Saturday, February 28, 2009

Scared Puppies at the Kennel Club

It seems the U.K. and American Kennel Clubs are terrified.

And what are they terrified of?

  • Pictures.

  • Knowledge.

  • Science.

  • History.

The U.K. Kennel Club is so terrified that people might actually find out about the dogs and their defects, diseases and deformities, that it is refusing to give press credentials to people who actually write about dogs.

Beverley Cuddy, the editor and publisher of Dogs Today, the finest dog magazine in the U.K. has been turned down for a press pass to Crufts this year - for the first time in ages.


Simple: She was willing to speak up on behalf of the dogs.

Ms. Cuddy has concerns about the fantastic Coefficients of Inbreeding found in some breeds, and she would like to see some health tests made mandatory. She thinks a dog should be able to walk and run without passing out from lack of oxygen or slipping a hip. She thinks a ban on incestuous matings is a good idea, and she wonders whether it is really a good idea that dachshunds are being weighed and starved before being shown.

But The Kennel Club will have no questions. And so they denied press credentials to Ms. Cuddy, and they have also rejected Jemima Harrison's film crew as well. No independent video! No questions!

Instead, they have decided to employ a vanity film crew to put what they want folks to see on Youtube. That way they can guarantee there will be no tough questions about inbreeding, no mention of dogs that cannot breathe, dogs that cannot mate, dogs with wrecked hips and jaw-dropping rates of cancer.

And, of course no one (not even Ms. Harrison or Ms. Cuddy) are talking too much about the fact that dogs once bred for a purpose are no longer doing their jobs. The Fox Terrier cannot fit down a hole; the Irish Setter cannot find a bird in a hen house. No one who actually works a dog seriously -- whether it is sled dog, bird dog, rabbit runner, or police dog -- turns to the Kennel Club expecting to find a working example of a breed.

It seems that full-on panic has set in at The Kennel Club as the lead-up to Crufts begins.

David Cavill, a professional Kennel Club brown-noser, is already banging on the jungle drums warning everyone to talk to no one. Did you hear that someone is coming up from somewhere, he ask?. This person is not a reporter, and it's all rumor, but (GASP!) this mysterious person might ask someone a question about something. Ahhhhhh!!!! Pictures are being posted! Talk to no one! Spies are all around! Loose lips sink ships!

And what is it that they think might be said?

What is it that they think might be seen?

What story do they want no one to hear about?

Shhhhhhh!! Tell no one!

It is our little secret that selecting dogs for deformities like brachycephalism and achondroplasia has negative health consequences.

Tell no one that some coat colors and patterns are strongly associated with deafness, and that screw tails and ridges come with back disorders.

"Mum's the word" that inbreeding causes problems. Cancer? Cataracts? Skin disease? Liver failure? Epilepsy?

Repeat after me: "They are not in my lines!" "No, I have never had a dog with any health problems at all." All those dead dogs back there were "just bad luck" and "these things happen."

As part of this Chinese Fire Drill the Kennel Club is busy banging on Crufts judges in order to "retrain" them overnight.

As Valerie Elliott, Countryside Editor at The London Times notes:

Judges at Crufts next week are under orders to remove unhealthy animals as part of a campaign by the Kennel Club to save pedigree dog showing from extinction.

Read that sentence again.

The Kennel Club is not trying to save dogs, they are trying to save dog SHOWS.

Surely that is a slip up in writing by the reporter?

But no, there it is again, and this time straight from the mouth of Kennel Club spokesperson Caroline Kisko:

“We all think dog shows are under threat. There is a view among some animal welfare groups like the RSPCA that dog shows are bad. But if you don’t have dog shows what is the incentive for people to change the way they breed dogs?


There is no incentive to have healthy dogs if there are no shows? What?? Kennel Club shows are not about health! After 130 years of shows, the dogs in the Kennel Club are less healthy than cross-breeds.

Does Ms. Kisko really think so little of dog breeders that she counts their ethics and integrity and desire for healthy dogs at ZERO? Because that's what she said. They will do nothing without a ribbon attached to it!

The lynch pin to all this, of course, is that the economic wheels are coming off the bus for both the U.K. and American Kennel Clubs.

Pedigree dog food has already walked away from Crufts, as well as the BBC, PDSA, and the RSPCA.

Where The Kennel Club used to get paid for allowing TV crews into Crufts, they are now having to pay to get a film crew to shoot anything at all.

Instead of the glories of major television, The Kennel Club has had to fall back on Youtube, where they are in competition with people playing the Ukulele and humorous pet food commercials.

And, of course walking into the center ring at Crufts this year is another huge embarrassment: the Dogue de Bordeaux.

This is the latest Kennel Club breed, and it is such a genetic basket case that the breed club's own data shows the average Dogue de Bordeaux is dead from disease or veterinary intervention at the age of 5.29 years. Oh yes, let's celebrate the Dogue de Bordeaux and what The Kennel Club's closed registry can do for it!

So what's the latest?

Well two things. It seems Dog World may be on the road to getting itself banned. A representative from the Kennel Club, writing an anonymous column, has taken to paper-rattling at Sheila Atter about a column she wrote for that same publication just a week or two ago.

Is Dog World on our side? When will those in charge at Dog World get on the same wavelength as the rest of us and start talking loudly and positively for those of us who are actually in the world of dogs and buy the paper?

And there you have it again! The idea that Dog World might be on the side of the DOGS is completely lost. For the likes of Ms. Kisko (who is, no doubt, the anonymous author of this squib) it's not about DOGS; it's about people. And to be specific, it's about the people in The Kennel Club.

And so what is happening over here in the U.S.?

Well, apparently the American Kennel Club is beginning to freak out as well.

It seems there was no problem with AKC Chairman Ron Menaker putting out, on AKC letter head, his desire to rope in more puppy mills dogs.

Puppy mill dogs are the future of the American Kennel Club says Menaker, just as they have been its past.

Kennel Club registrations are down 53% in the last 15 years, and not enough money is coming in from the veterinary and insurance referral business. It seems their suggested new marketing slogan: "We don't just breed defective dogs, we fix them too!" did not go over quite as well as hoped.

No, there is no concern about registering puppy mill dogs. The more the merrier! They just don't want anyone filming that!

And so they are terrified that ABC Television is poking about and asking questions. What? Of whom? What for? The bastards!!

Apparentrly its a news crew affiliated with the award-winning "Nightline" program. What? Who allowed them? By what right?

And rumor has it that they have even been talking to veterinarians. What? Why? What do they know about canine health?

And so the American Kennel Club has swung into action to prevent the truth from getting out.

All hands on deck!

Job One was to issue a "Be On the Look Out" notice to all AKC breed clubs warning them that ABC television was about. And so they issued a blast email which, ironically, is sure to make this ABC Nightline program required viewing by all thinking dog owners. The email missive reads:

American Kennel Club
***Please cross-post to your breed, club and dog show lists***

The American Kennel Club would like to correct some misinformation that is circulating within the fancy. We would appreciate your assistance in spreading the word about the facts on this issue.

