Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chihuahua Rescues Border Terrier From Cougar

The shame of it all as told by the Associated Press:

PHILOMATH, Ore. — A big cat picked the wrong little dogs for a fight.

Chiquita the Chihuahua chased off a cougar that had pinned Rosie the border terrier in this small Oregon town near the Oregon State University campus.

The dogs' owner, Loren Wingert, said Chiquita and Rosie are tough, but lucky.

The cougar pinned down Rosie, who squealed, but Chiquita persuaded the big cat to flee by barking ferociously.

Wingert lives in a cul-de-sac atop a hill that backs up to a wooded area with deer trails. Warning signs about cougars are posted on the trails.

Wingert said the dogs are fine.

Pearl on the Beach

Pearl's first crab.

Pearl on the beach.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gone Fishing ...

I will be off the computer and in North Carolina for the next week.

I might be able to read an email, but there are no guarantees that I can respond or will respond, as cell phone connections on the Outer Banks may be dodgey, and it's hard to hold a cell phone in one hand and a fly rod in the other.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Kennel Club Couch Potato Club

I am rolling on the floor about this one. It seems a press release has been put out saying that Crufts is going to be sponsored by a company that sells half-priced sofas.

And here's the kicker -- it's TRUE.

A discount SOFA company is sponsoring Crufts!


The dog show circuit that was started by a shotgun maker looking to attract hunters by holding a competition for Pointers and Setters has now devolved to a couch company seeking to attract couch potato matrons and their pampered pooches who are led around on string leads.

DFS to be principle sponsor of Crufts 2010
21 May 2009 By Mary Clarke

Sofa retailer DFS has signed up as the principle sponsor of Crufts 2010. The Kennel Club, which runs the annual dog show, said the deal would make next year’s show better than ever.

DFS chairman Lord Kirkham said: "I am massively excited that DFS will be the principal sponsor of Crufts 2010. The event is part of the fabric of British life and it is always clear to see that dogs enjoy being in the limelight in the show ring, just as much as cuddling up with their owners on the sofa.

"We are proud to be involved in an event that is dedicated to ensuring that dogs have happy, healthy and comfortable lives."

Pedigree Chum was previously the principle sponsor for Crufts and had been involved with the show for 44 years before pulling out in October ahead of the March show.

While the Mars-owned pet food brand said its move away from Crufts was part of a refocusing of its priorities, the decision came in the wake of the controversy surrounding the BBC documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which took a critical view of pedigree breeding practices. Source

Note that in 2004 Lord Kirkham, said "If DFS was a dog, it would be a Crufts champion."

Translation: "We sell products that look good in the picture but they fall to pieces the moment you try and actually put them to use."

And yes, he really said that.

How to Kill Creativity and the Cost of Doing That

Ken Robinson on education. Listen to the very end.

Got a Bulldog ... or Beer ... or Both?

Cast Iron Bulldog Bottle Opener from Rejuvenation. Finally, they found a use for brachycephalicism!

Danish Earthdog Setup

The above picture is of a Danish den dog trial set up. Similar setups are done in Ukraine, Sweden, Germany, Finland, and several other countries, but with somewhat different designs from location to location.

In this design, there is an incline in one section in the middle and a spot where the dog is in a pit below the quarry. To get to the quarry at that location, the dog has to leap up 60 cm on to the ledge next to the drum or "kessel" (pot). This section can be closed off for a simple trial.

The drum on the far right is rotated so that the "quarry" (a live fox or badger) can escape out a side door and run from down the tunnel to another drum (not shown) which is then rotated half way to put bars between the dog and the game.

The fox and badger are very relaxed about the whole thing (they've been doing it their whole lives and are lept as pets) and the dogs get to run around a bit and see if they have voice and whether they will stick to the job even in in non-contact situation. There is no digging and no actual contact between the dog and the fox or badger.

The den pipes are generally too big with these things to suit my taste (9" by 9" is common) and so bigger dogs are able to act as if they have the stuff even when some of them could not get down a real pipe.

That said, this is fun sport for folks without the desire or without the physical ability to take their dogs into the field to do real hunting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Coffee and Provocation

  • Thank God for Hang Fire:
    4The bad news is that American bullets are being used against us by the Taliban.
    4The good news is that those bullets have a very high rate of hang fire due to the fact that they are 50-year old Chinese munitions, repackaged in Albania and sold to the U.S. military by a 21-year old kid in Miami for $298 million. Thanks Dick Cheney! Thanks George W. Bush! Thanks Don Rumsfeld!

