Monday, November 30, 2009
If your veterinarian has your dog on year-round heartworm medication, and you live in a state where the birds actually fly south for the winter, you might want to consider changing vets or at least not following his or her advice on this matter.
Here's why: heartworm can only be transmitted to a dog if the heartworm nematode has completed the first part of its lifecycle inside the body of a mosquito. The first part of that lifecycle can only be completed if the temperature stays above 57 degrees for at least 45 days straight, both day and night.
To read more, see "The Billion Dollar Heartworm Scam " and "Year Round Dosing for Big Veterinary Profits."
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The American Kennel Club has formally announced that it intends to ruin three more breeds of working dogs -- the Redbone Coonhound, the Bluetick Coonhound, and the Boykin Spaniel.
All three dogs will be eligible for AKC conformation shows beginning Dec. 30th.
- The Redbone Coonhound, named after 19th Century raccoon hunter and hound breeder Peter Redbone of Tennessee, has existed in fine fettle and without help from the AKC since the mid-19th Century, and has been registered with the United Kennel Club for more than 100 years. Its rootstock is English Foxhound crossed with Bloodhound.
- The Bluetick Coonhound, named after its coat color and pattern, was devloped in Louisiana and has existed in fine fettle and without help from the AKC since the early 20th Century. It has been registered by the United Kennel Club for more than 60 years. Its rootstock is mostly English Foxhound mixed with Bleu de Gascogne Hound from southwest Franc, Black and Tan Foxhound, and various strains of Louisiana Cur (aka Catahoula Leopard Dog).
- The Bokykin Spaniel was created by L. Whitaker Boykin in South Carolina around 1900, from a mixture of old-style field Cocker Spaniels, Field Spaniel, Water Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Springer Spaniel. The dog is mostly used as a turkey-hunting dog, and is South Carolina's official state dog. The Boykin Spaniel has always had a very small gene pool, and as a consequence the dog is plagued with serious health problems, including a very high incidence of hip dysplasia (over 1/3 of all dogs). Why anyone would want to pull a breed of terminally ill dogs into a closed registry system is beyond me, but the AKC has done it before (and recently) with the Dogue de Bordeaux.
Why is the AKC so eager to bring new breeds into their registry?
Simple: Their business plan is in free fall and they are desperate to boost numbers.
AKC registrations have fallen 55% over the course of the last 15 years
The AKC's main push, as I have noted before, is to enroll more puppy mill and pet shop dogs, and they have gone so far as to install a special computer program so that more puppy mill dogs can be registered at pet store point of sales.
Their second battle front, however, is to add new breeds to the AKC's roles, especially breeds that already have a devoted following, such as Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers and various types of Coon Hounds.
Of course, devotees of true working dogs have pushed back on the AKC, and for a simple reason: The American Kennel Club has never created a working breed of dog, but they have ruined every working breed they have drawn on to their roles.
- Related Post:
** Border Collie Owners Battle What Doesn't Work
In late November of 1880, a meeting was called at Cooper Union in New York City, with a panel of church leaders to explain that the criminal element were "depraved because they were deprived", and if only people would come to the aid of prisoners, things might get turned around.
Only there was one little problem.
It seems that all the folks who were invited to speak failed to appear. The result was a small audience, but no speaker.
What to do?
Well, after chewing up a little time rehashing the principles of the Gilbert Library Prisoners' Aid Society, the host flapped around for something else to say, when who should he spy in the audience but none other than Henry Bergh -- the great protector of animals who had started the SPCA in America, and who had spent 14 years denouncing the flogging of horses and all cruelty to animals.
Surely this Great Man would have something intelligent and extemporaneous to say about the abuse of men in the prison system?
And so that is how it came about that Henry Bergh was roped on to the stage at Coopers Union to speak about Capital Punishment.
Only one problem: Henry Bergh was all for it!
In fact, as The New York Times makes clear, he thought there should be whipping posts for people on every block, and that only a fool would spare the lash.
Hang people? He was all for it, and he would even supply the rope!
And here's the best part -- the audience, which had ostensibly come to hear a talk about how to give aid to prisoners, actually clapped and cheered his conclusions!
You can read all about it right here (PDF format of the NYT of December 1, 1880.)
WHAT? How could a man denounce cruelty to animals but at the same time be in favor of a return to public flogging of humans?
Isn't cruelty to humans a type of cruelty to animals?
Well, yes and no.
You see, for Bergh and many other Animal Rights advocates, the cause was never so much about animals as it was about looking down their nose at poor people who had rough manners and a rough way of doing business.
Bergh, you see was a high hat, and very much on the cutting edge of the class wars of the Victorian-era.
In Bergh's mind, the wrong class of people abused animals, and the right class of people did not.
This social perspective came straight out of England, where Bergh lifted his idea of creating an American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals.
As I note in American Working Terriers, not only did this distinction make sense to sniffing social reformers like Bergh, but it also made sense for fundraising, and meshed well with the social climbers and status-seekers attracted to early Kennel Club dog shows.
At the same time that dog shows were roaring into fashion in Victorian England, another movement was beginning to take hold. This movement began with a push to improve the plight of farm stock and cart horses, but was quickly overtaken by those eager to push past the concerns of basic animal welfare in order to strike a blow at the less educated masses coming into cities and towns.
From the beginning, the animal rights movement blurred the line between animal welfare and class warfare. Sensible concerns about the plight of animals kept by the poor were mixed with disdain for the rural poor themselves.
