Sunday, August 29, 2004

Extreme Fox Hunting

This is a picture of the Golden Eagle Festival & Competition in Mongolia. The competitors gather on the mountain tops that rise over the plains.

Below, a rider drags the body of a dead fox skin, imitating the movements of a living animal - a perfect lure for the eagle perched on the nearby summit. When the eagle's owner lifts the hood, the eagle's task is to set off in search of it's (false) prey on the ground.

The bird's are judged on their rapidity and prowess, and the trainers on their artistry skills. Hesitancy, slow responses and heads that turn in the opposite direction disqualify the feathered competitors.

The competition mimics what still occurs in the field in Mongolia -- the hunting of red fox with Golden Eagles.

Friday, August 27, 2004

The Collarum, Humane Canine Capture Trap

The Collarum is a new type of live trap that is designed to capture canines (coyote, fox, feral dog, wolf, etc.) by throwing a cable loop over their head and around their neck. It literaly "collars them" to an anchor in the ground.

The design of the Collarum is unique in that the trigger mechanism is canine-specific -- it is activated by the canine tugging on a bait, not pressing on it. The company says that the only animals caught by the Collarum have been canines -- no skunks, badgers, feral cats, or raccoons.

The second unique part of the Collarum is that unlike a regular snare, this device can be set in open ground, as the snare is literally catapulted up over the animal's head -- it does not require the animal to walk through a very narrow gap in a hedge or fence like a regular snare.

The manufacturer claims the Collarum is more effective and humane than other types of traps. Regular snares are not terribly selective, and offset jaw leghold traps can strike an animal wrong in some situations. Box traps are very difficult to trap canines in, as they generally will not enter unless they are very large, are very well-disguised, and are regularly baited for weeks.

The most common injury with a Collarum snare trap occurs with coyotes, as they are large and will fight the "leash" by biting on it. In a study conducted by the Predator Research division of the National Wildlife Research Center, Dept. of Agriculture, (Texas, Feb. 1999), 70% of coyotes caught showed no significant injuries, while the most prevalent damage was to the teeth in approximately 1 of every 5 animals. Most dogs and fox sustain substantially less damage because they fought the leash less than coyotes. For more information and a video, click here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A Small Day


Sunday was a small day in the field with Beth K, with one groundhog bolted up a tree and another groundhog dug to under the roots of a black cherry tree. This last groundhog was very well positioned, but after a little sawing and a little digging we got to him.

The dogs located in a field sette at the beginning of the day, but due to a defective collar we could not locate the groundhog until the dog came up and we switched out the collar. By the time the dog got back into the pipe the groundhog had dug away and we could not relocate it in the soft dirt.

In the pic above, Beth demonstrates the most important attribute of a working terrier: an owner that will take the dog out into the field for a little work.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Ferret Leggers


This is from the November 1992 edition of Harper's magazine.

I have heard these stories before, though previous versions have a rat and a ferret inserted in the pants, and a "battle to the death" ensuing with a dozen drinks being the wager for the taker.

I have little doubt that this kind of thing only happens when preceeded by a successful night-time snipe hunt. It is a good story all the same, and who knows (?) it may be true. The world is full of madness.

--------------------------- article follows ------------------------------

Mr. Reg Mellor, the "king of the ferret-leggers," paced across his tiny Yorkshire miner's cottage as he explained the rules of the English sport that he has come to dominate rather late in life. "Ay, lad," said the seventy-two-year-old champion, "no jockstraps allowed. No underpants -- nothin` whatsoever. And it's no good with tight trousers, mind ye. Little bah-stards have to be able to move around inside there from ankle to ankle."

Basically, ferret-legging involves the tying of a competitor's trousers at the ankles and the insertion into those trousers of a couple of peculiarly vicious fur-coated, foot-long carnivores called ferrets.

The brave contestant's belt is then pulled tight, and he proceeds to stand there in front of the judges as long as he can, while animals with claws like hypodermic needles and teeth like number 16 carpet tacks try their damnedest to get out.

From a dark and obscure past, the sport has made an astonishing comeback in recent years. When I first heard about ferret-legging, in 1972, the world record stood at forty painful seconds of "keepin' 'em down," as they say in ferret-legging circles. A few years later the dreaded one-minute mark was finally surpassed. The current record -- implausible as it may seem -- now stands at an awesome five hours and twenty-six minutes, a mark reached last year by the gaudily tattooed little Yorkshireman with the waxed military mustache who now stood two feet away from me explaining the technicalities of this burgeoning sport.