  • Paranoids for Conservation!
    Gun nuts, survivalists and paranoids are hoovering up guns, and taxes on those gun purchases are helping to fund wildlife land conservation. During the last quarter of 2008, the Treasury collected $27.6 million from sales of pistols and revolvers, $35.0 million for long guns (rifles and shotguns) and $35.5 million for ammunition. Compared to the same quarter in 2007, collections were up 70.1 percent for handguns, 11.4 percent for long guns and 31.1 percent for ammunition.

  • Screw Civil Liberties and Pass the Ammunition!
    Remember the right wing militias? Glenn Greenwald does. Over on Salon, he writes:
    "Bill Clinton's election in 1992 gave rise to the American 'militia movement': hordes of overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men from suburban and rural areas who convinced themselves they were defending the American way of life from the 'liberals' and 'leftists' running the country by dressing up in military costumes on weekends, wobbling around together with guns, and play-acting the role of patriot-warriors. . . . What was most remarkable about this allegedly 'anti-government' movement was that -- with some isolated and principled exceptions -- it completely vanished upon the election of Republican George Bush, and it stayed invisible even as Bush presided over the most extreme and invasive expansion of federal government power in memory. Even as Bush seized and used all of the powers which that movement claimed in the 1990s to find so tyrannical and unconstitutional -- limitless, unchecked surveillance activities, detention powers with no oversight, expanding federal police powers, secret prison camps, even massively exploding and debt-financed domestic spending -- they meekly submitted to all of it, even enthusiastically cheered it all on. " ... Read the whole thing.

  • Tastes Like Chicken I:
    Heather Houlahan over at Raised by Wolves has a great piece on hybrids and heterosis that is well worth the read, especially if you are a dog owner or a chicken eater. And while you are cruising the family tree of her chickens, click on the picture of the Sebright rooster at the bottom of yesterday's post about John Henry Walsh. What a pretty bird, eh? Strictly ornamental, but a nice addition to a small flock anyway.

  • Tastes Like Chicken II:
    A French fossil expert says he think he know
    what happened to all those Neanderthals that once roamed the earth: We ate them! Fernando Rozzi, of Paris's Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique writes in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences that his analysis of Neanderthal remains shows that they were butchered by modern humans and that we used their teeth used to make necklaces.

  • 177 Million Cars Off the Road:
    On May 19, President Barack Obama unveiled new fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. In the future, car and trucks are going to have to get better gas mileage. Right now the standard is 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 24 mpg for light trucks.
    Starting in 2012, fuel efficiency will rise more than 5 percent each year. New standards for 2016: 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for light trucks. This little change is the energy equivalent of taking 177 million of today’s cars off the road.

  • PETA Time!
    Michael Vick is getting out of jail. No word yet on when he does his PETA commercial. Dog killers of the world unite!

  • There's More to Living Than Longevity:
    That said, how long animals live is a matter of small interest, and the numbers are often quite surprising.

  • Words from the Wise:
    My father was recently writing aphorisms for the grandkids, but Frank Warren, the fellow behind the Post Secret blog, figured out the lazy way to do it. In order to prepare his commencement address for St. Mary’s College in Maryland, he asked members of the graduating class to write a one-sentence response to the question “What do my classmates, and I, need to hear on Graduation Day?” Here are a few of the answers that came in over the transom. 1: Be wise enough not to be reckless, but brave enough to take great risks. 2: It’s okay to fail – learn from it and you will succeed. 3: It’s better to be pissed-off than pissed-on. 4: Wash your hands religiously. 5: In the real world, you must wear shoes.

  • Noodling from Two Sides of the Same Planet:
    Catfish noodling in America and Rock Python noodling in Cameroon.

  • Only Domestic, Please:
    Foreign porn banned from Egypt

  • Protecting Heritage and History:
    James Marchington notes that Arab falconers are making a submission to have falconry recognised by UNESCO as an 'Intangible Cultural Heritage' and wonders whether shooting is missing a trick? Shooting? That's a good deal more legal and less culturally unique to the U.K. than terrier work. But don't blame me if the British still don't get it -- I once tried to elevate working terriers as an Icon of England.