As the Chairman of the SPCA noted in 1824, the objective of the Society was not only “to prevent the exercise of cruelty towards animals, but to spread amongst the lower orders of the people ... a degree of moral feeling which would compel them to think and act like those of a superior class.”
The first animal welfare law in Great Britain was passed in 1822 and was designed to “prevent the cruel and improper treatment of Cattle.” This law — the Martins Act — was interpreted broadly to include all farm animals, but not bulls or pets.
In 1824 the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) had its first meeting in a London tavern, with the goal of expanding the 1822 Act to encompass nonfarm animals such as racing and hunting horses, draft horses, and cart dogs. The Society also sought to end dog fighting and the fighting of exotic animals such as monkeys.
Despite having a focused agenda, the Society failed to move legislation for the first 10 years of its existence. In 1835, however, they managed to get a ban on bull baiting, badger baiting and cock fighting through Parliament. The same law also outlawed the rat pits.
In 1839 dog carts were banned in London — a major blow to the economic livelihood of small street vendors.
In 1840, Queen Victoria — a fanatical dog collector — associated herself with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and allowed Royal to be attached to its name. The Royal imprint attracted social and political cache to the SPCA, and strengthened its funding base as well.
From the beginning, the SPCA chose its political battles carefully, going after the sport, entertainment and livelihood of those with little political power. The SPCA (now RSPCA) was careful not to go after the field sports of the wealthy and middle class. Coursing deer, hare and rabbit was given a pass. It was not seen as the least bit ironic for an RSPCA supporter to be seen fox hunting. Angling and bird shooting did not raise an eyebrow. The goal, after all, was not to save wildlife or end hunting per se, but to change the base morality of the poor who were “undisciplined” and of “low breeding”.
A moral and disciplined child might hunt animals, but he did not bait them.
A rich man might spur a horse or whip it with a riding crop, but he did not hit a dust cart horse with a stick.
A quality person might own a dog, but it would not be a crossbred mongrel, but an animal with an established pedigree.
And so it went.
At the top of the RSPCA this kind of highbrow reasoning was focused on the bottom line. The RSPCA needed the support of wealthy patrons to underwrite their literature and campaigns. Only a fool would bite the sporting hand that fed it.
Organizers at the RSPCA were quick to realize that the people who attended dog shows had good educations, nice clothes and steady incomes. These were “the right sort of people” who not only cared about animals, but also understood the importance of social rank, moral discipline and Old Money.
In fact, the dog show world attracted the very kind of social climbers that the RSPCA encouraged — people who were trying to emulate the aristocracy. When people attended dog shows, they wore their finest clothes and talked about the value of Good Breeding. Could anything be more perfect?
Dog show attendees and RSPCA supporters often seemed more focused on the plight of turnspit dogs and cart horses than on the plight of scullery workers and drovers’ children. One was a defenseless animal, after all, the other the progeny of illiteracy and an implied moral weakness.
Show ring terrier owners might brag that their dog or breed was descended from “certified fox killers,” but in fact they did not really understand or feel comfortable around shepherds or the rough men who did pest control in the countryside.
This kind of social stratification was a natural element of the aristocracy and the rapidly growing middle class. Gamekeepers and terriermen were required, of course, but they were not the sort of people you had over for dinner, were they?
In the end, the goals of the Kennel Club and the RSPCA were essentially the same — to improve rough stock by setting new standards. For one, the rough stock included dogs. For both, it included men.
Can you name all the dog breeds that are named after places? Make a list and add them in to the comments.
In the interim, here are some real places to look up on a Google Maps:
- Intercourse, Pennsylvania
- Middelfart, Denmark
- Lizard Lick, North Carolina
- Dogswamp, Western Australia
- Flushing, New York
- Bald Knob, Arkansas
- Cockburn, Western Australia
- Dead Horse, Alaska
- Dogtown, Massachusetts
- HooHoo, Virginia
- Dildo, Newfoundland
- Hellhole, Idaho
- Crapo, Maryland
- Horneytown, North Carolina
- Hell, Michigan
- Crapstone, Devon, England
- Hicksville, New York
- Dismal, Tennessee
- Boring, Oregon
- Swastika, Ontario
- French Lick, Indiana
- Cockup, Cumbria, England
- Toad Suck, Arkansas
- Climax, Missouri
- Disappointment, Kentucky
- Fleatown, Ohio
- Shitterton, Dorset, England
- Boogertown, North Carolina
- Twatt, Orkney, Shetland Islands, Scotland
- Hardup, Utah
- Gross, Nebraska
- Fucking, Austria
- Spread Eagle, Wisconsin
- Big Bone Lick, Kentucky
- Looneyville, Texas
- Titty Hill, Sussex, England
- Idiotville, Idaho
- Hookersville, West Virginia
- Slickpoo, Idaho
- Ratsville, Ohio
- Wetwang, Yorkshire, England
- Blue Ball, Pennsylvania
- Goosepimple Junction, Virginia
- Downer, Minnesota
- Penistone, South Yorkshire, England
- Big Ugly, West Virginia
- Bastard, Ontario
- Peculiar, Missouri
- Frog Suck, Wyoming
- Loveladies, New Jersey
- Slaughter, Texas
- Nut Crackers, Devon, England
- Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky
- Mosquitoville, VT
- Hot Coffee, Mississippi
How about the Penistone Terrier? The Bald Knob Retriever? The Titty Hill Spaniel? The Climax Pointer?
Various lap dogs could be called the "Downer," "Disappointment" "Boring" and, of course, "Crapo".