"The ferrets must have a full mouth o' teeth," Reg Mellor said as he fiddled with his belt., "No filing of the teeth; no clipping. No dope for you or the ferrets. You must be sober, and the ferrets must be hungry-- though any ferret'll eat yer eyes out even if he isn't hungry. So then, lad. Any more questions 'fore I poot a few down for ye?"

"Yes, Reg."

"Ay, whoot then?"

"Well, Reg," I said. "I think people in America will want to know. Well -- since you don't wear any protection -- and, well, I've heard a ferret can bite your thumb off. Do they ever -- you know?"

Reg's stiff mustache arched toward the ceiling under a sly grin. "You really want to know what they get up to down there, eh?" Reg said, looking for all the world like some workingman's Long John Silver. "Well, take a good look." Then Reg Mellor let his trousers fall around his ankles.

A short digression: a word is in order concerning ferrets, a weasel-like animal well known to Europeans but, because of the near extinction of the black-footed variety in the American West, not widely known in the United States. Alternatively referred to by professional ferret handlers as "shark-of-the-land," a "piranha with feet," "fur-coated evil, " and "the only four-legged creature in existence that kills just for kicks," the common domesticated ferret -- Mustela putorius -- has the spinal flexibility of a snake and the jaw musculature of a pit bull.

Rabbits, rats, and even frogs run screaming from hiding places when confronted by a ferret.

Ferreters -- those who hunt with ferrets, as opposed to putting them in their pants -- tell tales of rabbits running toward hunters to surrender after gazing into the torch-red eyes of an oncoming ferret.

Loyal to nothing that lives, the ferret has only one characteristic that might be deemed positive -- a tenacious, single-minded belief in finishing whatever it starts. That usually entails biting off whatever it bites. The rules of ferret-legging do allow the leggers to try to knock the ferret off a spot it's biting (from outside the trousers only), but that is no small matter, as ferrets never let go. No less a source than the Encyclopedia Britannica suggests that you can get a ferret to let go by pressing a certain spot over its eye, but Mellor and the other ferret specialists I talked to say that is absurd. Reg favors a large screwdriver to get a ferret off his finger. Another ferret legger told me that a ferret that had almost dislodged his left thumb let go only after the ferret and the man's thumb were held under scalding tap water -- for ten minutes.

Reg Mellor, a man who has been more intimate with ferrets than many men have been with their wives, calls ferrets "cannibals, things that live only to kill, that'll eat your eyes out to get at your brain" at their worst and "untrustworthy" at their very best.

Reg says he observed with wonder the growing popularity of ferret-legging throughout the '70s. He had been hunting with ferrets in the verdant moors and dales outside of Barnsley for much of a century. Since a cold and wet ferret exterminates with a little less enthusiasm than a dry one, Reg used to keep his ferrets in his pants for hours when he hunted in the rain -- and it always rained where he hunted.

"The world record was sixty seconds. Sixty seconds! I can stick a ferret up me ass for longer than that."

So, at age sixty-nine, Reg Mellor found his game. As he stood in front of me now, naked from the waist down, Reg looked every bit a champion.

"So look close," he said again.

I did look, at an incredible tattoo of a zaftig woman on Reg's thigh. His legs appeared crosshatched with scars. But I refused to "look close."

"Come on, Reg," I said. "Do they bite your -- you know?"

"Do they!" he thundered with irritation as he pulled up his pants. "Why, I've had 'em hangin' from me tool for hours an' hours an' hours! Two at a time -- one on each side. I been swelled up big as that!" Reg pointed to a five-pound can of instant coffee.

I then made the mistake of asking Reg Mellor if his age allowed him the impunity to be the most daring ferret legger in the world. "And what do ye mean by that?" he said.

"Well, I thought since you probably aren't going to have any more children --"

"Are you sayin' I ain't pokin' 'em no more?" Reg growled with menace. "Is that your meaning? 'Cause I am pokin' 'em for sure."