  • Have You Ever Seen . . . ?
    A Congregation of Alligators, a Shrewdness of Apes, a Sleuth of Bears, an Obstinacy of Buffalo, an Exaltation of Larks, a Flutter of Butterflies, a Murder of Crows, a Wake of Buzzards, a Clowder of Cats, an Army of Caterpillars, a Peep of Chickens, an Intrusion of Cockroaches, a Convocation of Eagles, a Mob of Emus a Business of Ferrets, a Leash of Foxes, an Unkindness of Ravens, a Crash of Rhinoceroses, a Wreck of Seabirds, a Prickle of Porcupines, a Pride of Lions, a Leap of Leopards, a Lounge of Lizards, or a Cackle of Hyenas? No? Me either.

Barack and Bo, May 12, South Lawn. Click for bigger.

Come to Somalia: Libertarian Paradise!

Government-free since 1991!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Automatic Dog Washing Machine

A Frenchman has come up with an automatic dog washing machine.

All I can say is "good luck to gettting my dogs in there the second time!"


Facebook for Dogs

Related Post: I Don't Do Facebook

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kennel Club Memories of Working Jack Russells

From: The Kennel Club: a History and Record of Its Work‎ (1905) by Edward William Jaquet (PDF, 476 pages):

In addition to the [15 Member Kennel Club] Committee, the general list of [100 Kennel Club] members at this time contained many names which have become household words in connection with dog breeding.

One of the first of these was the Rev. John Russell, of Barnstaple, the sporting parson better known as " Jack " Russell. Mr. Russell joined the Club in 1873, and remained a member until his decease in 1883. At the time of his death he was considered the oldest Fox Terrier breeder in England. He started his strain (the "Jack Russell Terrier") at Oxford, when he was eighteen, and more than fifty years afterwards had pedigrees that he could trace from the time he began to breed them. Mr. Russell's terriers in working condition did not scale more than 15lbs., some even less, and between forty and fifty years ago they formed a very distinct type. He judged Fox Terriers at the Kennel Club Show at the Crystal Palace in June, 1874.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

John Russell's Bagged Fox

From Alys Serrell's 1904 book, With Hound and Terrier in the Field , we learn that the famous Rev. John Russell was not above using bagged foxes.

That makes me feel a bit better about my own efforts, on foot, to locate a fox to ground (and without hounds!) on a cold winters day with the wind howling down around my ears.

How much easier terrier work must be if you are, in essence, engaging in a canned hunt -- and probably with paid diggers too!

It was through his friend Mr Yeatman that my father made the acquaintance of the Rev. John Russell, of Devonshire fame, another choice spirit of the clerical circle whose interests were not bounded by their parochial duties. My father was staying at Stock House when he heard his host lamenting that, owing to his hunting establishment being very short of hands, he did not know how to get some hounds to the Rev. Jack Russell, which he had promised by a certain day.

Being young and always eager where hounds were in question, my father volunteered to take the draft to Iddesleigh, in Devonshire, and to deliver them within the time specified. This meant a long and weary journey by road. But, nothing daunted, my father was off at daybreak with a large piece of cheese in his pocket, with which he coaxed the hounds along till they grew accustomed to him, and he accomplished the odd eighty miles on horseback in the stipulated time.

This was the sort of thing to appeal to Mr Russell. He was very pleased, and gave my father the warmest of welcomes. That night as the two men were sitting at dinner my father expressed his regret that the next day was not one of Mr Russell's hunting days, as he had to go off early in the morning of the day after to enable him to keep his term at Oxford. He expressed so much disappointment at not seeing the famous hounds in the field, that at last Mr Russell exclaimed, " Look here, my boy, you shall see them, if you don't mind turning out at day-break. There is a fox shut up in the saddleroom that was brought me to-day, and we will see if we can't dust his jacket for him." It was in the early spring, and a move was made to the stables the following morning before it was light. The men being roused, the horses were soon saddled, and all was ready for departure. The kennel lad was sent off on a rough pony with the fox in a bag, which he was ordered to let out at a certain spot, and then hounds were unkennelled and they started in pursuit. A glorious spin over a fine wild country followed, at the end of which the fox made good his escape, and the two sportsmen returned home in good time, as hounds had to Innit the next day. From that time Mr Russell and my father often met, both in Devon and in Dorset.




Wednesday, May 13, 2009

FDA Wants to Classify Cheerios as a Drug

The FDA has sent a warning letter to General Mills saying that unless they remove the unproven health claims made on boxes of Cheerios, they may force the cereal company to reclassify its product as a drug.

No, I am not making this up.

Now the only real question is whether the FDA is going to get Mocked to Death on Capitol Hill.

How can an agency which does so little on so much, claim it has time for this nonsense?