And then, of course, there would be the Fucking Dog, the Toad Suck Cur, the Crapstone Lurcher, and the Slaughter Hound.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
This is the S. Kann Sons & Co. Department store on Eighth and D streets at Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., about 1919.
How many "Nipper" RCA logos can you count? The big version of this picture can be found here.
Want to know more about Nipper? The full story is here.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The Dog Show Game:
In the past, people have been able to buy dogs that they did not breed or work themselves, and then pay professional "handlers" to drive these same dogs around the country to compete for ribbons at dog shows. This is called a "sport." Now comes the good news: the "sport" of dog showing has gone the next logical step -- doing away with all those pesky dogs altogether. At The Show Dog Game you will find "an online game that gives you the chance to manage a kennel of show dogs." You can choose from any of 180 different breeds and "watch and manage them as they grow from a puppy to a national champion." You can enter your dogs in all-breed shows, specialty shows, or both, choose the judge you want to compete under, use a handler to show your dog, or show your dog yourself. As the web site notes, "How well your kennel performs is up to you and the decisions you make."
South African Hunting Dog Web Site:
Jonathan in South Africa, has produced a nice new web site on Hunting Dogs in Southern Africa. Check it out!
Bodio on Darwin's Pigeons:
Steve Bodio has a piece up on the Cornell Lab's Ornithology site about "Darwin's Other Birds", i.e. pigeons. Check it out.
Much of the real work behind The Origin of Species was actually done at dog, chicken, cattle and pigeon shows, and the information gleaned here was used, by analogy, to make sense of what Darwin had seen on his travels on The Beagle. For more on all this, see Darwin's Dogs: How Darwin's Pets Helped Form a World-Changing Theory of Evolution
Monkeying Around With Outside Genes:
It seems that when Mandrils (a type of ape) mate, they have the good sense to seek out genetic diversity. Opposites really do attract!
Bison and Viral Immuno-Contaception:
There are very few things that worry me, but one of them is viral immuno-contraception, which is what they are now using to control the non-native Bison on Catalina Island. Bison are not native to Catalina, and only got there due to the movie industry. They are now breeding like rats and destroying the native plants and landscape. Moving excess Bison off the island cost $100,000 a year, and is not what is needed. What is needed are sharp-shooters to clean the herd out once and for all. Why am I worried about viral immuno-conctraception? Simple: We really have no idea where we are going with this stuff, as I explain here. When you start bio-engineering microbes in order to make animals infertile, it does not take too much imagination to see how this could very easily lead to "the end of the game."
Tales of a Bobolink:
A Bobolink tagged by Dr. Rosalind Renfrew in Bolivia, was rediscovered in Vermont just 12 miles from her home -- in the mouth of a cat. The three-year old bird had logged at least 35,000 miles migrating between South America and North America before succumbing to feline predation.
Fish at Flood:
What happens to fish during floods? A heck of a lot of them die.
The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception:
Once thought lost, it has been refound, and is now available on Amazon, just in time for Christmas.
Camera Trap at an American Badger Sette:
Camera Trap Codger has set up a camera at an American Badger hole, and so far he has filmed a knock-down fight and death that comes from the air. James Marchington has set up his own game camera and take a few pics of the local fox. Excellent all around!
Birds of Prey Mostly Squeeze to Kill Their Small Prey:
How do birds of prey kill with their talons? Mostly, it turns out, but by strangulation and asphyxiation.
It's my job, this Thanksgiving, to cook the turkey and to do the gravy, and I have been studying up for the task.
My bird is 22.5 pounds, is not frozen, and will be basted, and foil-hatted beginning very early Thursday morning. At a temperature of 325 degrees, it should take about 5 hours to cook the bird.
Since my mother has expressed some concern about my gravy-making abilities, I have carefully culled through the literature to learn a few tricks, and I have purchased a can of cream of chicken soup, two packages of turkey wings, and a small box of instant mashed potatoes as my "secret weapons" for success. We shall see if it is enough to overcome my natural culinary incompetence.
The modern Turkey was bred to be eaten -- it has no wild equivalent. To call it Meleagris gallopavo is an insult to the wild bird, which is both cunning and adaptive, and which can actually fly a bit.
The modern farm-bred bird, the so-called "Broad Breasted White," is a bio-engineered animal with an enormous body and breast, and it can barely waddle.
In fact, my bird is to large that had it not met its timely end to serve my needs, it probably would have died on its own within a month or two due to the strain on its heart. This is not a bird bred for health or longevity; it is a bird bred to die young, with a lot of meat on its bones.
Like most turkeys, my bird was almost certainly a product of artificial insemination due to the fact that farm turkeys, like English Bulldogs, are too big to reliably mate on their own.
Yes, this is a real job; grabbing big Tom turkeys, flipping them over, and stroking their cloaca until a bite of semen is extruded and then aspirated up a vacuum straw afixed to the finger of the worker. The reverse, of course, is done for female turkeys whose fertile eggs are then wisked off to waiting incubators. A single insemination is good for a month of fertile eggs,
My bird was probably beak-trimmed within a day of its incubator hatching, and from birth to death it had a steady supply of good grain and clean water. This is a turkey that never saw cold, flood, fox, coyote, raccoon, or bobcat. It never saw a parasite or a disease. My turkey is a bird with a health plan, even if that health plan does come with a "death panel" at the end of its life.