The AKC is aware that NIGHTLINE, which airs on ABC, is pursuing a story on canine health, including breeding. The AKC welcomes all constructive dialogue about the sport and on ways to improve the health of dogs. However, all indications are that the story will not be a fair and balanced look at the issues. With the guidance of our advisors, the AKC declined to participate but instead provided NIGHTLINE with an official statement:
_ _ _ _ _ _

"The American Kennel Club is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization devoted to canine health, breeding and responsible dog ownership. The AKC's breeding policies and high ethical standards have made us the most widely respected registry in the world. Each year, the AKC performs approximately 5,000 kennel and breeder inspections to ensure the proper care and conditions of dogs and has led the charge in regards to advancing canine health, including founding the AKC Canine Health Foundation in 1995. Since that time, $22 million has been given to more than 500 research projects at 74 vet schools and research institutes worldwide to improve the health of all dogs."
_ _ _ _ _ _

It has also come to our attention that some individual AKC constituents have been approached for interviews or may be approached at dog shows. In this event we recommend politely declining the interview and referring their requests to the AKC's Communications dept at or 212-696-8343.

Right. Whatever you do, do not think for yourself! And remember, if you do, the Kennel Club will be watching. They might put a little check note in your file. And if they do, you might never win at a dog show again. "The fancy" will not brook anyone questioning their "sport." No threats of course, but you do know that dogs are judged up the leash and not down? You do know that's why there are professional handlers, right? So heads up!!

The email missive ends by noting that "You may also direct those interested in this topic to for pertinent information."


So we went to that link.
And guess what? There's no information there on canine health!


Instead, there's a link to AKC Pet Healthcare which is a link to ... (wait for it) ... a pet health insurance policy.

So we are back full circle.

The AKC's response to the charge that they are promoting unhealthy dogs, is that they also sell pet health insurance, and that will be happy to steer you to a kickback-paying veterinarian who will fix your dog.

"We don't just sell the disease, we sell the cure."

Anyone else see the irony, humor and horror here?

I assure you it has escaped the American Kennel Club!

And so the American Kennel Club, mired in its eugenics past, terrified of science, and praying that kickbacks from the pet health insurance industry will be enough to float its economic boat in the future, is now banking on quick cash from puppy mills operators, even as it bunkers down from the press.

This is the America Kennel Club; in a jamb and absolutely clueless as to how to get itself out.

    Related Links:

The Darwin Retriever


"Nope. That's an education campaign on four legs."


"Oh, you mean the DOG?


"He's a Darwin Retriever, a rare breed descended from the Shenandoah Mountain Cur. Darwin Retrievers fetch us back to man's original intent: healthy dogs that can run all day in the field and then fall asleep at the foot of your bed at night."

Oh! So, not it's not a Kennel Club breed then?


And the shirt?

"It's what all the best Darwin Retrievers are wearing these days. It comes in sizes to fit anything from a 12-pound working terrier to a 35-pound border collie, to a 50-pound bird dog, or an 80-pounder cross-bred lurcher.

And you have sizes to fit Pit Bulls too?

"Of course! They are the most American of dogs. Just order your T-shirt here."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wayne Pacelle's Final Solution

Wayne Pacelle, the ninny who runs the Humane Society of the U.S., has a blog post this morning (no I will not supply the link) entitled "Fixing Pet Overpopulation."

And how do you do that in "Wayne's World?"

The same way Hitler did: Forced sterilization and rounding up everyone you do not like to kill them.

Especially Pit Bulls.

Getting canine advice from Wayne Pacelle is like getting cooking lessons from Jeffrey Dahmer.

The man has a recipe all right, but lacking all ethics, the results are simply frightening.

So what are people saying about Wayne Pacelle's push to kill all Pit Bulls in animal shelters?

  • "HSUS Kills Puppies." That's the simple and short title which sums it all up over at the Poodle and Dog Blog.

  • "HSUS: We Must Kill This Pit Bull to Save It" is the nonsense philosphy of Wayne Pacelle and HSUS notes Christine Keith.

  • "HSUS Gets Slammed for Dog Killings" is the "just the facts ma'am" headline from Gina Spadafori.

  • "Time to Take the 'Humane' Out of HSUS" says Selma over at the Caveat blog.

  • "The H in HSUS Stands for Hypocrisy" notes Luisa at Lassie Get Help.

  • "Every Shelter Dog Deserves a Fair Evaluation" notes Shirley at YesBiscuit, who documents HSUS's flip-flopping in an aptly titled piece entitled "Pants on Fire."

  • "Why HSUS is Horrible" is the simple title of the post over at Help Fido.

  • "The Answer is "Kill", Now What's the Question?" asks the KC Dog Blog.

  • "The Death of Hope at HSUS" mourns Nathan Winograd who wonders if Pacelle and company are out of their minds.

So what has been HSUS's reponse to all this?

They are mewing around while backing up.

They are now saying they think every dog should be evaulated as an individual (What???!! Call Martin Luther King!), and they are are proposing a meeting to discuss "the issues" at the annual HSUS Animal Care Expo in April in Las Vegas.

Yes, that's right -- Las Vegas.

Remember that next time, you get a piece of direct mail from Wayne Pacelle and HSUS.

Remember that their position on pit bulls has been: "Kill them all and let God sort it out."

And remember that when challenged on that policy, they thought the proper forum was months in advance (hey, what's the hurry?) ... in Las Vegas.

And NO, don't even try to tell me about how "cheap" Las Vegas is.

You do not need to fly to Vegas and party in casinos in order to have a discussion and make a decision.

You can do that on the phone, by video conference, or via email.

Most of us do it every day.

Just not Wayne Pacelle.

Above clip art shameless stolen from Caveat.

If Dogs Are Your Bag, Have We Got a Bag For You!

The dogs cannot speak for themselves.

In fact, many Kennel Club dogs cannot even breath correctly, cannot walk correctly, and can no longer do the jobs they were once bred for.

Inbred nearly to death, breed after breed of Kennel Club dogs are now complete genetic messes.

The dogs cannot speak for themselves, but you can, and without even opening your mouth. Order your attractive bag or T-shirt today.

Want to go into business for yourself? Rip off this art for FREE and sell away .... or give away ... or raise money for dog rescues.

Raise heat until the Kennel Club sees the light!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Hip-Hop GOP?

The Washington Times reports on the bold new ideas of RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who happens to be Black, corrupt and (apparently) cRaZy.
Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party’s principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”

… “There was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort” zones, he said, citing defeats in such states as Virginia and North Carolina. “We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section … We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

A "hip-hop" GOP?

Right. Go with that. Wonderful idea. Deep thinking and quality leadership there!

And what will Michael Steele's "hip-hop" GOP be all about?

Who knows?!! All we know for sure is that Steele personally supports a ban on "assault" weapons. As he told The Washington Post just two years ago:

"You draw the line. I mean, what do you need an assault weapon for?"

Me? Not a thing! But what's the definition of an assault rifle again? I keep forgetting ...

And what was the National Rifle Association's response to Michael Steel's "let's ban assault rifles" rhetoric?

Simple: they spent about $4,000 in support of his bid for Governor.



No wonder the GOP and the NRA are both considereed three-letter jokes.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Obama's Have NOT Selected a Breed or Dog

I got a note saying the Obama's had selected a Portugese Water Dog .

