Saturday, February 25, 2006

Diaphragmatic Hernia

After last week's hunt I initially thought Mountain had a very large hematoma in front of her right rear leg, but after four days of the thing swelling out and then receding, off and on, I decided that there was a pretty good chance that the condition was actually a diaphragmatic hernia.

I went in to the vet today and they think it's a diaphragmatic hernia as well, so surgery is scheduled for Monday. Most diaphragmatic hernia's are congenital, but occassionally you will get one that results from a bad bite or a traumatic accident. Mountain's was from a groundhog bite.

Mountain's hernia is asymptomatic other than the robin egg-sized bulge on her left side; she is eating, running around, and does not appear to be in pain even when the area is massaged. Hopefully the incision will be small and she will be in the field again in two weeks time. Knock on wood!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Looking for Milo in New Orleans after Katrina

Jack Russell Terrier: smooth-coated; 6 years old; male, neutered; mostly white with a brown ring around the right eye and a small square brown patch on left ear; last wearing a red harness and a brown leather spiked collar.

He has a St. Bernard Parish booster tag and a Milo Carollo ID tag, with a phone number no longer in service.

Contact: Frank, Tara, Christina, and Gianni Carrollo: 504-881-7267, 901-874-2465, 901-872-0430, fax: 901-874-2568 or cell 504-376-5611 (Tennesee). You can also email Frank at

Additional Information: Milo was left with friends at 3 Pamela Street, Arabi, LA 70001. He escaped the yard after the hurricane but before the flooding.

Listed on , ID #55615.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Cold Day with Small Results

Fox sette -- no one home despite the bitter cold and wind.

It was colder than a well-diggers toes on Sunday, and I figured it was almost-perfect foxing weather and so I headed out to an old dairy farm (now all in corn) on which I had located a few fox last year. I located four nice fox settes, but no one was home.

Mountain and Sailor managed to jump a small groundhog above ground (or at least I think they jumped it above ground, as I was on the other side of a thick and enormous hedgerow and I could not see them and they were dead silent through it all).

In the ruckus, Mountain seems to have gotten nailed in one of her rear muscles. The skin is not broken, and the dog is not limping, but she has a swelling in front of her rear leg that I think is a hematoma. I think this is likely to disappear in a few days time, but I am keeping a close eye on it. I can rub the area, and it does not appear to be very sore, and if I apply gentle pressure, the lump appears to go down. Deep bruises like this can take longer to subside than you would imagine, however.

A very small (and dead) groundhog gets a little shake from Sailor.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Catch and Release Hunting

This little fellow was pole-snared, and released totally unharmed a couple of weeks ago.

The picture is a little fuzzy because I was holding the pole-snare tight with one hand and trying to squeeze off a photo with the other, and this bugger was pretty strong! Don't let those brown eyes fool you -- this guy was tough as hell and eager to do a little damage if he could get hold of me. We parted ways about a minute later, with him scampering off down the hedgerow and me wishing him well for the rest of his already-eventfull day!

One of the great things about terrier work is that you can practice something unique -- catch and release hunting. The ethics here are about the same as catch-and-release fishing in that you help ensure that a well-loved hunting area always remains in balance with a viable population of your quarry species.

As a general rule I try to release raccoon and fox in order to keep the populations of these animals up on my farm permissions. Though fox and raccoons are at record population levels across the country, it is easy to knock a dent in a local farm population if you hunt hard and often. As a general rule, fox and raccoon do very little harm to American agriculture (though they can be hell on free range poultry and hard on some wild bird populations).

I generally terminate most groundhogs, as these animals have a very different level of reproduction and are broadly detested by farmers for the damage they do to crops.

Sailor looks like she's about to fall over asleep in this shot. The white PVC plastic of the pole snare can be seen on the left, along with a bit of the cable.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Transvestite Terriers of Westminster


People who care about working terriers are generally dismissive of the Kennel Club, for the simple reason that they know what the Kennel Club has done, through either omission or comission, to the working terriers they care about.

The simple fact is that no working terrier has ever been created by the Kennel Club, but every working terrier breed that has been drawn in, has been destroyed there.

The Reverend John Russell noted the negative impact of dog shows on working terriers -- he judged only one show (when he was a very old man), and he swore he would never do it again!.

Though the destruction of working terriers started with the Allied Terrier Shows run by Charles Crufts in the U.K. (Crufts was a dog food salesman who never even owned a dog himself!), the Americans quickly got into the game as well.

A quick historical tour of "Best in Show" winners at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City suggests the intense attention given to terriers at the turn of the 20th Century.

  • The first "Best in Show" winner at Westminster in New York City was in 1907. This first "Best in Show" winner was a smooth fox terrier that looked a little bit like today's Jack Russell.
  • Fox terriers won again in 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1937 and 1942.
  • A Sealyham (another working breed ruined by the show ring) won in 1924, 1927 and 1936.
  • Airedales made Best in Show in 1912, 1919, 1920, 1933, and 1936.
  • A bull terrier went Best In Show in 1918, and a Welsh Terrier in 1944.

As you can see, almost all the early winners were terriers
, and most of them were fox terriers.
It was during this period the face of the fox terrier was elongated and the chest enlarged by show ring breeders. Prior to World War II, if you were really intent on wining the top award at a dog show, you went into fox terriers.

Probably no breed could have survived such intense attention without being wrecked by fad, and the fox terrier certainly did not.

A popular line of rhetoric within the Kennel Club crowd is that individual breeders ruin the dogs, not the Kennel Club itself. This rhetoric is designed to absolve the Kennel Club of its responsibility for the genetic decline of working dogs. In fact, the rules and selection bias of the Kennel Club are a very large part of the problem -- every much a part of the problem as individual breeders (who have no power to reform the Kennel Club itself).