All at Sea at the AKC

AKC registrations have declined 55% in 15 years.

What happened? Nothing.

And that’s the problem

Following the showing of
Pedigree Dogs Exposed on the BBC, the Kennel Club has had to face one basic question: Can it survive into the 21st Century by hanging on to 19th century theories and show ring exaggerations that are antithetical to canine health?

“Don’t rock the boat too much,” some have advised. “Look what happened in America when they tried to change things -- AKC registrations dropped like a rock.”

Well yes, it’s true that American Kennel Club registrations have plummeted. Over the course of the last 15 years, registrations have declined 55 percent, even as the number of dogs in American homes has increased.

But why the decline? It’s not because the AKC did not change, but because it didn’t!

Here’s the story: In 1987, a reporter for Parade, the largest circulation magazine in the country, did an expose on the fact that a lot of the dogs registered by the American Kennel Club were deformed, diseased, and defective. The reporter pointedly asked AKC President William F. Stifel whether the Club would register a blind, deaf, three-legged purebred pup with hip dysplasia and green fur. The answer: "We would register the dog. AKC, unfortunately, does not mean quality."

The American public heard that message loud and clear, and they soon began voting with their wallets. The movement away from AKC dogs had begun.

The decline started slowly, but was kicked forward in December of 1994, when Time magazine did a cover story entitled “A Terrible Beauty.” The subtitle summed up the contents: “An obsessive focus on show-ring looks is crippling, sometimes fatally, America's purebred dogs.”

The AKC, of course, tried to fend off its critics. "We’re just a registry” they explained. If there were problems with the dogs, those complaints should be directed to the breed clubs.

But the breed clubs have very little power within the American Kennel Club's structure. They are not able to mandate health checks because the AKC will not allow it, nor can they require performance standards for a championship, nor can they ban pet store sales.

In addition, breed clubs are dominated by established show dog breeders whose personal interest lies more with blue ribbons and commerce than in long-term considerations about breed health. There are some problems in some lines, these breeders will tell you, but never in theirs!

Ironically, the Kennel Club's "just a registry" defense sounded a lot like a business plan to small-time entrepreneurs. Armed with the newest bit of technology – the personal computer— more than 30 different dog registries sprang up offering scraps of paper with no health guarantee at all.

But wasn’t this exactly what the AKC had been selling all these years? The only difference was these new registries were selling their paper for less!

The pageantry of dog shows were not attached to these new registries, of course, but so what? Most people were not buying dogs to show them; they were simply looking for healthy canine companions and pets. Since American Kennel Club dogs were not healthier than non-AKC dogs, what did it matter if a dog was AKC-registered or not?

In fact, maybe it was better if they wasn’t! The dogs from the local pound were certainly cheaper than a Kennel Club dog, and even the veterinarians said they were generally healthier.

Look at all the inbreeding going on in the Kennel Club. And if you wanted a working dog, you had to go to a registry lke “American Field” or a specialty breeder for that.

And so, over the course of just 15 years, the market for American Kennel Club dogs collapsed.

And what has been the AKC’s reponse?

They have been completely flumoxed. Every suggestion has been met by an indignant non-sensical reply.

How about jettisoning breed standards steeped in exageration and deformity? But exaggerations and deformities define so many breeds!

How about requiring heath testing for breeding stock? But the AKC has never had health standards before!

How about mandating lower Coefficients of Inbreeding? Why? What's wrong with inbreeding?

How about opening closed registries in order to broaden gene pools? But then the dogs wouldn't be pure breeds -- they’d be mutts!

And so, left to its own devices, what has the American Kennel Club come up with for a new economic model?

Believe it or not, it’s the registration of more puppy mill dogs bred like chickens in battery cages!

As AKC Chairman Ron Menaker wrote in a September 2008 missive to the delegates:

“Today, we are losing market share at an alarming rate, especially in the retail sector… Make no mistake, the very future of the AKC and our sport is at risk.... We can all remember some of the premier ‘name brands’ and companies of the past, leaders in their field. The ones that we thought would be around forever. These giants, these household names, held the same standing as the AKC. Companies such as: Westinghouse, Pan American Airlines, Standard Oil Company, EF Hutton, Woolworth’s, Montgomery Ward, just to name a few. …. AKC used to dominate the marketplace. Even [department stores] like Macy’s and Gimbels sold AKC puppies. Many pet owners who bought these puppies, and I was one of them, tried their hand at showing and breeding. These owners who purchased their first purebred from a retail outlet, not only added to AKC’s registrations, but those who wanted to advance in the sport, then sought out fanciers to continue their journey. . . . If the current trend continues and dog registrations decline to 250,000 over the next several years, AKC will face an annual revenue shortfall of $40 million.”