The animal rights folks will tell you that farm-bred turkeys have a miserable life, but I am not sure I agree. Sure, they may have their beaks trimmed, but so do a lot of folks in Hollywood. Funny how it's OK for humans to have nose jobs and tummy tucks, breast implants and face lifts, pierced nipples and tribal-art tattoos, but its a horror to trim a beak on a chicken or dock a tail on a dog.
Of course, some folks will say my Turkey lived an "unnatural life" in a massive shed crowded with other Turkeys. Right. But what is a "natural" life for a turkey that is already so far removed from nature? Why am I supposed to feel bad that this bird, and all its incubator brethren, lived to a large size in a secure shed rather than died at the age of one or two-weeks, drowned by flood, or predated on by fox or hawk?
My bird was born and raised at Plainville Farms in Pennsylvania and was raised on a pure vegetarian diet and without antibiotics. At a weight of 22.5 pounds at the end of its life,it had four or five square feet of room to move about in. No, that's not much. On the other hand, if people delivered me all the ice cream and steak I wanted, I might not venture too far from the couch myself.
To be clear, a turkey farm is not supposed to be Disney World; it's supposed to produce a fat and healthy bird as quickly as possible, and with a minimum of fuss and expense.
My bird was bred for a purpose, and that purpose is in the oven right now.
There is a lot of talk these days about "Heritage Turkeys."
A "Heritage Turkey" is nothing but a marketing scam. This is failed farm stock being raised in a failed farm system, and the price you pay for maintaining this failure is somewhere between $7 and $10 a pound.
I am not opposed to folks buying Heritage Turkey -- it's still a free country. But let's be clear that what is being bought here is not meat; it's philosophy. It's romance. And in the end, what you get is a dead turkey, and a higher price, and a bird that, by most accounts, is not as tasty as a modern Broad Breasted White. Is there a win in any of that? If so, I cannot see it.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"Dr. Zira, I must caution you. Experimental brain surgery on these creatures is one thing, and I'm all in favor of it. But to suggest that we can learn anything about the simian nature from a study of man is sheer nonsense. Man is a menace, a walking pestilence. He eats up his food supply in the forest, then migrates to our green belts and ravages our crops. The sooner he is exterminated, the better. It's a question of simian survival."
. . . - Dr. Zaius, Planet of the Apes
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The pictures below are from Count Jacques du Fouilloux's 1560 book entitled La Vernarie (The Art of Hunting), the cover of which is pictured to the left.
This book was ripped off by George Turberville who translated the book and put it out as his own.
Turberville, however, called Fouilloux's dogs "terriers" rather than "bassets". Fouilloux's "bassets" were probably early dachshunds, as terriers were net yet common on the Continent.
Want to learn a little more and see more terrier tools from 1560? >> Just click here.
Monday, November 23, 2009
T-Shirt Available - Perfect for Crufts and Westminster.
The George Fleming Prize winner for 2009 has been announced, just in time for tomorrow's 150th Anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species. The Fleming prize, which commemorates the founder of The Veterinary Journal, is awarded for the paper of the greatest merit published in the Journal during the previous year.
The winners for 2009 are Lucy Asher, Gillian Diesel, Jennifer F. Summers, Paul D. McGreevy and Lisa M. Collins of the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, University of London for their article entitled 'Inherited Defects in Pedigree Dogs. Part 1: Disorders Related to Breed Standards' (VJ, August 2009).
A few excerpts from the paper:
The issue of pedigree dog breeding and its consequences for welfare has recently been brought to the attention of the general public. The main sources of inherited defects are (i) deleterious inherited recessive traits expressed as a consequence of closed stud books and inbreeding practices; and (ii) dog breeders aiming to meet the breed standards for multiple aspects of physical conformation..
We carried out a review of inherited defects in the 50 most popular breeds of dog in the UK, according to Kennel Club registrations .... Every one of the 50 most popular pedigree breeds of dog in the UK were found to have at least one aspect of their physical conformation which predisposes them to a heritable defect. Conformation characteristics such as short heads, short legs, excessive facial skin folds, pendulous ears, long backs and curly tails are likely to predispose, or are genetically linked in presenting breeds, to a range of physical problems such as occipital dysplasia, malocclusion of the jaws, hip dysplasia, eye ulceration, chronic otitis, intervertebral disc disease, and spina bifida, respectively.
In many cases, there is an overlap or interaction between conformation and inherited diseases. For example, the spot colouration specified in the breed standards for Dalmatians has a genetic link with deafness. Certain defects were found to cluster by breed type – e.g. the tendency to develop patellar luxation is particularly common in the Terrier and Toy dog breeds, and the potentially fatal condition of gastric torsion is common to the working dog breeds such as Rottweiler, Dogue de Bordeaux, Doberman and Great Dane. . . .
. . . . This report has shown that every one of the 50 most popular pedigree breeds of dog in the UK were found to have at least one aspect of their physical conformation predisposing it to a heritable defect. Conformational features form a large proportion of these problems. From musculoskeletal diseases, such as hip and elbow dysplasia to brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome, eyelid defects, excessive skin folds and predisposition to gastric dilatation-volvulus in barrel-chested breeds, these defects affect all body systems across a variety of breeds. The association of some of these conditions with official breed standards and the high maintenance implications of some breed features (such as a prolific coat or pendulous ears) makes conformational extremes an important area for consideration when discussing the problems of the purebred dog breeding industry. Also highlighted by this report are the diverse and often severe genetic conditions suffered by dogs of these 50 popular breeds. Inbreeding, population bottlenecks, the use of strictly closed stud-books and breeding towards features genetically linked to deleterious conditions (such as the link between spot size and deafness in Dalmatians) have all contributed to the current situation. . . .