But the story read wrong, and so I shot a quick note off to my correspondent:

You sure this is not a recycle, i.e. a news story created out of bits of an old story? It does not sound like there is a dog here. And rescue PWDs do not fall out of the air do they?

And was I right?


It turns out the People magazine story was pushing vapor, as I suspected. The First Lady’s press secretary, Katie Lelyveld says the family is still debating the decision and no dog or breed has been selected.

At ease, and as you were ...

Supreme Court Says 2nd Amendment is Restricted

The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed federal efforts to bar those convicted of domestic violence from owning guns.

Will the NRA now take to the streets demanding that wife-beaters have an unrestricted right to guns?

After all, you do not lose your First Amendment rights after you beat someone. Why should you lose your Second Amendment rights?

And will civil rights groups now take to the streets to protest the outrageous discrimination which says hitting a spouse in the face is a worse crime than hitting a random stranger in the face?

Aren't all people equal before the law?

Or will (Heaven forbid!) common sense step in?

How Much Land Is Protected?


There are many different ways to look at how much land is protected in each county. I will start with the technical, but if you read to the end I promise you some pretty impressive data!

The technical: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) defines six management categories of protected areas in two groups.

Group One Lands are totally protected areas that are maintained in a natural state and are closed to extractive uses. They comprise Category I, Strict Nature Reserves/Wilderness Area; Category II, National Park; and Category III, National Monuments.

Group Two Lands are partially protected areas managed for specific uses such as recreation, or to provide optimum conditions for certain species or ecological communities. They comprise Category IV, Habitat/Species Management Areas; Category V, Protected Landscape/Seascapes; and Category VI, Managed resource Protected Areas.

The very easy-to-use "Nation Master" web site ranks countries by the percentage of land in "protected areas" and by the percentage of land that is still "wild" ("wildness").

On this web site "protected areas" seems to combine both Group One and Group Two IUCN land protection definitions -- a pretty good index of aesthetically, culturally or environmental important lands afforded a significant level of government protection.

The "Wildness" index on the Nation Master site, uses the percent of land in a given country with a "very low anthropogenic impact". In other words, this is land with very, very low population densities and not much evidence of human disturbance (often because it is desert or tundra). The "wildness" data is largely from Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network, with an overlay for human population densities (see footnote on the Nation Master web site).

Now for the really impressive numbers.

The growth in the acreage of formally protected lands in the U.S, Canada, and Mexico is very impressive. Since 1970, North American acreage off limits to development rose from 247 million to 741 million acres — about 15 percent of the continent's land surface. Almost all of this is due to the naming of new wilderness, near-wilderness, and biological reserves.

On the international front, the same tremendous growth in protected lands we see in North America is also occurring overseas.

In 2004, the United Nations reported that there are now over 102,000 environmentally protected areas around the world totaling over 17 million square kilometers of land (another 1.8 million square kilometers is underwater).

To put it another way, about 11.5 per cent of the Earth's land surface - an area the size of South America - is now protected.

For scale, and in comparison, the area of the world's protected areas is now far bigger than the land surface of India and China combined.

It is also larger than all land in the world under permanent, arable, crops.

Mountain is "Shovel Ready"

Mountain Girl is "shovel ready."

A Jack Russell Terrier is the original "stimulus package."

They start out small, and if you are lucky they stay that way. Mountain Girl as a pup at Larry Morrison's.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Pressure of Being a Working Dog

A young sheltie ties to convince a much larger sheep that it is serious and up to the task.

When a working sheep dog moves sheep, he is said to be exerting "pressure" on the sheep by using body language, movement and voice.

If the dog puts too much pressure on the sheep, they may scatter in several groups or bolt off stampeding in the wrong direction. If the dog is too aggressive or too timid, a protective ram may decide it can bluff the dog into submission or that it must charge the dog in order to protect the ewes. Under either scenario, the dog can end up being chased by the sheep.

Herding is difficult because every flock is different, and so too is every pasture. A working collie cannot afford to make too many mistakes, and that is especially true in a timed herding trial.

If the dog is too amped up, it may press the sheep too hard and they will bolt and remain spooky for the rest of the run. If the dog does not put enough pressure on the sheep, however, they will be slow to lift and valuable seconds will be lost on the clock.

While things are a bit different in the world of working terriers, the concept of pressure is the same, and the same kind of see-saw is at work, only it is all done underground.

If a terrier does not put enough pressure on a groundhog or badger, it may dig away and soon be lost to both dog and digger.

Conversely, if a terrier puts too much pressure on a groundhog, fox, raccoon or badger, the animal may decide it has no other option but to stand and fight. If that occurs, the dog may be injured.

Intelligence and balance are treasured and valued in working collies. As Patricia B. McConnell notes in her very good book, The Other End of the Leash:

"A good, steady dog with an innate sense of pressure is worth his weight in gold, because he can move sheep or cattle without causing a fight or a stampede, smoothly moving the herd where you want them. The brilliant ones make it look so easy, you wouldn't know what all the fuss was about, until you watch a dog with no finesse, who moves in too fast, and panics the flock."

The same can be said about a working terrier. When a really experienced and well-balanced dog goes to ground, they do not rush in full of fire and belligerence, but creep in listening. They are not trying to move anything yet -- they are simply trying to locate, and they are trying to get a sense of how much pressure will be required to move whatever is in the hole.

When the dog does locate and opens up to a bay, he will be using his voice -- and probably his voice alone -- to move the quarry to a bolt or a stop-end of the den pipe. While a young and inexperienced dog may rush in with grabbing teeth (and get the muzzle bites to prove it), an older and more useful dog will know the easier way to get the job done.

The quarry in the hole is not the only thing under pressure, of course -- the dog is too. The pressure felt by the terrier is directly proportional to: 1) the amount of experience it has had underground; 2) the size of the hole it is working, and; 3) the mood of the animal it is facing.

I think this is the proper ranking of the main pressure-builders within a working terrier. An experienced dog is comfortable underground and knows enough tricks and ways of working that it is pretty confident that it can get the job done no matter what is found down there. An inexperienced dog, however, is not battling the quarry so much as its own fears.

Whether the dog is experienced or not, frustration rises and falls in direct proportion to the size of the hole. Even a confident and experienced dog feels pressure and frustration in a very tight hole where it cannot move forward or backward without substantial struggle.

The quarry itself can exert pressure on a dog, of course. Both a raccoon and a possum can make enough noise that they can spook both dog and digger alike. Groundhog and fox, on the other hand, are less likely to voice their objections than demonstrate them with slashing teeth.

All of this take place in the pitch black, of course. While a sheep dog can receive visual cues from the sheep, the terrier must rely solely on sound and scent. And while too much pressure on the sheep may result in the flock moving too fast or breaking in two, too much pressure by the terrier may result in a rip to the muzzle that will take weeks to heal.

At the end of a dig, just as you are breaking into the pipe, is when things often go bad when you are working terriers. Emboldened by the presence of light and reinforcements, a terrier that has used his voice alone up to this point, may decided it can now go in and grab.

An experienced terrier will try to grab his quarry by the cheek or ear, since a groundhog, fox, or raccoon gripped by the side of its head cannot easily move to bite back. Not every dog is smart enough, or lucky enough, to get such a good hold, however, which is why a smart terrierman will generally step in and pull his dog as soon as he can in order to save his terrier unnecessary injury.