And so, the American Kennel Club has decided to bank their hope on the mass-production of puppy mill dogs, while holding tight to the proven failure of 19th Century breeding practices which have wrecked the health and working ability of breed after breed.

But, of course, there’s more to it than that.

You see, while the American Kennel Club has shown no real interest in changing its system of exaggerated standards and closed gene pools, it has made peace with the idea of collecting kickback referal money from veterinarians and pet insurance salesmen

“Sure, we’ll sell you poison,” they seem to be saying, “but we’ll sell you the antidote as well.”

Of course, the American people are not buying it. American Kennel Club registrations continue to slide into the toilet, and things have not been helped by the Internet, which has made it harder to sustain lies about quality and history.

Not only can owners of wrecked Kennel Club dogs now find each other with ease, but they can also post videos and educate others about the troubles they face. Breed specific list-servs and health sites now summarize academic research, health surveys, and data gleaned from pet insurance databases.

And, of course, anyone in America with a computer can now see Pedigree Dogs Exposed, while anyone in Great Britain with an internet connection can see ABC’s recent Nightline program, which told much the same story.

All of this, paradoxically, is good news for the dogs and for the U.K. Kennel Club.

It is good new for the dogs because, finally, it appears that some change may be at hand which will improve the miserable health of pedigree dogs.

And it is good news for The Kennel Club because, if they need any spur to reform, they need only look across the pond to see the high price for failing to change at all.

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Too Close to True


Dog Food for Deformed Dogs

How twisted are dogs today? It truly boggles the mind.

Consider this: Dog food companies now make dog food for deformed dogs!

No, this is not a joke. As the Royal Canin dog food company notes:

Royal Canin Pug 25 is specially designed for the breed’s brachycephalic
face, which means he finds it very difficult to pick up a flat kibble.

Instead, a cloverleaf shaped kibble is easy to pick up, with a texture which makes the dog want to crunch, providing mechanical brushing for the teeth and helping to slow down the build up of dental plaque.... The shortness of the Pug’s muzzle and fineness of coat clearly shows off the folds around his face, but this area can retain humidity and therefore encourage irritation. Pug 25 contains a patented complex of four B vitamins and an amino acid to help support the barrier function of the skin .....

Regular, gentle exercise and avoiding strong heat and intense effort are important for the Pug – maintaining muscle tone is essential, but the shortness of his nasal passages makes him prone to breathlessness. Pug 25 is based on ultradigestible (over 90%) proteins and a combination of fibres to help stimulate digestive transit and protect intestinal flora....

Think this is the only one? Think again! There's a similar food for brachycephalic cats, like Persians, which have been so wrecked by show fanciers they too have a hard time eating. As Royal Canin notes:

The Persian is known for its long, beautiful coat and brachycephalic (flat) face. Cats with flat facial characteristics use the lower side of their tongue to pick up kibbles – which is why an almond shape kibble is easier for them to eat. Additionally, the average total length of the hair on a Persian cat is 30 miles, making skin and coat health, along with hairball management, a top priority.


So let me say it simply: If a dog or cat cannot eat on its own, we need to stop breeding it and go straight to euthenasia.

We need to start a national inquiry into how and who allowed this thing to happen on a scale so large that we now have companies selling pet food for deformed and defective dogs and cats.

And we need to hit in the head with a brick anyone who defends positively selecting dogs and cats for deformities such as brachycephalicism and achondroplasia.

Enough is enough.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

FREE Books, Books, Books

In the sidebar to this blog, I've loaded up links to a number of old books which are now available, online, as either PDFs, flip books or text. In most case, the link will take you to examples of all three versions.

Book are arranged, rather roughly by type, and chronologically within type. If a book is out of chronological order, it means that the print version is a later print version of an earlier text.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Kennel Club Stud Book - 1884

In an effort to recover lost memory, I have put up a PDF copy of the 1884 Calendar and Stud Book of The Kennel Club (U.K) (330 pages).

For those paying careful attention, note that on the front page it says the Kennel Club Calendar and Stud Book were published at 346 Strand, the "Field" office.

This is a reference to "Field" magazine, whose editor, John Henry Walsh, was also a judge at the first dog show held in 1859.

John Henry Walsh wrote under the name "Stonehenge," and was also the person who came up with the Kennel Club's point system.