The genetic destruction of working dogs begins with the fact that the Kennel Club mandates that each breed club "close" its registry after an initial influx of "pure bred" dogs. In fact most breed clubs start with a very small base of dogs, and then move to close breed roles as quickly as possible in order to create economic value for the breeders that are "in" the club.

A closed genetic registry results in increasing levels of inbreeding and increased concentrations of genetic faults. In fact, Kennel Club dogs are so deeply inbred and rich with genetic defects that mapping the genome of Kennel Club dogs was one of the first tasks undertaken by genetic scientists eager to crack the human genetic code in order to eradicate diseases.

If you are looking for the gene associated with genetic deafness, it is rather hard trait to find in a random-bred human, cat or chimpanzee, but thanks to Kennel Club inbreeding, there are entire lines of deaf dogs, with deafness common to 25% or more of all puppies from some breeds. Genetic defects associated with ataxia, cataracts, dysplasia, and dwarfism are similarly easy to find by simply comparing one breed, or line of dogs, with another.

Along with a requirement that breed registries be closed, the Kennel Club rejects the notion that there should be a morphological continuum witin the world of dogs. In fact, "speciation" of dogs based on looks alone is what the Kennel Club is all about. Under Kennel Club rules and "standards," a cairn terrier cannot look too much like a norwich terrier, which cannot look too much like a norfolk terrier, which cannot look too much like a border terrier, which cannot look too much like a fell terrier, which cannot look too much like a welsh terrier, which cannot look too much like a lakeland terrier, which cannot look too much like a fox terrier, which cannot look too much like a "Parson Russell" terrier (the non-hunting, show-ring version of the Jack Russell Terrier).

The show ring is all about "breeds," and all about differentiating one breed from another. In the world of the working terrier, of course, the fox or raccoon or groundhog does not care too much what breed the dog is! In fact, the fox or raccoon cannot even see the dog it faces underground, as there is no light inside a den pipe. What the fox cares about is whether the dog can actually reach it at the back of the sette. The good news (at least as far as the fox is concerned!) is that a Kennel Club dog often cannot get very close to the quarry . The reason for this? A Kennel Club dog is likely to have too big a chest.

The overlarge chests you find on so many Kennel Club terriers are a byproduct of putting too much emphasis on head shape and size. By requiring all the terriers to be morphologically distinct from each other, the Kennel Club puts tremendous emphasis on heads. People who do not dig much (if at all) imagine that a big head is important to work. In fact, it really is not; most small cross-bred working terriers have heads big enough to do the job, and are well-enogh shaped to boot.

An over-emphasis on terrier head size almost invariably leads to a larger chest size on the dog -- a bigger chest size is needed to counterbalance the larger head, since one is attached to the other. A large chest size, in turn, results in a dog that cannot easily get to ground in a tight naturally-dug earth.

The end result is what we see in the Kennel Club show ring today -- transvestite terriers. These dogs may LOOK like they can do the part (and they are so eager!), but when push comes to shove, most of them lack the essential equipment to do the job, whether that is chest size, nose, voice, brains or a game and gritty character.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fox Hunting voted favourite 'icon'

Fox hunting has come top of a government poll of great British institutions.

A competition run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and entitled "Icons" had set out to find "England's most cherished cultural treasures".

A government website asked the public to nominate things that reflect "a contemporary view of English culture and values - a living portrait of a country, a people and a way of life". Nominations included Stonehenge, the double decker bus, fish and chips, the English weather and the cup of tea.

The clear winner of the contest, the results of which will be announced soon, was fox hunting with 91 per cent of the vote. Officials have privately cried foul, claiming that pro-hunting groups encouraged supporters to bombard the website.

However, the site itself waxes lyrical about hunting and features a surprising definition of the sport, which was outlawed last year. Rather than describing it as banned, it says: "February 2005 saw fox hunting with dogs curtailed in England as a result of years of campaigning by animal welfare groups…"

While acknowledging opposition to the sport, the website says: "Hunting foxes with hounds has a long tradition in England… Today, there are many pubs with names such as 'The Fox and Hounds' that provide a further cultural echo."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Deben's New And Improved Collar

Deben has created a NEW long range terrier collar designed to work to over 40ft (12m) distance. The collar is fully WATERPROOF, has a battery life of over 350 hrs and is switched On / Off by a magnet located in the tip of the hand held receiver so there is no need to remove the batteries after each time of use. The transmitter is fitted with a top quality leather collar which can easily be replaced when worn.

A LED display on the receiver indicates distance from the terrier and a varying pitch sounder increases in pitch, as the receiver approaches the collar. In search mode the range is over 40ft (12m) and in the locate mode the working range is between 10ft (3.5m) and 8inc (20cm) for ultra-accurate, ‘close-in’ location.

The unique receiver circuit is designed both to detect the signal transmitted by the collar and to reject interference from elsewhere. The receiver has magnetic reed switches (no moving parts for improved reliability) which operate the on/off facility and a search/locate facility. Ultra-Efficient Electronic Circuitry means improved collar battery life of over 350 hours.

The compact designed collar fits neatly under the dog’s neck. (note – although all Mk3 receivers will work with the LRT collar, the calibration will not be correct. All MK 3 receivers have been fitted with a magnet at the tip for magnetic switch on/off)

A complete collar and box set is 195 British pounds or about $346 U.S. The collar and receiver alone are 97 and 98 pounds each, respectively. >> To order

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Weather Frustrations

The month was the warmest January on record for Washington Dulles International Airport, with an average tempterature of 41.8 degrees. Somewhat hopefully, the newspaper reports that "Virginia's warm and benign weather is unlikely to continue."

Right, but it's making for a damn short (and wet) season. Rain yesterday and today will likely scrub a dig tomorrow. Again.