Summary: There are 209 different breeds of pedigree dogs recognised by the UK Kennel Club. In this report, we focused on the top 50 most popular breeds, according to the number of KC registrations in 2007. For these breeds, we found a total of 322 inherited disorders. Of these, 84 were either directly or indirectly associated with conformation.
A first edition of Charles Darwin's classic text, "On the Origin of Species," was recently found in a bathroom in a guest house near Oxford, England, where it had been sitting for decades, unnoticed.
Only 1,250 first editions were produced, and this one is to be sold on the 150th Anniversary of its production, on Tuesday (tomorrow) for a sum expected to top $100,000.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
From Network, 1976. Gerald Ford was President.
Add in a dollop of racism, a hefty bag of ignorance, four conspiracy theories, and a tax scam. Place in large corporate payola cauldron, and percolate through Fox News. Season with blast email and garnish with a Bible quote, Ayn Rand, or your own theories about economics, law, and the United Nations. Goes well with Stupid on a Stick. Serve with a hot American bottle of whine.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
There is a reason we do not ask rock stars, celebrities and politicians about their theories of wildlife management.
On this, and on so many other issues, we need to be leaving management of our public lands to our wildlife and wild lands professionals.
Ted Willams tells us why in "Horse Sense," an article in Audubon magazine.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Stupid-on-a-Stick Meets PeTA, and hillarity ensues:
A company in the United Kingdom is about to lift the lid on a device that zaps lobster with electricity to kill them, and the inventor said Wednesday his humane alternative to boiling is about to give the entire industry a jolt.
. . . . The animal rights group PETA bought two of the lobster devices and paid for Mr. Buckhaven and his wife to fly to the Arizona event last Saturday to demonstrate the technology.
Unfortunately, the courier service lost the two machines and the animal rights people had to look the other way as volunteers killed hundreds of lobster in boiling water for hungry supporters of the resource centre.
The whole story is here, but you will have to supply your own laugh track.
This jumbo 25 lb. lobster was destined for the President's table in 1933.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
"According to the preliminary CBO analysis, the legislation would reduce the federal deficit by $127 billion over the first decade and by $650 billion over the second decade."
If someone tells you we can't afford health care legislation, ask if they got out of grade school, because they sure can't read and they sure can't add.
First Sarah Palin was a "pit Bull with lipstick. Then she "went rogue."
A couple of days ago, I noted that it's just possible a "Pit Bull might go Pit Bull."
I thought that was a fairly innocuous observation, considering that I provided a link to the dictionary definition of Pit Bull which, along with "American Staffordshire terrier," notes that it is also slang for "One who behaves in a markedly aggressive or ruthless manner."
It's not like we have not heard this definition of Pit Bull before, is it?
It's as current as this morning's orange juice.
But, of course, I got an email from a very nice person who wanted me to remove the reference. A tiger might "go tiger", and a chimpanzee might "go chimpanzee," but it was beyond thought that a Pit Bull might "go Pit Bull," and never mind the daily new stories.
Would I remove the reference? I was told it was absurd to "lump people like me" together with "people who aren't just idiots, but idiots who do incredibly stupid things to wild animals."
I had not mentioned this person. I had not mentioned ANY person. I was talking about animals.
In fact, what I was talking about was something elementary: Every animal has a code within it. This code cannot be eliminated, and must be paid homage to.
I wrote back:
I find it very amusing that Pit Bull owners deny the genetic code in their breed. You do not see houndsmen going nuts when someone says "he stayed on the trail like a hound," or a greyhound man going nuts when someone says he "ran like a greyhound," or a terrierman expressing outrage when someone says he is as "tenacious as a terrier," or a bird dog man getting anxious because someone notes they were "bird-dogged to good information."
But Pit Bulls? You cannot say a Pit Bull is likely to go Pit Bull? Nonsense!
Here's a thought -- maybe that sentiment needs to be said more often.
If it was, perhaps nearly a million Pit Bulls a year would not be killed in shelters in this nation, most of then turned over to those shelters by owners who did not know or understand that a "Pit Bull can go Pit Bull."
But those are a minority of dogs, you may say.
Well yes, that's right.
"Only" about a third of all the Pit Bulls in America are killed every year BECAUSE THEY ARE PIT BULLS.
Read that line again.
Those deaths are not caused because someone is "calling" the dog a Pit Bull. Those dogs are dying because they ARE Pit Bulls, and it turns out that when "a Pit Bull goes Pit Bull" most people do not want them in their house. And that sentiment is shared by people who actually owned all those Pit Bulls! Are the folks who acquired Pit Bull all Pit Bull haters? I don't think so!
Now here's the interesting part: Most tigers in this country do not "go tiger" and most chimps do not "go chimp" either. And, as you might point out, neither do most Pit Bulls, in the sense that "only" a third of all Pit Bulls in the U.S. are being killed every year, which leaves 2/3 still "coloring between the lines."
Now here's the funny thing. You know what the lady who owned that Chimp said? She said it was just like a baby. It was her child. The folks who own tigers say the same thing -- go back and look at the Siegfried and Roy tapes of them bottle-feeding their cats, even as adults.
And you know what? Most of the time it works out. Tigers and Chimps kill or maul very few people in America -- far fewer than (well, you know) despite the fact that there are a LOT of private tigers and lions (about 30,000 big cats) and chimps (about 3,000 great apes) in America.