How much did Walsh know about dogs? I will let others judge that themselves when I put up a link to his 1859 book on dogs and dog breeding.
. ..

Coffee and Provocation

Brain Dead in Michigan:
The auto industry is not the only thing dying in Michigan. It turns out that the great brains in that state
plan to kill 10,000 cormorants so they will not compete with anglers for fish.

More Stuff Named After Steven Colbert:
Scientists have named a newly discovered species of beetle, Agaporomorphus colberti, in honor of comedian Stephen Colbert. He already has an eagle, a falcon and a NASA treadmill named after him.

Desert Whales:
Stone masons cutting Egyptian limestone in Italy discovered that the kitchen counter tops they were working on contained a 40-million year old fossilized whale skull.

A Slogan for the Modern Newspaper Industry:
This needs to be a T-Shirt: "Save our newspapers: Because it’s hard to raise puppies without them".

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Tales of Terriers Too Big

I have been doing a LOT of reading of old books and have come away with one general observation: Mounted fox hunting does not have much to do with terrier work!

A 50-year history of the Grafton Hunt (published in 1900) mentions a terrier only once, and just in passing!

So what is this book about? People long dead, that no one cared about even when they were alive!

A close reading of dozens of other books on mounted fox hunting finds little mention of either terriers or hounds and, as a group, they can all be flushed with few exceptions. I will talk about the exceptions in later posts.

For now, let me mention one book, written in 1826, and entitled "Observations on Fox-hunting and the Management of Hounds in the Kennel and the Field, Addressed to Young Sportsman, about to Undertake a Hunting Establishment." Here we find two short tales of terriers.

With regard to the use of Terriers in the field; — they are no doubt sometimes of service, particularly when Foxes use drains, but if they are not perfectly steady, they will do a great deal of mischief. They should invariably be entered with the young hounds, and always be kept in the kennel.

As a matter of curiosity, I here give you an instance or two of the extraordinary length of time terriers will exist without food; one occurred the other day. I was staying at a friend's house in Hertfordshire, who had lost a favourite terrier seven days: on going out to look at his sporting dogs near the house, he thought he heard the voice of his lost dog. He recollected the last time it was seen was near the mouth of a drain, upwards of two hundred yards from the spot from whence the sound came. He immediately ordered his workmen to open the drain, and they found the terrier jammed in a narrow part of it ; the animal appeared lively, and not the worse for her long fasting, except being a little reduced in flesh, and the next day very lethargic.

I heard at the same time a still more extraordinary instance of a terrier remaining in an earth for twenty days, and I dare venture to vouch for the truth of it. The Hatfield hounds had run a Fox to ground, and the terrier followed it in. They dug many hours without coming up to the fox or the dog ; and at last were obliged to give it up as a hopeless job. The terrier was the property of old Joe, the then whipper-in, and a great favourite. He therefore had the earth watched, and on the twentieth day the dog crawled out a mere skeleton, but with proper attention was recovered.

A small observation: The use of over-large terriers has been normalized in the U.K. by the presence of many land drains and the large number of badger earths which a fox can use to get to ground.

An over-larger terrier in a branching drain system, of course, is a problem, as a fox with a 14" chest span can slide into a 9" pipe with ease, and then quite easily slide down a 6" pipe that branches off it.

The too-large terrier, of course, will be fine in a 9" drain, but in the 6" inch drain into which the fox has entered, things are going to be very tight, and for the terrier getting stuck is very likely.

Today, of course, we have electronic terrier locator collars, but in 1824 there was no such thing. The best you could do was drive a bar into the ground, put a cup to the bar, and listen. If the dog was 20 feet away and still shallow, you might get a read, but if it was 40 yards away, and running deep, you were out of luck, and so was the dog.

For more on the problems that come with over-reliance on large drains and artificial earths, see Out of the Ring and Into the Den and Artificial Dens, Big Dogs and Fair Chase.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Old School Hunting ... VERY Old School

A "persistence hunt" of a Kudu, by members of the San tribe in the Kalahari Desert.

Save the Antelope!

When they assigned me to protect the Thompson's Gazelles in my area, I had no idea how much work that would be!

The Blind Clerk at Cabella's ...

A woman goes into Cabela's to buy a rod and reel for her grandson's birthday. She doesn't know which one to get so she just grabs one and goes over to the counter.

A Cabela's associate is standing there wearing dark shades. She says, 'Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me anything about this rod and reel?'