Bottom line: As it gains experience, a working dog learns to relax a little more and begins to develop a bag of tricks and techniques it can employ to tackle different situations. In both herding dogs and working terriers, an experienced dog learns to stay attuned to the pressure building up on the other side of the field or pipe. There is a fine line between too much pressure and too little, and the very best dogs walk this shifting line with the grace and skill of a ballet dancer.

Pizza and Politics

The Associated Press wants you to think about a pizza:

So, a guy walks into a restaurant. Who makes sure his food is safe?

It depends on what he eats.

A cheese pizza that arrived at the restaurant frozen? The Food and Drug Administration is in charge of inspecting it.

A frozen pepperoni pizza? That's the Agriculture Department.

A fresh pizza, made at the restaurant? Both departments would be responsible for the original ingredients, if the pizza has meat on it. What if he eats eggs? It depends whether the eggs are inside the shell, in liquid form or have been processed. Fish? Some fish is inspected by the Commerce Department.

The FDA bears the brunt of food safety oversight, a mission called into question in the wake of a massive recall of peanut products. But at least 15 government agencies have a hand in making sure food is safe under at least 30 different laws, some of which date back to the early 1900s.

It's a convoluted system.

"There is no one person, no individual today who is responsible for food safety," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. "We have an immediate crisis which requires a real restructuring."

DeLauro and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have been proposing an overhaul of the nation's food safety structure for more than a decade. There might now be the political will to do something following the outbreak of salmonella traced to peanuts blamed for sickening 600 people and killing at least nine others.

They may be making headway. President Barack Obama's new agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said he supports creating a single, combined food safety agency. It's a major break from his predecessors.

"You can't have two systems and be able to reassure people you've got the job covered," Vilsack said.

Right. Right as rain.

Poor Man's Meal

Welcome to the modern world where a few Depression-era cooking lessons may well be in order. We've still got cash and jobs at "Casa Terrierman," but the kids (now young adults) could learn a few things by watching Clara's Youtube channel.

You had potatoes? We prayed for potatoes. In my day, we had nothing but rocks to eat, and small rocks too, not the big ones.... more.

Monday, February 23, 2009

May the Circle Be Unbroken


That Chimpanzee Went Chimpanzee

Patty Khully has a great post today about the Xanax-chewing chimp that attacked his owner's friend, and was then stabbed with a butcher knife by his owner, just before the chimp was shot dead by the local police.


Just your typical ending to a "we got a chimpanzee... tiger... lion... bobcat... bear ... alligator... wolf in the house" story if you ask me.

Fools are a dime a dozen in this country, and it seems everyone with a few thousand dollars in their checking account thinks that cash money is all they need to raise a large and potentially dangerous animal.

"Bobo would never harm us ... we raised him from a bottle."

Right. Tell it to Siegfried and Roy.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

You Make an Iditarod Winner with Good Dog Food

See more Iditarod video here

"Corn is crap."

That's a line you won't hear from the winners of the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.

The Iditarod is a 1,161 miles long, stretching from Willow to Nome, Alaska, and it is usually run in 8-15 days (depending on weather) by teams of 12-16 dogs who are almost all cross-breed huskies.

The key to winning the Iditarod is not just having good dogs, good luck, and a good musher who makes few (if any) mistakes: It's also having dogs that are top shape and which can routinely run hundred-mile days.

Someone who knows what it takes to win the Iditarod is Lance Mackey. Lance won the 2007 and 2008 Iditarods back-to-back, and he was also a top-10 finisher in 2005 and 2006.

In 2007 and 2008, Lance also won the Yukon Gold race (1,000 miles from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks, Alaska), a race he also won in 2005 and 2006.

To top it all off Lance Mackey has also won the Copper Basin 300 Championship this year (a repeat win from 2006), and had previous wins in the Kobuk 440 Championship, and the Knik 200 Championship.

Lance Mackey, Iditarod, 2006.  Photo by Carl Auer.

So what does Lance Mackey feed his dogs
while they are in training and running 3-4 times a week ?

He feeds them a dog food that contains CORN.

And Lance Mackey is not alone.

Eddy Streeper and his wife Amy also feed their dogs in training a food that contains corn.

Eddy has won the Canadian Open Championships 11 times, the Anchorage Fur Rondy twice, and the Open North American Championship in Fairbanks. His wife, Amy is a two-time Open North American Champion.

And, of course, these world-class working dog men and women are not alone.

Most of the working gun dogs, bear hounds, working terriers, pig dogs, and racing greyhounds in this country are fed dog food that has corn in it as well.

In fact almost all working dogs eat bagged kibble, and most of that kibble has corn in it.

For example Martin Buser, who has won the Iditarod four times (including the fastest time ever) powers his dogs with Eagle Pack Power Formula, which is a dog food made with corn.

Hans Gatt, the 2002, 2003, and 2004 Yukon Quest winner uses the same food.

Four-time Iditarod chamption Susan Butcher powered her teams to victory on Purina Pro Plan's HiPro --a dog food containing corn.

As for Lance MacKey and the other top mushers named in this post, they train their dogs on Redpaw Poweredge 32K a dog food that lists corn as the #2 ingredient, and which is "designed for competitive training."

Putting corn in dog food is NOT a mistake, says Eric Morris. Morris is a competitive long-distance musher who created RedPaw dog food specifically for the training of long-haul endurance dogs.

In a post entitled "Is Corn Really Bad for my Dog," Morris notes that much of the "information" about corn and dog food found on the Internet today is simply wrong, and has been wrong for many decades.

He writes:

When feed manufacturers first began making dry pet foods decades ago little was known about how these diets would affect a dog. Based on the industries experience with making animal feeds, corn was a primary ingredient. Due to the industries lack of knowledge on canine nutrition and how to properly process the grains these dog foods did not perform well and often resulted in poor stools. Corn was given the blame for all of this and that stigma is still persisting to this day and is often used as a marketing tool.

Over time the industry has learned more about canine metabolism and how corn can affect digestion and the production methods have progressed significantly. This new knowledge has given the pet food manufacturers the ability to use corn and various other grains in their formulations without any dietary complications provided the feed is formulated and processed correctly. In some cases the use of corn is a significant advantage in dog foods.

A great example of this is Redpaw Poweredge 32K dog food. This is a dry kibble dog food with the primary ingredient being fish complimented with poultry and pork. Since Redpaw bases all of it’s formulations on the overall performance of dogs in real working conditions the company did not base their formulations on the marketing and ingredient list. The formulations are based solely on performance so all potential ingredients were considered.

In the case of this one dog food, corn was the absolute best grain source to compliment the other ingredients. Using corn as the grain component resulted in a final formulation the yielded a high protein dog food with complete and balanced amino acid and fatty acid profiles. This synergy was not possible using any other grain. Redpaw also understands that if the grain is ground properly and then cooked under the ideal conditions that the starches in corn can be completely digestible allowing them to take advantage of the protein and fat portion of the corn. The cooking process that Redpaw uses allows for the complete unfolding of the starches. It is very similar to the process of making popcorn. Under the proper temperature and pressure the starches from the corn are encouraged to completely unfold and pop up like a piece of popcorn. As we all know popcorn will begin to breakdown in water. In a dog, these starches begin to breakdown as soon as they enter the dogs digestive system and do not contribute to any digestive problems.

