $1.5 billion would be paid entirely through fees. Financing the S.E.C. adds nothing to the federal deficit and, on the contrary, will help reduce it. It is an investment that would most likely generate increased fines and penalties that could be returned to defrauded investors and taxpayers.

Who is to blame for the sorry state we are in?

Congress, Congress, Congress.

So long as Congressional elections are funded by big business, we are going to have Payola Politics of the first order.

This is a war, in which Wall Street has decimated Main Street, yet Congress has just chosen to re-arm the folks who took 20% of the value of your house, 20% of the value of your 401-K, and which left one in five Americans unemployed.

Remember in November 2012!!
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Buck Deer In Velvet Last Night


This is in my front yard, where the fox normally visit.   The deer normally come to drink from the small goldfish pond in the back -- and to eat my hosta's of course.
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Healthy Fox Last Night



The Mange Fox Visited Last Night

From the camera in my front yard:





Click to enlarge pictures.

One thing you can clearly see in these pictures is how long a fox's tail really is!
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Electronic Cancer?

Personal boundaries.

When I was a kid, it was just a black and white TV and three channels. Then we had a single color TV and rabbit ears for PBS. Then the cable came, and it was four televisions with 125 channels and NetFlix too.

The computer arrived as an electronic typewriter with a monochrome screen and a dot matrix printer. Then came the modem, the graphics-based browsers, blogs, YouTube, and a never-ending juke box.

The cell phone started out as something that made expensive phone calls, then they added text messages, 500 newspapers, 100 magazines, television, radio, an endless feed from Google Reader, and GPS with turn-by-turn mapping and voice directions.

What started out as the World Wide Web is now the Wild Wild West.

We were invaded, then we were enveloped and now we are being consumed. 

How many of us are spending 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, or more hours a day staring at electronic screens, whether it's a computer, a cell phone, or a TV?  How many of read and send emails in traffic?

Some are happy that the electronic frontier remains unfenced, yet I cannot help but notice that, in a world without fences, we seem to be spending a heck of a lot of time riding the range, chasing down one thing or chasing out another.

We are addicts, with a love-hate relationship with this electronic needle. 

One thing seem clear to me: we, as a society, cannot continue in this direction at this velocity.  Something has to give.

Cowboy Facebook.
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Seven for Sunday


Posts from the Last Week:

Game Changers


Lol Cats Afghanistan with the speed of light:
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Losing Nature

“Worldwide we are estranged from nature.  Over half of the world’s population is now urbanised which means that more than one person in two is to some degree cut off from the natural world. There will be some people who do not see a wild creature from one day to the next – unless it is a rat or a pigeon – and they aren’t wild.... If you are not very careful, the natural world is something you do on your holidays – you visit a nature reserve in the summer here or overseas and that is the end of it. But it is not like that. The natural world is around us all the time in our houses and gardens. And it is not just a question of standing back and looking at it in a passive way; it is about getting involved in an active way and that transforms your attitude.”
. . . . - Sir David Attenborough
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Owney the Postal Terrier Gets a Stamp


Remember the story of Owney, the taxidermied postal terrier?  No?  Well, the story is here, and it's a pretty good one -- so good, in fact, that a taxidermied Owney is on display at the Postal Museum here in Washington, D.C., and now the U.S. Postal Service is putting out a "forever stamp" (for 44 cents it will always be good to send a letter anywhere in the U.S., no matter what happens with rates in the future).

Owney Forver.  Perfect! 

The official release event for the stamp is Wednesday, July 27, 2011, from 11 am – 12 pm at the Postal Museum atrium in Washington, D.C.  

For more information about Owney, see this nice web site loaded with information and put together for the postal celebration.
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You Put Pictures of Your Weiner on the Internet?


Putting pictures of your weiner on the Internet was old school back in 2007 when this T-shirt was designed.  Now it's a hip article of clothing and biting (sorry) non-partisan political mockery.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nothing Is Certain But Death and Bad Taxidermy

Lion

Red Fox

Red Fox

Fell Terrier?