He says, 'Ma'am, I'm completely blind; but if you'll drop it on the counter, I can tell you everything from the sound it makes.'

She doesn't believe him but drops it on the counter anyway. He says, 'That's a six-foot Shakespeare graphite rod with a Zebco 404 reel and 10-LB. Test line. It's a good all around combination; and it's on sale this week for only $20.00..'

She says, 'It's amazing that you can tell all that just by the sound of it dropping on the counter. I'll take it!' As she opens her purse, her credit card drops on the floor.

'Oh, that sounds like a Master Card,' he says.

She bends down to pick it up and accidentally farts. At first she is really embarrassed, but then realizes there is no way the blind clerk could tell it was she who tooted. Being blind, he wouldn't know that she was the only person around?

The man rings up the sale and says, 'That'll be $34.50 please.'

The woman is totally confused by this and asks, 'Didn't you tell me the rod and reel were on sale for $20.00? How did you get $34.50?'

He replies, 'Yes, Ma'am. The rod and reel is $20.00, but the Duck Call is $11.00 and the Catfish Bait is $3.50.'

Boulder Dam's Canine Grave

If you go to Hoover Dam, you will find a dog grave and plaque, but the name of the black dog is never alluded to. We live in a different time, thank goodness, and without apology.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Terrier Classification in the AKC Stud Book of 1889

The AKC Stud Book of 1889 classified Fox Terriers in the "Sporting Class" (see above), along with Setters, Pointers, Retrievers, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds Greyhounds, Deerhounds and Fox Hounds.

The same stud book classified all other terriers as "Non-Sporting" (see below).

For those interested in seeing the entire AKC stud book of 1889, I have loaded it up to the web site. The PDF is about 500 pages.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You Look Like a Monkey and Smell Like One Too

To find the parts of our genome that make us human, scientists wrote a computer program that searched for the DNA sequences that have changed the most since humans and chimpanzees diverged from their last common ancestor. Topping the list was a 118-letter snippet of code known as human accelerated region 1 (HAR1). This region of the genome changed very little for most of vertebrate evolution, with chimp and chicken sequences differing by just two letters. Human and chimp HAR1s, however, differ by 18 letters, suggesting that HAR1 acquired an important new function in humans.

Below is the same snippet of HAR1 DNA showing the difference between chicken (bottom), chimp (middle) and man (top) with color blocks denoting DNA changes from the previous iteration. >> Source: Scientific American (May 2009)


Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

From the web site of The Candies Foundation:

In June 2001, Candie’s launched The Candie’s Foundation, with the mission to educate America's youth about the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancy. The Foundation fuels a celebrity-driven public service announcement campaign that dramatically exposes the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancy, while educating and challenging America’s youth to make healthy decisions about sex.

From the front page of the same web site:

Bristol Palin has been named as an "ambassador" for The Candie's Foundation.


In other news, Captain Ahab will be heading Greenpeace's "Save the Whales campaign... Charles Manson will be leading the Family Values Coalition .... John Travolta will be heading the National Prayer Breakast... Rush Limbaugh will be heading Americans for a Drug-Free Tomorrow... and Michael Vick will be a spokesperson for PETA.

UPDATE: Bristol Palin says she is pushing what failed for her: abstinence. She says this is a "realistic" idea. Of course, there's two sides to every coin (fantasy and reality in this case) and "Baby Daddy" Levi Johnston says abstinence is unrealistic, and he really, really, really wishes he had worn two condoms that night with Bristol.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rawdon Lee :: The Fox Terrier, 1902

Chapter I, Paragraph One

"With the fashion changing in dogs pretty nearly as frequently as it does in dress, there is little wonder that the fox terrier of the present day has become a different animal in appearance from the one so regular an attendant with packs of hounds a century ago. Now, in nine cases out of ten, he is produced for his beauty alone, for his symmetry, for his graceful contour, for his endearing disposition. When our great grandfathers lived, and before they were born, the fox terrier, bred for use, was only considered an ornament when he went to ground well, was able to successfully battle with the fox or the badger, and kill single-handed the foulmart (or polecat) and other predaceous vermin."


Monday, May 04, 2009

Coffee and Provocation

From "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music." Enjoy!

The Ken Salazar Wolf Massacre Starts Today:
Ken Salazar, the new Secretary of the Interior, will be removing wolves from the endangered species list today, which could result in a mass slaughter of wolves in Idaho and Montana.