An interesting note is that the Redpaw Poweredge 32K mentioned above is the top performance dog food in the sleddog racing circles. This one dog food has has more top ten victories the past two years running than any other dog food on the market. This feed was even responsible for the unprecedented back to back victories in the Yukon Quest and Iditarod sleddog races two years running. So when someone tells you that corn is bad for your dog, simply look at the results of Redpaw, it speaks for itself.

Is this more puffery from another dog food manufacturer?

Well, as Morris notes, look at the records of Lance Mackey, Marin Buser, Eddy and Amy Streeper, and all the rest who are winning in competitive sled dog trials after training their dogs with Redpaw Poweredge 32K, Eagle Pack Super Premium, or Purina HiPro.

Could it be -- just maybe --that they know something about corn that hyper-ventilating food-faddist on doggie list-servs do not?

Which is not to say that I would recommend a couch-potato dog start chowing down on Redpaw 32K or Eagle Pack Super Premium.

These two dog foods have a 20 percent fat content, which is probably the minimum needed for dogs running several hundred miles a week, but which is too rich for dogs not engaged in such competitive training.

Feeding the average suburban dog a 20-30 percent fat diet (most mushers add fatty meat to their dog kibble during really heavy training days and during the race itself) is a bit like a suburan homeowner chowing down on the same high-energy foods as olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

Remember: If a dog (or a human) eats like an athlete, but does not work out like an athlete, the result is predictable -- FAT.

So what should your dog be eating?

In my book, most dog owners cannot go wrong with any grocery-store bought Purina or Pedigree product with a fat content of about 10 to 12 percent, and a protein content of about 25 percent.

And, of course, it will do your dog no harm if you supplement this diet with an occasional frozen chicken wing, fried egg, or handful of snap beans.

Of course, for the average couch-potato, agility-dog, or ball-chaser, almost any dog food will be fine.

The main thing, is simply to not feed your dog too much.

Veterinarians and human doctors rarely see dogs or humans in trouble from nutritional deficits.

On the other hand, both see dogs and humans every day that are dying from obesity.

With food (both human and canine), quality is generally less important than quantity, and less food is almost always a better health choice than too much.

And as for the folks who are busy lecturing the world about the evils of corn-based dog food, be advised that these people are full of hot air.

There is not one long-term, peer-reviewed, double-blind study which shows that corn in dog food is bad. Not one.

But there is the track record of Lance McKey, Martin Buser, Buddy Streeper, and all the rest, which suggests the exact opposite.

The lesson here is that corn is NOT crap, even if some of the advice to be gleaned from list-servs and dog food faddists is.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Old Man

This is Trooper, my ancient Border Terrier. He's a wonderful old gentleman, as deaf as a post now, with a tumor on his stomach and almost nothing left of his side teeth due to his propensity to chew on sticks and rocks. He went out with Chris and I last month, and got to see his last raccoon up close and personal, but his back legs are quickly giving out on him, and he is starting to lose his mind.

It is this last bit -- his mind -- that is the worry right now, as he has taken to howling even though he is clearly in no physical pain. He howls because he is bewildered and already has one foot in the next world even as his legs are slipping out from underneath him in this one.

There is a season to all things, and I think Trooper's time is not too far into the future. I am taking it week by week with Trooper. We are old friends, and I will do right by him if I can. I do not want to rush his time on Earth, but I cannot keep him here forever.

Today my son took these pictures - my fatherly way of letting him know that Trooper's time is close. How much time does he have left, he wanted to know? I could not answer. I do not know.


Newspapers: Back to the Future

This is not a parody. This is a real TV news report from 1981, and, and I was there, in a sense, and maybe you were too.

In college, I used to try to write fiction on a Mainframe in a program called "Doctor." Then the old "Trash 80" came out, but I skipped over that as my father (generous man!) bought me an Osborne 1, and then a KayPro II. Then at work we had dedicated Burroughs word processors, and then later the association put up $110,000 (a staggering sum!) for an "IBM Series I" which is a computer with a 386 chip which could run a membership data base. This was all before Bill Gates, and everything was run on CPM not DOS.

The first graphics-based browser came along (Spry Mosaic), and then Apple kicked up the jam, even if they did not kick down the door in the world of business.

In the world of real jobs and real pay checks, we all went with IBM which embraced DOS, but the IBM machine was far more expensive than it should have been, and I remember going to little Vietnamese "screw driver shops" to get knock-off computers built for home use.

In the world of memory storage, we went from tape drives to big floppies and even big Bernoulli Disks. These traversed to small floppies and interal hard drives, and then external zip drives. Pretty soon everyone had email, and then list-servs and bulletin boards were developed, exploded, and then died away like the electronic weeds that they were.

Compaq computers soared like a rocket and then fell like a rock, and Dell Computers began its march into the mail order marketplace, while Best Buy colonized the mall. Small floppies traversed to CD Roms which have now traversed to thumb drives and online get-it-anywhere viritually unlimited free data storage.

Larrry Page and Sergey Brin created Google, which created Blogger and GMail and Google Reader, and .. well it just keeps going doesn't it?

Pierre Omidyar created Ebay, naming it after the Ebola virus (didn't know that did you?), while Jimmy Wales created Wikipedia, and Jeff Bezos created Amazon.

Today, my cell phone has more computer capacity and cool features than anything we could image or afford in 1981. Not only can it get the print news, it can get the weather, doppler radar, and many live television channels, such as CNN, and ABC and Fox. My cell phone can also play the radio, has an MP3 player in it, and can browse the Internet. It has a camera and a small video recorder. It has voice-recognition software in it, and also Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology, so if I am far from home and need a veterinarian, I just have to speak to it ("Veterinarian"), and not only will it find the vet, it will figure out where I am, map the travel route, and give me audio and visual turn-by-turn directions on how to get there. Of course, it also gets email and instant messages. And the whole thing is so small that when it's in my pocket I have to check to make sure it is even there. Cost? Less than $100 for the phone, and my unlimited service for everything costs less than what I paid for voice service alone just four years ago.

So is the world still going straight to hell in a handbasket?

No. Now it's going straight to hell in an electronic wastebasket!

Chris Bliss :: Ballet With Balls


Chris Bliss performing an amazing juggling routine to the Beatles song Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End. Hat tip to Teddy M. for this one!

Change You Can Believe In


I'm Sure They'll Be on the Market Soon


Friday, February 20, 2009

Why Dogs are in Better Shape Than Their Owners

A U.K. study concludes that pet food is healthier, under the Food Standards Agency’s "traffic light" program than most of the food people are eating.

Noted John Searle, the scientist who carried out the pet food analysis at the British Government accredited Global food testing laboratory in Burton-upon-Trent:

It would not do a human any harm to eat this cat and dog food. The taste would be a bit different from what you’d expect, but nutritionally it is fine.

Makers of pet foods include the same multinationals — such as Nestlé and Mars — that make human foods but, ironically, the pets foods are generally healthier what is being served to humans.

Notes The London Times:

The laboratory analysis found some positive signs for human food — fibre, for example, which is an important aid to digestion, was lower in the pet food.