A small red hut sits in an overgrown yard outside Reg Mellor's door. "Come outta there, ye bah-stards," Reg yelled as he flailed around the inside of the hut looking for some ferrets that had just arrived a few hours earlier. He emerged with two dirty white animals, which he held quite firmly by their necks. They both had fearsome unblinking eyes as hard and red as rubies.

A young man named Malcolm, with a punk haircut, came into the yard on a motorcycle. "You puttin' 'em down again, Reg?" Malcolm asked.

Reg took one of the ferrets and stuck the beasts head deep into his mouth.

"Oh yuk, Reg," said Malcolm.

Reg pulled the now quite embittered-looking ferret out of his mouth and stuffed it and another ferret into his pants. He cinched his belt tight, clenched his fists at his sides, and gazed up into the gray Yorkshire firmament in what I guessed could only be a gesture of prayer. Claws and teeth now protruded all over Reg's hyperactive trousers. The two bulges circled round and round one leg, getting higher and higher, and finally...they went up over to the other leg.

"Thank God, " I said.

"Yuk, Reg," said Malcolm.

"The claws," I managed. "Aren't they sharp, Reg?"

"Ay," said Reg, laconically. "Ay."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Hurricane? Let's Dig!

Two fewer groundhogs on Nick's

Went out Sunday and had a good time with the dogs. A tropical storm was supposed to hit, and a hurricane right behind it, but instead we got a very little bit of rain on Saturday and cool weather on Sunday as the storm blew off on to the Eastern Shore -- a very unexpected windfall.

After coordinating at 7 am, Beth K. and I met near some farms I have permission on and we were soon digging on a groundhog up in a dry ridge. This was a very shallow and quick dig in the shale, and we ended up snaring a 10 pounder as it exited. We took a picture of it and released it -- we may see him in October when he's a bit bigger. This one was to Sailor's credit -- first dog in on this day.

Pip on a big groundhog.

The next dig was a few hundred yards away in field sette with very large pipes. Beth's dog, Pip, went in and bayed up a storm but took a savage gash across the muzzle. The dog stayed working, however, and after digging down a bit I dazed the groundhog with the bar when it poked its head out (a head as tough as an iron skillet). It quickly retreated, but Pip continued to work it towards the hole. We opened up the pipe a bit and pulled Pip when we got the hole a bit wider. Mountain eventually drew the groundhog out dead. This groundhog was pretty big -- 13 pounds officially weighed, and with a 15 inch chest. Pip gets all the credit for staying on it -- Mountain did nothing but body recovery.

Pip was pretty ripped, so we went back to the truck, cleaned out his gash, dosed him with a double hit of cephelaxin, and kenneled him up with the other dogs we had out, swapping out the two larger dogs for two smaller terriers Beth had with her.

We took a tour of the woods near the creek and found nothing, but the dogs entered along a corn field on the bottom side of the farm. Mountain entered the pipe just as I came up to the sette, and a groundhog busted out of the other end, just inside the corn field, where the other three dogs were jungled up around the exit. The riot was intantaneous, and I scrambled into the corn and sorted things out pretty quickly before any of the dogs got injured. All four of the dogs were in on this one -- a nice team effort and a quarter point for each of them. This groundhog was about 11 pounds I would guess -- about average for this time of year.

Pip with his prize and Mountain wondering where it went.

We went to Tom's farm and all of the dogs found at once in a four or five-eyed sette that tunneled along underneath an old downed tree at the edge of the field. To make a long story short, this groundhog was very large, and Sailor bolted it three times (who knew there was a bolt hole on the other side of that stump?), but we got exhausted before Mr. Groundhog did and decided to fold our hand after the third bolt.

This was a very smart groundhog and a very big too. On the up side, we were halfway back to the truck when I realized both my dogs were still underground. They came out eventually -- Mountain last, and with Sailor pretty pooped for her efforts. Once again the humans quit before the dogs.

The weather was really excellent and Beth was great company and a solid digger. There was no drama on this dig, but we had some good laughs and I will remember that last groundhog for a while. The ones that get away seem to take on a life of their own.

When Pip heals up, I have a very specific groundhog already picked out for him. Any time you're ready Mr. Pip -- any time.

18 Million Prairie Dogs


The black-tailed prairie dog has been dropped from a list of candidates for the federal endangered species list because scientists have concluded the rodents are no longer threatened.

Officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that 18 million prairie dogs live on the Western Plains and no longer require special protection.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Veterinary Pricing Has Nothing to Do With Care

Veterinary pricing has little or nothing to do with veterinary care, as this vet-by-vet review of veterinarians and prices in the Washington, D.C. Metro area makes clear. Note that this is a long PDF file and may take some time to load.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Victorian Curiosities


Along with dogs, taxidermy was a bit of the rage during the Victorian era,
and it was natural that they would meet somewhere. The card, below, says of the dog "Nimble": "There was no better Ratter in all Basingstoke."


Thursday, August 12, 2004

The End of the Game?

Red fox, a species that Australian scientists would like to wipe out.

Scientists are looking at ways that genetic engineering might be able to help control invasive and pest species by altering the fundamentals of wild animal reproduction.

This research is strongly supported by the Humane Society and other anti-hunting groups across the world. Click here for more information.

One does not have to be a hysteric to see that genetic engineering in the reproductive arena could have a very serious negative impact on wildlife all over the world. The history of humans playing God on Earth is a very ugly one and -- ironically enough -- has often led to invasive species that escaped the "theory" of science and ran amok in the world like Frankenstein.

Scientists, after all, imported the cane toad to Australia as a way of controlling insects in the sugar cane field -- the legacy is poisoned dogs and a country stinking from a billion crushed toad corpses on the highway. The toads did nothing to control insects, by the way, but they have speeded up the death of many small marsupials that have either been poisoned by the toads or eaten by them (the toads are as big as dinner plates and can swallow a sparrow whole).

Scientists said introducing the Indian mongoose onto Caribbean islands would be a good way to control snakes that were decimating native bird populations there. Those same scientists were surprised to learn that the mongoose and the snake kept very different hours in the Caribbean and rarely saw each other -- leading the mongoose to turn to bird eggs and small hatchlings as a source of food. Rather than slow bird loss, mongoose introduction speeded it up!

It was also a scientist who brough the gypsy moth to the U.S. as part of a hair-brained scheme to start a silk worm industry in this country. The actual result, of course, was the destruction of vast stretches of forest.

Full of hubris, some scientists are now pushing genetic engineering as way of eliminating many introduced or "nuisance" species.

Nowhere is this push greater than in Australia where a combination of introduced red fox, feral cats, rabbits, feral dogs, feral pigs, and feral goats are devastating native wildlife and habitat.

In Australia, scientists are looking to introduce genetically modified (GM) carp into the wild. The offspring of the GM carp are all male, and it's hoped that this will help wipe out the invasive European carp that now represent 90 per cent of the fish biomass in the Murray-Darling river system. What's the problem? The most obvious problem is that "daughterless" GM-carp will almost certainly be introduced into other rivers by sport fishermen, and indigenous wild carp populations across the globe may eventually be decimated. Carp are an esstential food source in many parts of the world, especially Asia.

In Australia, scientists are also looking to conduct field trials with a virus that makes European rabbits infertile. Female rabbits infected with a transgenic myxomatosis virus will cause rabbits to produce antibodies against their own eggs, damaging them enough to block fertilization, a process called immunocontraception. Scientists say they will use a "crippled" version of the myxamatosis virus that cannot replicate itself, so that the new immunocontraception virus will not be able to spread from animal to animal (i.e. to all the European rabbits in the world).

What's the problem with viral immunocontraception? One problem is that scientists do not have a terribly good track record guaranteeing sterility. For example, not all of the triploid Grass Carp released into weed-choked golf course ponds in the U.S. turned out to be sterile despite scientists's assurance that they all would be.

Another case of non-sterility occurred when it was found that not all of the "sterile" fruit flies released in California to combat a small outbreak of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly were, in fact, sterile.

Compared to fish and flies, a mistake with a replicating virus would be very difficult to contain. "Woops!" is not a comforting comment to make after you have released a self-replicating immunocontraceptive virus that has wiped out every rabbit on earth.

Rabbits are not the only animal on the docket for control or elimination. Crackpot scientists in Australia are also working on virual immunocontraception for red fox and stoats.

If wiping out all the rabbits and fox in the world is not enough to give you pause, you might think a bit about where this is going. What can be done for rabbits and fox can easily be done for humans. It turns out that the the biology of mammal reproduction is not terribly different from one species to another as far as the zona pellucida protein is concerned.