Leonardo Di Caprio's House:
As Counterpunch put it a while back: “Using Leonardo DiCaprio to tell people to ‘recycle, reduce and re-use’ is kind of like asking a crackhead to promote cocaine abstinence.” Here's why: Leo's little house.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider Went up the Spout Again:
National Geographic reports that even after a wolf spider was drowned for 36 hours, it was able to revive itself without any damage. Apparently wolf spiders can put themselves into comas and shut down all metabolic processes that do not require air.

What Kind of Dog Would Jesus Have Owned?
Who knows? All we know for sure is that a recent excavation of an Egyptian mummy from about that period of time found a small Jack Russell-looking dog inside. The name on the tomb? "Hapi-Men/" And yes, if he owned a dog anything like today's working Jack Russell, you can bet he was!

Here's Why You are Fat:
Want to know why it's so hard to keep the weight off? Head over to to see how many sugar cubes get stacked up in front of a soda, a Starbucks coffee, a muffin, or a McDonald's shake.

Two Dog-murdering Media Whores Find Each Other:
Michael Vick is going to be a PETA Spokesman. No I am not making this up. One has to wonder whether Vick will be giving instructions to PETA staff on how to kill dogs and cats, or whether PETA will be giving instruction to Vick on how to do it all under the guise of being a shelter?

Population Pressures:
Kenya's Masai Mara is losing many of its wild grazing animals due to growing human population.
In other population news, Manhattan was a wonder of nature before humans got their in numbers so large they required roads.

Free Range Kids:
In my day, we didn't need a book about it. But times are different now, so parents with young children might want to read Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy.

John Wilke Was One of the Very Best

"Always cheerful, and incredibly optimistic, cynicism seemed something he was incapable of. We could all stand to be a little like John Wilke."
- - – David Berman

I lost a good friend to pancreatic cancer on Friday.

John R. Wilke was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, and we had worked together on a few stories over the years.

One fun piece had to do with billionaire Mario Gabelli, who was defrauding U.S. taxpayers over the sale of radio bandwidth of the kind used for cell phones. The Federal Government declined the case, and I called up John and gave him the story.

In the best Wilke tradition, the story was put together with seamless stitching, and made it on to the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Twice. Each time with a picture of Gabelli.

Embarrassed by the news coverage, the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice reversed course and joined the lawsuit. Gabelli settled the case shortly thereafter, paying Uncle Sam $135 million.

At about the same time I was pitching Wilke the Gabelli story, I was also pitching him a possible story about a fellow by the name of Bernie Madoff.

Later John took a bit of stick from the chattering class who suggested The Wall Street Journal missed the obvious.

Sorry. Not true. And I guess I should know, as I was there.

Sometimes you hook a fish so large you are pretty sure it's a log and not a fish. Madoff was one of those. If Wilke broke line on this one occasion, it did not mean he was not the best angler on the stream bank that day or any day.

But don't take my word for it: Read any of these columns. And read his obituary in today's Washington Post.

Now, because this is a dog blog, I will conclude with this small note: John was the owner of a Border Collie. "A slick," he was always quick to add, just so you knew that he knew.


And I own a Border Terrier.

Eh? What do they look like, John wanted to know?

I sent him the video below to illustrate the finer points between the two breeds.

John laughed. He got it. He always did. Be good brother; you were always loved.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

Pâté or Dog Food?

You want to know why I stay away from the wine? Because if you drink very much of the stuff, confusion sets in.

Here a hint: If you are wondering if the stuff on the serving board is pâté or dog food, give it a pass!

But no, some people are not willing to leave well enough alone, and so research has to be done.

And it was.

Robin Goldstein of the American Association of Wine Economists and colleague researchers provided 18 volunteers five food samples to try in a blind taste test. Only three were able to identify the dog food.

As The Los Angeles Times food blog notes:

[...] The five samples came from a wide price range and were processed to have a similar consistency. The foods were duck liver mousse, pork liver pâté, two imitation pâtés — pureed liverwurst and Spam — and Newman’s Own dog food.

Eight participants believed the liverwurst was the dog food, and four thought the Spam was the culprit.

Two people identified the high-end pâté as dog food, and one identified the duck liver mousse as dog food.

On the upside: 72% rated the dog food as the worst-tasting pâté.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Trooper's Repairing Nicely

Trooper is back from the vet, minus his tumor.

The old man seemed to have a good night, and he is snoring right now on an old moving pad I hauled in from the garage for him to rest on, as his normal bed is a bit poofy for him to get up on with a weak back section and stitches.