However, on key measures the pet food came out well. The unhealthiest fast food item was KFC chicken pieces, which contain 23.2g of fat per 100g and 1.9g of salt. If a KFC meal is eaten with fries, the figures are lower. While a McDonald’s Big Mac contains 10.7g of fat per 100g, a combined meal with fries has an average 12g.

In addition to the products tested in the laboratory, 30 human foods and 15 pet foods were compared using their labels. The pet food consistently outperformed the human in terms of health.

So there it is: Your dog is probably eating better than you are.

And that is probably true even if you are feeding your dog "Old Roy" and you are paying extra money for grass-fed beef and organic vegetables.

Remember: the most important part of any human or canine diet is not quality, it's quantity.

Veterinarians see dogs all day long, and they almost never see a dog that is malnourished, but everyday, several times a day, they see dogs dying and in pain from obesity.

Human doctors tell much the same story.

Bottom line: How much is in the bowl is far for important than what's in the bag.

And YES, your dog probably is eating healthier than you are!


Best EBay Home Deal of the Day

Centrally located, post-apocalypse approved, good on utilities, lots of storage, parking, a couple of acres, running water, and a history that involves Ike and Tina Turner, the MC5, and Ted Nuggent.

What's not to like??!! Check it out!

For those who are more into the castle thing, see >> here

Tastes Like Chicken

From National Geographic:

A rare quail from the Philippines was photographed for the first time before being sold as food at a poultry market, experts say.

Found only on the island of Luzon, Worcester's buttonquail was known solely through drawings based on dated museum specimens collected several decades ago.

This is the best thing that has ever happened to this bird species.

Not only is it clearly not extinct, but it is rare bird that will now get protection and put into a captive breeding program as well.

God bless the klieg lights of publicity.

Dog Food: Let's Try Science!

Did you know that there have been no long-term, peer-reviewed, double-blind studies which conclude any benefit to a RAW diet for dogs?


And can ANYONE find a single long-term, peer-reviewed, double-blind study which shows that ANY dog food is better than another?

Can anyone find a single long-term, peer-reviewed, double-blind study which shows that corn in dog food is bad?

I keep asking, and so far no one has anything.


Here we have a billion-dollar-a-year industry in a country with hundreds of thousands of scientists, thousands of wonderful laboratories, hundreds of peer-reviewed journals, and there appears to be NOT ONE study, anywhere, that says one dog food is better than another based on evidence gathered in a real live-dog double-blind feed trial.

Nor is there ONE study which says corn in dog food is bad.

Not one.

And, let's face it, it's not because the for-profit high-dollar pet food industry is not heavily incentivized to find such a study.

If you build a better dog food and can prove it, people will pay.

But, of course, no one can.

Silence can also tell a story.

But to hear silence, you must clear your mind and really listen.

  • Note: If you actually have SCIENCE, i.e. a long-term, peer-reviewed, double-blind study please post in comments, otherwise do not. I am looking for evidence, not more recycled mumbo-jumbo, anecdote and opinion. Read the title.

    This country (this world!) is crawling with large commercial kennels and crowded dog shelters. Most real dog food companies run live feed trials. And yet not one will make a claim that their dog food is better than anyone elses.

    Think otherwise? Prove it. Post a link or citation to a long-term, peer-reviewed, double-blind dog food study conducted with real dogs.


Coffee and Provocation

Hounds to Locate Rare Tigers:The Jakarta Globe reports that the Working Dogs for Conservation Foundation (always in the blog roll) will be using dogs to try to locate the last remaining tigers in Cambodia. Camera traps and field surveys have not turned up any evidence of tigers since 2007, and so dogs trained in Russia to find Siberian tigers are being brought in. Hat tip to Buck Denton over at The Conservation Report for this one.

The Power of a One-Line Story:In college, we had contests to see who could write the best one-line short story in the style of a chosen author such as Hemmingway, Faulkner, or Steinbeck. I recounted that small bit information to a friend last week, and he sent me to this site. Beautiful! Click on it and piss yourself laughing.

Jack Russells With Guns:
J.R Absher over at The Outdoor Press Room reports that: "The defense attorney for a Lakewood, Colo. man on trial for aggravated animal cruelty, reckless endangerment and prohibited use of a weapon while drunk is contending that his client, Ryan Hayes, was trying to take a .357 handgun away from his neighbor's Jack Russell terrier, Patches, when the gun discharged, killing the dog." The Denver Post and The Denver Channel have the full story.

American Field's Dog Blog:Here's a a new blog (at least to me) called Strideaway. Check it out. Beautifully done. It's going into the blog roll.

Volunteers of America:
Chas Clifton over at Southern Rockies Nature Blog has joined his local Volunteer Fire Department. Hat's off to that idea, and may I recommend Michael Perry's book Population 485 which is about his work as a small-town VFF? Perry is a wonderful writer, and as funny-smart as they come.

Maybe Just One or None?Sean O. sends this link from the BBC which asks: Is it selfish to have more than two children? My answer is YES, and I went out and did two things about it: got a vasectomy and adopted two children. You can too. Whether you are a hunter who wants to show a commitment to wild places and wildlife, or whether you are a chest-thumping vegan who really wants to show you are committed to living lightly on this earth and doing no harm to animals, think about suiting up and showing up for permanent family planning.

How About We Talk About Pedophile Priests Instead?
Right to Life Catholics (i.e. anti-choice, pro-forced-pregnancy Catholics who do not believe in the U.S. Constitutional separation between Church and State) cannot seem to find any real legislation to oppose, so they have invented legislation and created a whole direct mail campaign around a contrived controversy. Unbelievable. Time magazine has the story.

Terrier Up a Tree:
Ian sends this link from the BBC which shows a puddin' Jack Russell Terrier that thinks it is part squirrel and can climb trees like a cat. Incredible! Of course, my own Pearl is no slouch when it comes to "catching air" either!

What's That Sound?

Plays these sounds with your dog in the room, and see what reaction you get!

All files are simple .wav files and have been on my main www.terrierman web site for years. Most computers can play them without a hitch. If yours can't, do not email me, as I am not tech-support!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Measured Size of Red Fox

The Eastern red fox is an immigrant to the U.S. imported from the U.K. Not surprisingly, our animal is exactly the same size as its European cousin.

Dr. Paolo Cavallini goes through the data on red fox size all over the world and finds chest measurements are surprisingly consistent -- and surprisingly small. >> To read more


Dog World Says It's Time for KC to Check Values

In the run-up to Crufts, a genuinely excellent piece has appeared in Dog World, the publication of the boiled-in-the-oil show-dog set in Great Britain. Read the whole thing, but here's a quick sample:

I know the dog world got very upset by the media accusation of its practising eugenics – but why? Eugenics is ‘the science of improving the population by controlled breeding for desirable genetic characteristics’. In its dictionary form, there is nothing wrong with that idea, despite all its ghastly historical connotations. Indeed, is it not exactly what pedigree dog breeders have been trying to do for hundreds of years – improve individual dog breeds? Of course, the problem does not lie in the act itself but in the interpretation of a desirable genetic characteristic and what improves it. Even historically it was ever thus.