The zona pellucida is the area where the egg and sperm unite, and which is effected by the genetically-modified virus that the scientists are experimenting with. The transgenic virus can do either of two things -- thicken the wall of the egg so that the sperm bounces off, or shorten the tail on the sperm so that it never reaches the "ramming speed" needed to break through the egg cell wall. Either way, fertilization does not occur.

Of course, a virus that merely left humans infertile may be the least of our worries. In their continuing quest to be helpful, the same Australian scientists working on an immunocontraception viruses for rabbits and mice have announced that a small change made to a "mousepox" virus made it incredibly more virulent and totally resistant to normally effective mousepox vaccines. They note that the same change can also be made to the human smallpox virus, with predictable results.

Thank goodness these insane Australian scientists have announced and published their results so that even less responsible scientists can follow up (see

Who is it pushing this mad science and why? Answer: the animal rights lunatics who oppose hunting and pest control of species that are in superabundance. In the end, they may be the death of us all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Beautiful Black Worker in North Carolina

Beautiful 2 year-old male smooth patterdale. Gorgeous! 12 inches tall and 15 pounds. Jet black with beautiful coat and a tiny spot of white on the chest.

Angus is in North Carolina and he is a really nice-looking dog. He needs a WELL FENCED yard and preferably a home where someone is around most of the time. He is housebroken and knows basic obedience. He needs a new home because he has worried a few sheep and is in the neighbor's cross hairs as a consequence.

This is a good dog in a situation that needs changing, and this is a terrific chance for someone to get a quality animal. If you have a good home for this black beauty, contact Andrew at 408-206-7826 - Contact me if you want to talk someone who has Angus-sired dogs or knows Andrew. If I had room at the house, this dog might very well be coming home with me.

A Hawk-Eye View of Your Farms


It's a useful thing to have an aerial map of the farms you work, especially when talking with a farmer about his property or adjoining fields.

For free aerial pictures and topographics maps of your farms (or your house) click on the link below:,0

Enter your farm's zip code to get the approximate location and zoom in and out from there.

You can save the shot by right-clicking and you can print them out as well. Another source is: Enter any address in the U.S., and you can see it from the air, and zoom in with some detail. To get a photo here, however, you have to pay a small fee.

Knowing where water and woods are in relation to field crops, roads, and outbuildings can often give you an idea of where fox and racoon may be bunkered up.

I keep my permissions and aerial maps together, taped up underneath the lid of my veterinary box which is always in the car when I hunt the dogs.

Wrestle Drainia


From today's edition of Newsday (New York)


Dog rescued from drainpipe

Like many of his Stony Brook neighbors, Marty dislikes raccoons. But while residents in his neighborhood find the masked critters annoying because they knock over garbage cans, Marty, a 7-year-old Jack Russell terrier, tends to get into brawls with them.

When Marty disappeared from his backyard Monday afternoon, his owner, Austin Skerritt, 13, figured the feisty dog was stalking a raccoon, as he had done in the past, and would eventually find his way back to their Night Heron Drive home.

At about 5 p.m., Austin and his friend Tyler Brennan, also 13, were biking about half a mile away, at Fox Hill Lane and Bailey Hollow Road, when they heard Marty's frantic barks coming from a storm drain.

They called Suffolk police, but were pretty sure Marty would get out easily. Marty had wandered into a storm drain to fight a raccoon last year and a few months ago jumped out of a third- floor window of a Manhattan apartment building and survived with a broken hip, Austin said.

But when officers with the Emergency Services Unit arrived and couldn't immediately get Marty out, the boys began to worry. "He's gotten older and it was really hot out," Austin said.

Neighborhood adults and children watched with suspense as Officers Walter Justinic, 32, and Stephen Tracy, 35, managed to flush Marty out with a fire extinguisher and pull him out with a long pole attached to a noose.

But first, the officers had to corner Marty so he and the raccoon wouldn't get lost in the drain system as they were scrapping. "I could see the raccoon grabbing him and biting him," Justinic said.

About 1 1/2 hours later, the officers were able to lift a wet and dirty Marty to safety. Aside from scratches on his paw, he seemed fine, his owner said. Austin's mother said Marty has had his rabies shots and sees no reason to take him to the vet. The officers said the raccoon, which weighed about 30 pounds, seemed content to remain in the drain.