As to the notion that Siegfried and Roy's Tiger or that Chimpanzee were "wild" animals, or that the owners were "idiots who did incredibly stupid things" to their charges, you might want to go back and read about these animals and their owners.
None of these animals were wild -- they were all born and raised in captivity, bottle-raised, and well-trained. They were not abused in the slightest.
But does a Tiger have a genetic code? Yes it does. Does a Chimpanzee? Yes it does. Does a dog -- especially a Pit Bill? Yes it does.
And so we come to the point: A tiger just *might* go tiger someday, and a chimpanzee just *might* go chimpanzee someday, and a Pit Bull just *might* go Pit Bull someday. It's the genetic potential of the beast -- the reason "Pit Bull" is in the dictionary as an adjective that means: "One who behaves in a markedly aggressive or ruthless manner."
And NO, I do not think you are an idiot, or your dogs are a problem in the slightest. Surely you do not think the post was directed to you?
But do I think most "Pet Bull" owners have thought very much about the genetic code that exists in game bred animals? No, I do not. Too many folks believe that all animals can be "loved into being wonderful all the time." Siegfried and Roy thought that and still think that. So too does that woman who owned that mauling Chimp. And you know what? They are right most of the time. But the code can explode, can't it? And the code is not the same for all animals, is it? A "Tiger going Tiger" is well within the bounds of normal. So too is a "Pit Bull going Pit Bull."
And admitting that is Step One to saving the Pit Bull; accepting the Pit Bull for what it is, which is too often a serious problem for its owner.
I had barely fired off this little missive when someone sent me a link to this page from the Villalobos Pit Bull Rescue Center, the largest Pit Bull Rescue Center in the country, which is working hard to rehome Pit Bulls that have been dumped in shelters, even as they try to educate prospective owners of these dogs that a Pit Bull is not a Poodle or a Pug. The folks at Villalobos write:
You will learn here that while Pit Bulls make great family companions while in the right hands and living situation, they require intelligent, responsible and dedicated ownership.
Unfortunately too many people obtain these dogs for the wrong reasons or have little understanding on the inherent traits this breed possesses. It is unfortunate that one of the original purposes of the APBT was (and still is for many) dog-to-dog combat, but it’s a fact that can’t be denied or ignored. It’s very important that every potential Pit Bull owner, understands the selective breeding that took place to make these dogs of today and the inherited characteristics that are potentially within this wonderful breed.
. . . . We can’t blame specialized breeds for behaving like they were bred to do what they do. Certain specific traits were selectively bred into the dogs and are now a part of the breed’s character. It’s like the digging instinct of many Terriers, the herding behavior in Shelties, the compulsion to run in a Greyhound, etc. Your Pointer may have never spent a day on a real “hunt”, but he may still point and flush out a bird as his ancestors were bred to do so. We don’t have to condone or glorify it, but dog aggression is not uncommon with Pit Bull type dogs. Owners must recognize and accept this fact or they won’t be able to provide competent ownership and have fun with their dogs. It’s a mistake to think the fighting gene can be easily trained or loved out of a dog. Or that early socialization will guarantee your Pit Bull will always get along with other animals. Even though PBRC does not in anyway condone animal fighting, it does acknowledge the importance of understanding the special traits of this breed and advocates education about proper and responsible Pit Bull ownership. You can have all the dog experience in the world, but it’s also essential to understand the distinctive features of the type of dog you own or work with. In this case, a dog with an important fighting background who requires extra vigilance around other pets.
There are precautions to take when owning a Pit Bull, especially in a multiple-dog environment. Unfortunately these precautions are often viewed as an acceptance for the sport of dog fighting when nothing could be further from the truth. PBRC believes that knowing how to avoid a fight, as well as how to break up a fight, can be a matter of life or death for your dog and the “other” dog.
Take note that a fight can strike suddenly and for no apparent reason. Warning signs can be very subtle with Pit Bulls and even completely absent in certain cases. Two dogs may be best friends for years, sleep together, cuddle, play and even eat from the same bowl. Then one day something triggers one of them and BOOM! Often the dogs act like best friends as soon as the fight is over. They might even lick each other’s wounds. You have been warned though. They will do it again and get better at it every time.
. . . . It is not necessarily a hate of other dogs that will cause Pit Bulls to fight, but rather an “urge” to do so that has been bred into the breed for many generations. Pit Bulls may fight over hierarchic status, but external stimulus or excitement can also trigger a fight. Remember that any canine can fight, but Pit Bulls were bred specifically for it and will therefore do it with more drive and intensity than most other breeds.
Pit Bull owners must also be aware of the remarkable fighting abilities of this breed and always keep in mind that they have the potential to inflict serious injuries to other animals.
This is Step One: Admission that even the nicest "PET Bulls" come with a certain amount of Pit Bull genetic code pulsing through their system. Though it may be invisible, it should always be assumed to be there.
Remember the cost of denial: Nearly a million dead Pit Bulls a year, most of them acquired in haste and abandoned in leisure by people who did not understand the prolems and responsibilities that come with all dogs, with big dogs in particular, and with Pit Bulls most of all.
What has happened to the Pit Bull is a breed specific problem.
No other breed is so over-bred.
No other dog is more likely to be bred by a fool, and acquired and abandoned by an ignorant.
No other breed is more likely to die in a shelter, abandoned by its owner.
Talking about the problems that come with Pit Bull ownership is not a violence to the dog; it is salvation for the dog.