The real problem is that one man’s ‘superb brachycephalic skull’ is another man’s ‘dog who looks as if he walked into a barn door – if he could walk that is because he does seem a little short of breath.’Surely what is happening at the moment is a matter of confusion over priorities and that all important focus. For example, one person choosing a stud dog might think that they would be improving the breed by shortening their bitch’s brachycephalic skull still further to produce extreme breed type. Wow – this one will knock their socks off in the rings!

On the other hand, someone else might say that the only improvement would be achieved by lengthening that same skull so that the nasal passages were less obstructed and the dogs could breathe more easily. Its choice of emphasis is why the Kennel Club and its breed Standards have come in for such a pounding in the press. If breed ‘A’ has such a short skull that it can’t breathe, then it must be the KC’s fault because it publishes the breed Standard that highlights such a skull as desirable. The KC chooses the emphasis and so it must bear the brunt of the criticism when the majority disapprove of the results.....

.... Almost all the pedigree dogs we breed end up in pet homes so, regardless of our desires for the tiny minority who are destined for the show ring, surely we need to respect and respond to the desires of society as a whole? If we continue to set ourselves apart from society’s sensibilities then we run the very real risk of acquiring pariah status which is a dangerous place to be in what is plainly a very judgemental, modern world.

All that has happened since last August begs certain important philosophical questions which must be addressed by each one of us individually and collectively as a hobby, awkward and difficult though they are. >> To read the rest.

Now here's the voice of reason, and the first step down the road to discourse!

Check your values? Yes!

Accept responsibility for publishing breed standards that select for defect? Yes!

Recognize that most dogs, even dogs bred by top show exhibitors, are pets? Yes!

Vow to learn the real history of dogs and the real history of the Kennel Club? Yes!

How could any of this be controversial?

Hat's off to Jessica Holm, the author! Well said, well thought, well done.


Get Rich Quick!

Ad from Popular Science, April 1958

Keeping Up With the Rovers


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Miracle Rabies Test? Maybe Not.

Bernie Madoff was a very good con man ($50 billion up in smoke), and it looks like R. Allen Stanford wasn't so bad either -- it appears he ripped off $8 billion according to yesterday's Wall Street Journal.

So how does a con work?

Well, the first part is to come across as perfectly legitimate. The word "con" comes from the word "confidence," as in "confidence man."

Nothing works better than newspaper clips in this regard, and if they cannot be won legitimately by sustaining the con and getting testimonials from your early marks (as Madoff did), then they can be created quickly by simply putting out a press release with a few golly-gee plausible claims.

They can even be bought if you are willing to put up a few hundred dollars in order to buy a full-page ad masquerading as an article in a local penny-saver advertiser.

And, of course, in this day and age you will need a web site.

To be really effective, the web site should be flashy, but say as little as possible.

The best site will have "get out of jail" language buried in it somewhere -- a line saying the product, diet, get-rich plan or test does not really do what it is supposed to do. "Results may vary." "Examples are for illustrative purposes only." My favorite example is that found in the "Frequently Asked Questions " portion of the Mars WISDOM Panel™ MX test in which they say the test works to identify your breed of dog only if you do not know what breed it is. Perfect!

Remember, con men are not selling steak, they are selling sizzle. They're not selling the pig, they're selling the poke. When you open up the bag, and a cat jumps out, their job is to look you straight in the face and say: "Results may vary."

Now on their web site, and in their press release, it's always good if the con man has a few testimonials and can point to a few credentialed experts or "big names."

Did you know Steven Spielberg parked his money with Bernie Madoff and so too did B'Nai Brith? True!

Now, it would be great if all the testimonials were from real people, and all the credentialed experts were Really Big Names, but there's no reason to get too fussy here. After all, who is going to check? No one!

A PhD in education can be presented as a "Dr." in a medical situation, and you can always pad out a resume with made up expertise in something smart-sounding like "physiology of bio-molecular mechanics" if you cannot find some ancient scientist tottering on the edge of insolvency who will say anything for a few thousand dollars. Can you find a down-on-their heels television star from a minor TV show from the 1960s or 70s? How about a washed out sports figure? There's your perfect spokesperson!

If you are in the business of fishing for dollars, it helps to drop your line in the right waters.

Con men know this, and so they work certain groups very hard. Older Americans are less educated, more trustworthy, and many are also lonely. A perfect mark.

Recent immigrants are also excellent -- if you know their language, they can be plucked like ripe fruit.

Young men and women in emotional distress and searching for answers are often gullible (ask any cult leader), and so too are recent widows and widowers.

Can you establish an affinity through religion or perhaps as an ex-Marine? Praise the Lord! Semper Fie! Perfect.

Of course, the easiest marks are the greedy. Ask any Nigerian grifter working an email scam.

Who doesn't want to get in on the ground floor of the next WalMart, Amazon, or Microsoft?

Who doesn't want to "make millions" with a "wealth building system" based on "winning in the cash-flow business?"

Regular readers of this blog might remember that I have reported before on con men in the world of dogs and cats.

In a post entitled Are Your Gullible? Send Money for Free Test!, I noted that Simon Brodie, the tax cheat who recently started a "Pet Sharing" business has been nailed in court for claiming to have created a "canine influenza" test and a "hypoallergenic cat" which he was only too ready to sell to anyone foolish enough to shell out $4,000 to $7,000 (prices varied).

In fact, as the court noted:

[Brodie] has little background or experience in the market of molecular diagnostic testing. Brodie is unaware of the difference between certain common diagnostic testing techniques, in addition, Brodie testified at deposition that he has never taken a course of a technical or scientific nature, or any courses that focuses on management or business. The evidence shows that any steps Plaintiff took to engage in the proposed business were only preliminary or exploratory in nature. . . In addition, Brodie never developed a formal business plan, Plaintiff had no other employees besides its founder Brodie, Plaintiff never acquired a laboratory or employed a laboratory manager, Plaintiff never contacted an investment bank or venture capital firm to raise capital and Plaintiff never obtained a license to sell the canine influenza test, one of the few products it purported to sell. Furthermore, despite claiming to have a patent pending for its veterinary diagnostic system, aside from Brodie's declaration, Plaintiff has failed to provide the Court with any other evidence regarding the patent."

So what was Brodie's angle?

Hard to say, but I think the goal here was more than selling a few over-priced cats. The goal, I believe, was finding One Perfect Fool who would cough up a lot of "venture capital" money to fund Brodie's pie-in-the-sky "canine influenza test" and "hypoallergenic cat" industries.

What did it matter if there was no market, no science, and no exclusive product?

The goal of a grifter is not to sell steaks; it's to sell sizzle while pocketing steak money.

Was that Brodie's goal? Who knows! The scam never really got off the ground. But if you ask me, that was the mark being played.

OK, but that's yesterday's news. What-cha-got for me today?

Well, I dunno -- you tell me.

You see, a few weeks back, various friends and fellow dog writers lapped down a press release about a new $50 "instant rabies saliva" test.

This test can reduce the number of animals destroyed and save doctors and animal control organizations from the costs associated with traditional testing," said Dyne Immune CEO, Dr. V. James DeFranco, MD.

Hmmmm. Something odd there, but I could not put my finger on it at the moment.

Then, yesterday, Carol Vinzant shot me an email.