Michele Hass, 40, one of about 10 neighbors who watched the ordeal, feared the worst. "I thought the raccoon would get him," she said. Another neighbor, Ginny Bushart gushed about how heroic the officers were. "I thought the police officers were such wonderful role models for the young boys."

Rabid Fox Bites Children

From August 11 edition of The Washington Post
Fox Attack Has Neighbors Skittish
3 Herndon Girls Bitten by Animal Start Series of Rabies Vaccinations


It was a hot, quiet afternoon at the Crestview townhouses in Herndon on Monday, so Jacqueline Elliott let the five children at the day care she runs from her home eat popsicles in the back yard.

She won't do that again.

Within minutes, Elliott said yesterday, a "dirty, wild, mangy-looking" fox, its teeth bared, had crawled under her new fence and was dashing toward her charges.

The animal latched onto the legs of one child, then another, while Elliott screamed at the children to run inside. By the time all were inside, the fox had bitten the legs of two children -- Elliott's 7-year-old daughter, Zion, and a 2-year-old -- then fled into the patch of woods behind the complex.

"This was a vicious attack," Elliott said. "He came to do business."

Minutes before, Fairfax County police said, the apparently rabid fox had bitten 5-year-old Madison Randles, who lives a few blocks away from Elliott's home. Police said the fox was likely in the "furious," or final, stages of rabies.

An animal control officer patrolling the neighborhood yesterday afternoon shot and killed an aggressive red fox after spotting it climb out of a sewer vent, said Mary Mulrenan, a police spokeswoman. The dead fox has not yet been tested for rabies, but Mulrenan said it is unlikely that two aggressive foxes would be in the same area.

"We certainly think and hope that it's the same fox," she said.

After the attacks, police had advised residents in the neighborhood, which is just off Herndon Parkway, to keep children and pets inside. Mulrenan said residents could now allow children and pets outside as usual.

All three girls attacked Monday received rabies vaccinations at Reston Hospital Center, Elliott said. Each is taking antibiotics and will have to get four more shots to prevent rabies, a viral disease that can be fatal.

Residents said that foxes are common in the area, where homes back up to dense stretches of trees. But many said the incident was so shocking that the outdoors would be off-limits to their children from now on.

"I told my kids, there's no going outside. It's not safe," said Annie Niungeko, 38, who lives with her five children a few doors down from Elliott.

Her son, 6-year-old Benjamin Kitoka, said he was happy to entertain himself inside yesterday.

Just a few hundred yards across the woods behind the Crestview complex is the Randleses' brick house, where the fox is believed to have paid its first visit shortly before 3 p.m. Monday. Irene Randles, 50, said her granddaughter Madison, her grandson Andrew Keebaugh, 4, and a 3-year-old neighbor had just stepped out of an inflatable pool in the back yard when the fox darted across the yard and lunged toward Madison's stomach.

Irene Randles said she beat the fox off Madison with a pool skimmer and a towel -- and then it came for her.

That's when she wielded a child's chalkboard and a chair, hitting the fox until it took off for the clearing behind their house, she said.

Yesterday, Madison -- the fox's teeth marks concealed under her green T-shirt -- cruised on a pink scooter around the Randleses' driveway, but not before asking her mother, Danette, 23, "Mommy, is the fox out there?"

Irene Randles said she took a big stick with her on a walk, just in case.

The fox attack "does not mean there's a surge in rabies in Northern Virginia," said Michelle Stoll, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Health.

As of Saturday, 284 animals in Virginia had tested positive this year for rabies, including 52 in Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Falls Church. More than half of those in the Fairfax area were raccoons, and nine were foxes, Stoll said.

Elliott, 48, said her day-care charges would be inside for the rest of the summer. "It was that devastating," she said.

But down the street from the Randleses' home, Connie Rambo, 36, took a world-weary view about having a rabid fox on the lam in her neighborhood.

"I don't want my kids to be too afraid of it," she said. "It's lower on my list of worries than . . . gang violence."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Fun in the Fields

Jan B. and I hit the farms on Sunday and we had a blast, digging to one groundhog that was snared and released, and bolting three others -- one up a tree, one to a pair of waiting terriers (quickly and humanely dispatched), and one out of an 8-hole fox sette (bolt unseen, but it happened).