What this dog does not NOT need is more "surprised" owners who blame the dog for the genetic code coursing through its veins -- the genetic code they never bothered to learn about, or may have once denied existed.
Yes, let's place all the rescue Pit Bulls we can in loving homes.
And let's turn to shutting down the Pit Bull breeders who are the real problem for both dog and community alike.
And, above all, let's learn to appreciate and understand each dog breed for what it is -- not for what we want them to be.
Want to see how many Pit Bulls are killed every day in America? Click here.
- Related Links:
** Doing Right by Pit Bulls
** Wanted: Responsible and Educated Dog Owners** What the Hell is an American Staffordshire Terrier?
** Enabling Responsibility & Discouraging Stupidity
** The "R" Word No One Wants to Talk About
** Dog Fight: Rights vs. Responsibilities
** PETA's Slaughterhouse for Dogs and Cats
** Two Hundred Dead Pit Bulls a Day in Los Angeles?
** Denver, Dog Bites and Pit Bulls
** Hump and Dump Dog Breeders
** Who Speaks for the Dogs?
** An International Pit Bull Conspiracy?
** What Type of Dog?.
A repost from August 2005.
The morphological variation within dogs is pretty extreme.
The picture, above, is of an English Bulldog, a breed with such an overlarge head that almost 100% of all dogs are born caesarian.
This is a breed that would be extinct in 10 years were it not for the regular intervention of veterinarians.
Most people do not realize that almost all dog species, as we know them today, are very recent creations.
In the last 1790s, a farmer by the name of Robert Bakewell realized that by separating males from females -- made easy by the rising number of enclosed fields -- a farmer could choose which stock was allowed to breed. By deliberately inbreeding livestock, and selecting for desirable traits, Bakewell rapidly created new and "improved" breeds of sheep and transformed modern agriculture forever. Bakewell's experiments with sheep quickly spilled over into other farm stock, such as cattle, pigs, and chickens, and eventually into pet stock such as dogs and pigeons.
In 1800, there were only 15 designated breeds of dogs, but by 1865 that number had grown to more than 50 and it exploded fantastically over the course of the next 60 years as Victorian-era dog breeders produced a dizzying array of dogs, most with invented histories and elaborate (and entirely fictional) rationales for their taxonomic differences. To see how rapidly the shape of the Bull Terrier was changed by the Kennel Club show ring >> click here.
Border Collie Skull (above)
Dachshund Skull (above)
Pug Skull (above)
Poodle Skull (above)
Saint Bernard Skull (above)
A repost from this blog circa August 2004.
Believe it or not, rats have been responsible for more species extinctions than anything else. The reason for this is that so many of the animals that have been pushed into extinction have been indigenous ground-nesting birds living on small islands. Once rats are introduced in these locations, eggs and hatchlings are predated upon, bird populations plummet, and extinction often follows.
Rats have been eradicated from islands only a few times, and in all occasions, it has involved a tremendous amount of poison bait used for a long time.
It's worth remembering that the rat is a survivor -- they survived the nuclear blasts on Pacific atolls and actually prospered under those conditions, living on dead creatures and plant life that washed up on the beach.
One of the few examples of successful rat eradication on an island is Campbell Island, south of New Zealand. Rats got to the island via whaling ships, and destroyed the nesting grounds of the flightless teal and wading duck.
In 2002 the government of New Zealand used 120 TONS of rat poison on the island (over 240,000 pounds), delivered by boat and helicopter. About 200,000 rats died, but not without some mishap. A tanker carrying 18 tons of rat poison sank in a whale breeding ground, and there was some mild (and probably temporary) contamination of the local mussel population.
In any case, the rats are now gone, the whales are OK, and so too are the mussels. The teal and ducks are set to be re-introduced from captive populations. This is a very rare example of success in the war against rats.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Miss Almira Gulch in the Wizard of Oz had a pretty nice rig!
- My bicycle has been collecting dust for too long. Maybe what I need to do is add a decent terrier box off of the back. Of course, if you have money or can weld, you can carry a lot more than a terrier on a bike -- I think a Great Dane is well within the bounds of possible! Check out these extended- frame bicycles. For those with terriers, the options are simpler, from jury-rigged plastic milk crates to fancier rigs like this, or this, or a well-mounted wicker basket like that in the Wizard of Oz.
- For those who motorcycle, check out these options, from dogs to cats, and from monkey to sheep. Back when rocks were soft (and so was my head), I occasionally commuted to work at a Maryland boat yard (we built big cruising sailboats) with another fellow and his massive Labrador-cross named Kilgore. Rich would drive, I would sit behind Rich, and Kilgore would lay cross-wise between us, with his front paws on the right and his back paws on the left. We never had a problem.
Photo out of China. Amazing!
Doug and his dog Gordon came up for a short day of digging, and after taping up the collars we hit a nearby farm.
Gordon found first -- a nest of mice in a tree tube!
Mountain was second, locating something in a nice sette at the top of a tall creek bank. Pearl pinged on it too, but neither dog could get to it from either end of the pipe.
We dropped a hole where it appeared they were stuck, and bingo -- there was the pipe and the dog too, but it appeared to be a dead-end of solid earth. This den went nowhere.
The dogs continued to dig, however, and I poked the solid wall looking for a soft spot, but there was none. This was not backfill.
Mountain and Pearl were both quite adamant that it was there, however, and so out come the scrapper and the long-handled trowel. After three inches of scrapping and digging through hard soil, I was pretty sure nothing was there, but I have learned to trust the dogs and after six inches of excavation, I suddenly broke through. Amazing!