Carol is a financial reporter, and a few years back she had called me up when she was writing a story about the high cost of veterinary care. Now she writes on pets for People magazine, and she reads this blog on occasion. She pinged me about something, and I pinged her back about a possible news story (probably a hoax) dealing with Beyonce's dog, Munchie. She was interested. She would check it out. In the interim, what did I know about the company and the people making this new rabies vaccine being touted in the pet press? She mentioned that she had looked up "V. James deFranco, MD" and he appeared to be affiliated with a company selling some sort of oral spray that contained an extract of deer antler velvet "used by movie stars" as well as various products for anti-aging, insomnia, energy and weight loss.

My bullshit meter went through the roof. I suspect Carol knew that it would. She greenlighted me to run with it, and so I did, Googling up a storm in a matter of minutes.

First stop was to check out the original rabies story and the company behind it, "Dyne Immune."

The story had been picked up everywhere, and it all seemed to have been generated by a single press release put out on Marketwire (a pay-to-say press release distribution service).

The press release did not mention a FDA trials, a real research facility, a sponsoring university, or much of anything else.

A quick Google of "Dyne Immune" took me to a very thin web site and a list of characters supposedly affiliated with the company.

I looked for any mention of FDA approval, scientific review, University sponsorship, etc.


Instead, I found a prominent button to an article: "Warwick Valley Humane Society Participates in New Rabies Test."

Eh? That's news?

A quick click on the link, and I found myself looking at an "article" from a local throw-away penny-saver advertiser.

And what did the article say? Nothing! This was not science; this was not even good marketing. It was bad puffery, and it featured a dodgy picture that looked like it was shot in a mobile home.

Terrierman was beginning to smell the familiar odor of rat.

Moving on, I Googled "V. James DeFranco, M.D." and found him affiliated with a company called MaxLife Rewards, but very little else.

That was odd.

You see, according to the Dyne Immune web site, Dr. DeFranco has been everywhere and done quite a lot.

A Google search should have turned up published papers, patents, old speeches, introductory biographies from conference presentations, books, a personal web site, and newspaper clips in which he had been quoted numerous times over the years.

Instead, nothing.

Or almost nothing. I did find a mention of the man as part of tobacco litigation back in 1969 -- 40 years ago.

Hmmm. This was no spring chicken!

Back to "the Google."

What, exactly, is MaxLife Rewards?

Well, it turns out that MaxLife Rewards is a multi-level marketing scheme (i.e. a pyramid scheme) selling dubious health stuff that anyone who is not stupid or insane will stay far away from.

The home page seems to say it all, with a photo of a young slickster giving the "thumbs up" sign, and a little promo squib and a Login/Password box.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.
This looks like an Enzyte commercial!

A few minutes more, and I found this related site.

As soon as I clicked on it, a Windows box popped up on my computer warning me this was probably a "phishing" site and I should NOT give them any information.


Undeterred, I read the sales pitch:

If money were no object, how would your life change?

It is time to unlock the dreams you have kept inside and begin to dream about early retirement, time freedom, a beach-front home, a three-week family vacation each year, or that trip around the world. You may want to use your wealth to help the less fortunate or just spend more time with your children.

Whatever it is you are looking for, MaxLife Research is the vehicle!

Terrierman was definitely starting to smell rodent!

Exploring further, I found that V. James deFranco, MD is affiliated with this very dodgy-looking web site where he is listed as a "staff member."

Eh? This web site has a "staff"?

And then I noticed that this web site refers back to MaxLife Rewards, and that it is looking for someone "who speaks Spanish and has contacts in the Latin market."

Right. Got it now. Latin America. They'll buy anything down there. Not as much education, more trusting of the Internet, a weaker legal system.

Just to confirm my growing suspicions, I Googled the other names associated with Dyne Immune.

First up was "Michael Huchital." A search on the Dyne Immune site found a marketing form and an address at 29 Distillery Rd, Warwick, New York.

A quick search on Zillow confirmed what I suspected: It's a 3-bed, 2-bath house in the rural suburbs of Appalachian New York. No doubt, it's Michael Huchital's home.

I looked back at the Dyne Immune web site and noted that the company said Mr. Huchital was associated with Mount Saint Mary College in New York, but when I looked on that College's web site, his name did not turn up.


I Googled some more and found that Michael A. Huchital was fined $3,750 by USDA for failing to keep rabbits in a minimal standard of care. The court specifically rejected his defense that he ran a research facility.

There is another brief mention of him as being CEO of a startup called Rapid Bio Tests Corporation (assets less than $3,000), but that appears to have fizzled out; Mr. Huchital's employment was terminated after a few months, the company was renamed the Bio-Warm Corporation, and plans were made to begin making some kind of heat-generating cloth.

I Googled Mark L. Anderson (a very common name) and came up with a veterinarian in San Diego, but he is not the right guy. If Dyne Immune's Mark L. Anderson was a veterinarian, you can bet they would have mentioned that fact!

I looked closer at Mr. Anderson's bio on the Dyne Immune web site and noticed that while it describes him as a "toxicologist" it appears his specialty is really the "marketing of dietary supplement products."

Gotcha! A supplements marketing man. The kind of job every toxicologist takes to bolster his reputation in the world of peer-reviewed cutting-edge science.

Or not.

More drilling, and I found this single paper co-written for the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" which puports to examine whether a patented herb-remedy could help maintain testosterone levels in men.

I say purported because only 42 males were studied (split groups of 21), diet was not controlled for, the study was funded by an herb-remedy sales company, and the work was done at the University of Yaounde.

Yaounde? In Cameroon? Jesus, who does research in Cameroon? And why? This is a country where the average income is less than $8 a day. Why wasn't this work done in the U.S. or anywhere else that monkey-meat-on-a-stick is not the local version of fast food?

But at least there was my answer: Mark L. Anderson's real job is not COO of Dyne Immune, but Director of Research & Development at Triarco Industries, a company that sells the kind of natural supplements sold to body builders in mall health and nutrition stores. Got it!

Finally, just for grins, I went to the FDA web site.

For a device, drug, or test kit to be approved in the U.S., it has to get FDA approval. I looked at the main FDA web site, and also at the FDA's Veterinary web site.

Nothing listed for Dyne Immune.

So what's going on here?

You tell me. I have no idea.

All I know for sure is what I have reported here, which is that the more you look the less you find and the shakier the story gets.

I am pretty sure there is no miracle rabies test behind all this.

In fact, the Dyne Immune web site itself says a "negative result does not guarantee that rabies is not present."

There it is: the "get out of jail free" language I have come to look for in these kinds of situations. The price you pay is guaranteed; the product is not.

Not that this is necessarily a con. As I said, who knows?

Third World rabies tests based on quick and cheap saliva samples have been around for a while. Perhaps this is simply a repackaging of that not-too-accurate test.

One thing for sure: the whole thing smells fishy.

Clearly, the goal of the press release was to generate a little "positive press" in order to get someone to come out of the woodwork and throw development cash their way.

Not that there is much to develop. It seems they have a "rabies test" which is not a very good test for rabies.

So am I saying it's all a scam? No. "Results may vary."

But let me ask you this: Why do you need to know? Were you thinking of investing?

Do you need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows?

I did not think so. A word to the wise is generally sufficient.