Sailor went deep on another sette and bayed up a storm but at more than 10 feet deep and a lot of scrap iron in the mix (an old boiler, etc.), we didn't even think about digging down to her. She came up in time -- a bit pooped but otherwise unharmed if a bit dejected at the "good for nothing" humans that would not dig down to where she had it bottled up.

The best part of the day was watching Jan's young dogs turn on, and especially her rescue dachshund (see photo at top) who had bolted her first groundhog just two days before. This little weiner dog had a much better voice than you would expect, and a bit of bottle in her too.

The young terriers did great, of course -- nice voices and attitude on all of them, and all "good to go" right out of the box. A very good day for the young dogs, and not too bad for us old dogs either.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Long May It Run

The sequence of pictures, seen above, were shot by Scott Kauffman in Maryland while out winter foxing with Larry Morrison and Jeff McK. Jeff's dog Rita did the work, as the grin on Jeff's face attests. "No animals were harmed in the making of this movie."

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Suburban Coyotes


The Washington Post, July 2, 2004

Coyotes Taking to City Living;
Encounters With Humans -- and Their Pets -- on the Rise


Don't let the cat out. The wily coyote is making himself at home inside the Beltway.

Once a marquee image of the American Southwest, coyotes are no longer strangers to these urban parts
. Their numbers are on the rise in every jurisdiction of Virginia and Maryland, and they have most recently been spotted in Falls Church, state and local wildlife biologists say.

While they have yet to move into the District, the long-snouted, furry-tailed creatures have been sighted as close as Arlington County and Silver Spring. Laura Illige, chief ranger of Rock Creek Park, said that "it's only a matter of time" before coyotes will be seen howling with Washington's famed monuments as a backdrop.

In Falls Church, where several pets have been attacked, city animal control officer Rebecca Keenan is advising residents not to allow cats or small dogs to roam, especially at night.

At the West Falls Church Metro station, a Lhasa apso was set upon by a coyote as the dog was being walked by its owner Monday night. The man was able to protect the dog by throwing rocks at the coyote to scare it off, Keenan said.

Nearby, a cat was killed in front of its owner in late May by a pair of coyotes. The woman screamed and thought she had scared them off, but they circled around the house and went after her other two cats in the back yard. She was able to get those pets inside.

Since then, the city's animal control office has received reports of coyote sightings almost every day, Keenan said.

The population growth of the coyote, an animal Native Americans call the Trickster, will likely force humans to adapt to the presence of the animals rather than the other way around, local and state officials say.

"We feel like citizens should be aware that they are here to stay," Keenan said. "We have extraordinarily diverse wildlife in this area. You'd be surprised at what's running around."

Bill Brew, who lives on the border of Falls Church and Arlington, said he was brushing his teeth in his downstairs bathroom one morning last week when he saw a pair trot right up to the window.

"One was 10 feet away looking in the window right at me, and I was thinking, 'Hello,' " he said. "They looked like a couple of scrawny dogs."

People are rarely the targets of coyotes, although rabid coyotes will attack. They usually contract rabies from hunting infected raccoons and bats. The only known human assault in Virginia in the past five years was in New Kent County in January 2003. In that case, a man riding a lawn mower was attacked by a rabid coyote weighing about 50 pounds, large for a coyote. After kicking it away several times, the man was able to get his shotgun and shoot the animal as it chased him to his front porch, state records say.

State wildlife biologists say the coyotes in the Washington region are nearly twice the size of their cousins in the Southwest and can run up to 35 mph. Virtually nonexistent in this area 20 years ago, they already seem to be losing their fear of humans.

"It does appear they have adapted to urban environments," said Dan Lovelace, a Virginia wildlife biologist. He added that residents should be careful not to leave pet food outside and should be sure to secure garbage can lids "to prevent that acclimation to humans."

Coyotes possess a wealth of hunting skills. They look like wolves, are much stronger than foxes and can silently sneak up on their prey and then pounce, like a cat. Wildlife biologists say they are highly adaptable and can eat up to 100 kinds of food, including insects, pets, grass, fruits and even shoe leather.

Some local residents view them as vermin and are calling for their eradication. That, though, might be impossible, Keenan said. Coyotes are too smart for leg traps, and it would hardly be safe to allow hunters to shoot them in city streets, she said.