Monkey

These pictures are from a Danish fellow who has created a Facebook page that brings us “Dårligt udstoppede dyr,” or “Badly Stuffed Animals.”

Taxidermied freak.
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Ivermectin to Lower Malaria Rates?


An inexpensive and safe deworming medicine that has been used on dogs and livestock all over the world for more than 25 years can kill mosquitoes.

The medicine is Ivermectin, and it's a wonderfully effective and cheap medicine for heartworm.

Ivermectin remains effective inside an animal or human body for about a month, and it turn out that when all the humans in a region plagued by malaria take this low-dose insectide, the incidence of malaria can drop by 80%.  As The New York Times notes:

They vacuumed mosquitoes from the walls of huts in three villages whose inhabitants had recently been given Ivermectin and three whose had not, and tested to see how many mosquitoes contained malaria parasites.

The Ivermectin villages had almost 80 percent fewer.

The drug was shortening the mosquitoes’ lives, explained the lead author, Brian D. Foy, a Colorado State mosquito expert. Only older insects transmit malaria, since they must get it from humans first.

Of course, more research to be done. Dosing a human life for 80 years is not the same equation as dosing a dog for 12, and getting everyone to take Ivermectin may be impossible, so mosquito nets will always have a place, but still... pretty interesting.
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Dog Sharks Vs Shark Dog



What would be impressive is if it returned it to hand.
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Hope and Sadness in the Back Yard

I have not had the camera in the yard in quite a while for the simplest and stupidest of reasons -- the batteries needed replacing and I simply never got around to doing it.

With new batteries in hand, and a complete change of season or two, I set up the camera trap last night, and took the pictures below.



And then this poor fellow wandered into the frame.




This is a very advanced case of sarcoptic mange.

In the first picture he shows up in, you can see the ear of one of my healthy fox in the lower left corner. The healthy fox exited the immediate area when this fellow showed up, but they came back into the frame when he left.

Mange in fox is very common, and if the problem is not too far gone it can generally be fixed with nothing more than food.

I have successfully treated mange with nothing more than a little extra Purina kibble.  But in a case like this, where it's advanced this far, I think there's no turning back.

This is the part that the people on the couch do not understand; wild animals do not die in hospital beds with morphine drips and Mozart on the stereo. Absent a hunter, they die from vehicle impact, disease, starvation, and predation. In fact, of all the ways that a wild animal can die, death by skilled hunter is the very best. A direct gun shot wound to the head? It is how we ourselves chose to exit this planet more times than we want to think about.

Of course there is more to mange in wild fox than lack of food.  There is a whole story to this disease, so let me set it out.

Sarcoptic mange is caused by a parasitic mite called Sarcoptes scabiei, which burrows into the skin.  Infestations of several thousand mites per square inch are possible.

Scabies mites secrete a yellowish waste that hardens into a thick crust on the skin, causing hair loss and (as the infestation progresses) lacerations and cracking of the skin. Chronic itching can cause the fox to bite and gnaw itself, and the animal can become dazed from pain and lack of sleep. Weight loss from stress can be quite rapid, and organ failure is common. Death usually follows within six months of infestation.

One of the chief causes of mange in wild fox populations is too high a fox density. Mange mites can survive a long period of time in a den, which means that effective mange control requires fox dens to be unoccupied at least one year out of every two.

In areas where fox trapping and hunting is outlawed or discouraged, however, fox population densities will often rise to the point that some dens never lie fallow.  In addition, in areas where fox populations are very high, food availability can be lead to chronic long-term hunger which can undermine the immunity system of a fox.  In such situations mange mites colonize dens and parasitize generation after generation of fox, with a fairly large number of the animals dying horrible and grisly deaths.

Death by mange is a long and nasty torture, and far more cruel than the swift death offered by a hunter's bullet or the swift chop of a working lurcher or hound.

Anyone who truly cares about animal welfare should favor a return to managed population control of animal species that have overshot their carrying capacity. Death is not an option -- all animals die. The only real question is how an animal will die and under what circumstances. Managing wildlife through regulated hunting is a far more humane alternative that death through disease, starvation and vehicle impact.
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