"It would be like saying you need to get rid of all the raccoons in the area," she said. "I mean, how do you do that? It's hard."

The Irish In America


An adolescent coyote. Back in August of 2003 Wendy Palmer of Thistleridge Kennels in Missouri got a new Lakeland hand-delivered by Dessi Mackin from Ireland. They went out looking to dig badger in 100 degree heat in Nebraska, but found this young coyote instead. Pics above and more here.


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"Any Chance of a Good Small One?"

A repost from this blog from October, 2004.

In The Real Jack Russell Terrier (1993), Eddie Chapman writes:

"As a breeder of Jack Russells, I get a steady string of enquiries for working dogs, especially from hunt terrier men, and I can state categorically that if give the choice, ninety-nine percent of hunt terrier men would buy an under 12" worker, if it was available, over a 14" one.

For the last twenty years I have always has the policy of lending out any surplus working terriers I have to other hunts. The most I had out at any one time was the season 1986/87 when I had no less than twenty-six workers on loan to different hunts up and down the country. At the start of each season I regularly get requests from hunt terrier men for the loan of a worker or two and the same request is always made with the enquiry. 'Any chance of a good small one?' and very often it's only a small one they want.

These small Jack Russells are invaluable for hunt terrier work, and not only in the South, for all hunts gets their quota of Foxes that run into those tiny ungettable places where a really small terrier can make a difference between a quick dig and an all day effort to locate the vulpine."

To order, Eddie's book, click here, and never mind that the cover looks a bit like a box of chocolates -- it's a very good read, and second only to his previous effort, The Working Jack Russell Terrier, also available at the same link.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Penn Jillette on PETA


In the July/August issue of Razor magazine, Penn Jillette of the comedy duo Penn & Teller rips a very serious hole into the side of PETA.

Penn Jillette's quotes "PETA's big tofu" Ingrid Newkirk who has said the following:

  • "Animal liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They're all mammals."
  • "Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it."
  • "Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughter houses."

Newkirk surrounds herself with crackpots of a similar stripe. When a Los Angeles Times reporter called to inquire about ant farms ("Uncle Milton the Ant Farm King" had just died), PETA spokesperson Stephanie Boyles told the reporter "Ants are sentient beings, like we are, have rights like we do, and they shouldn't be shown the level of disrespect the producers of any farms show them."

Sentient beings like WE are??! Rights like we do??!

Now here's the rich part. PETA kills a LOT of animals! As Penn Jillette notes after going through their records: "PETA croaks animals. Lots of them. It seems that if you bring a pet to PETA, they snuff it. In the last year we found records stating that PETA euthanized 1,325 dogs and cats at its headquarters, and they only took in 2,103, so PETA whacked a little under two thirds of the animals they 'rescued'"

Read that last paragraph again -- amazing, huh? They killed two-thirds of the animals placed in their care! No wonder you never see PETA protesting in front of kill shelters.

Jillette notes that PETA uses women as sex objects, compares Jews to chickens, and African Americans to farm animals. It has no substantive programs to improve the lot of animals other than public relations stunts featuring good looking but dim-bulb celebrities threatening to "go naked" rather than wear fur.

Pamela Anderson threatening to go naked? OK -- go ahead, pull the trigger; you've done it for everyone else.

Jillette suggests that next time you meet a PETA activist see how committed they are to the cause. Tell them "All you have to do to make all the cuddly puppies in the world really happy is to give me a really nasty lap dance."

There's more, but buy the magazine yourself -- it's on the stand now.

Jillette is very clear that NO ONE is against treating animals humanely, but he notes that this is not PETA's core message. PETA is against the use of any and all animals in research, opposes all hunting, opposes keeping animals as pets (yes, even dogs), and believes that chickens should be returned to the wild.

In short, they are as nutty as a fruitcake, and as self-obsessed as any psychotic.

The Mystery Beast of North Carolina


What is it?

One theory is that it's a red fox with some type of short-coat mutation or diet deficiency, or even mange (though it really does not look mangey).

Another theory is that it is a Gray Fox with all of the above or perhaps even a coyote with all of the above.

It looks a bit like a jackal to me, but I suspect it is some freakish red fox. In any case, this is a "mystery beast" actually photographed in North Carolina

More information can be found at at