I slipped in Pearl and she bayed it up for a while, and then Doug dropped a hole behind the groundhog and I tailed it out, and we quickly dispatched it and repaired the sette. Job done.
We crossed the creek and watched a couple of warring belted kingfishers go at it. I had never heard a kingfisher vocalize before, and neither had Doug who, it must be said, has much better eyes than I do. Three deer ran up off onto another farm, three turkey vultures flew directly over our heads, and at least three red tails and a red shouldered hawk were spotted. This country is thick with wildlife.
The dogs half-pinged on a spot on the other side of the creek, but they did not give a strong mark, and so I suggested we walk up to towards a tree about 200 yard away, as I thought we might find up that way.
Sure enough, we were half-way there when Mountain pinged on another hole. Once again, it became pretty clear that while there was something underground, it was pretty well dug in.
That's the way it is this time of year -- the groundhogs are starting to lay up for the winter, and are closing in their holes and building water barriers inside their pipes so as to make comfortable hibernation possible.
Mountain entered and stayed underground. I boxed her and Doug dropped a hole right on top of her nose. The pipe made a hard and unexpected turn right at this point, and the groundhog had pushed dirt behind him as well.
After clearing a little dirt with the scraper and widening the hole to give Mountain a little more room, she was straight up the pipe and face to face with the groundhog. Nice!
We dropped a second hole right behind the groundhog, and snared it out and dispatched it for Mr. Fox to recycle.
With two down, we decided to call it a day, as Doug had a long drive back down to North Carolina.
Monday, November 16, 2009
So close to the truth it almost hurts when I laugh.
There is nothing quite as amusing as the Kennel Club saying it has had nothing to do with Eugenics.
Let us look at their own history.
The year is 1897, some 14 years after Sir Francis Galton first coined the term "Eugenics," and just 11 years before Galton founded the British Eugenics Society in 1907.
What's going on at the Kennel Club?
Well, for starters they are firmly closing the registry for all dogs except new breeds just being enrolled for the first time.
In the 1905 publication The Kennel Club: Its History and Record of Its Work, Edward William Jaquet, secretary of the Kennel Club writes about the 1897 debate over what to do about the declining health of Scottish Deerhounds.
It is important to understand that the Kennel Club's decision to close its registry did not occur in isolation. The core ideas underpinning the eugenics movement were already more than 30 years old, and these values, in turn, had been shaped and reinforced by those who pointed to the "progress" being made by the "scientific" breeding of dogs, pigeons, and livestock for the show ring. One idea fed off another, and rationalized and excused the other.
A time line shows the progress:
- Plato was the first to propose state-sponsored eugencis, suggesting that in his ideal Republic "The best men must have intercourse with the best women as frequently as possible, and the opposite is true of the very inferior." In Plato's scheme, the fittest and best would be determined by a points systems.
- In the late 1770s, Robert Bakewell began to rapidly improve farm stock through sire selection and control, a feat made possible by the rise of the Enclosure System. Bakewell's fame and fortune spread rapidly and soon countless farmers had embraced his animal husbandry techniques
- Stock shows grew up out of a desire of farmers to show off and sell their new and improved "scientifically bred" animals. At some of these early stock shows, dogs were also featured, but more as an afterthought than anything else.
- It was at the new farm stock shows that Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin's father, first began to get an inkling of the power of the selection process -- an idea he expounded on in a book entitled Zoonomia.
- Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, noting that while un-natural selection worked very quickly to improve farm stock, natural selection did much the same thing in the wild, albeit more slowly.
- The same year that The Origin of Species was published, the first formal dog show was held. John Henry Walsh (aka "Stonehenge") was a judge.
- In 1865, the first modern work on eugenics was written by Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin. In a long essay entitled "Hereditary Talent and Character," Galton said human intelligence was a product of breeding, and suggested that through selective breeding humans could be bred to be be more (or less) intelligent. Galton specifically noted that dogs seemed to have been bred for stupidity and obsequiousness, as man wanted a "slave."
- In his 1869 book Hereditary Genius, Galton expanded on his earlier essay, noting: "I propose to show in this book that a man's natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world. Consequently, as it is easy, notwithstanding those limitations, to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations."
- In 1867, John Henry Walsh (aka Stonehenge) and his friends adopted Plato's "point sytem" for grading breeding stock, and used it for grading dogs at shows. When the The Kennel Club was created in 1873, it adopted this points system as its own.
- In 1880, the Kennel Club put into place the first formal rules governing the naming of dogs so as to avoid double registrations and confusion. This was the start of the Kennel Club's registry system.
- In 1897, the Kennel Club formally closed its registry, disallowing cross breeds and outcrosses to other breeds.
- That same year Francis Galton began using Kennel Club breed records to support his genetic theories, noting in his Memoir (chapter XX): "I had thought of experimenting with mice, as cheap to rear and very prolific,and had taken some steps to that end, when I became aware of the large collections of Basset Hounds belonging to the late Sir Everard Millais. He offered me every facility. The Basset Hound records referring to his own and other breeds had been carefully kept, and the Stud Book he lent me contained accounts of nearly 1,000 animals, of which I was able to utilise 817. All were descended from parents of known colours; in 567 of them the colours of all four grandparents were also known. Wherever the printed Stud Book was deficient, Sir Everard Millals supplied the want in MS from the original records. My inquiry was into the heredity of two alternative colours, one containing no black, the other containing it; their technical names were lemon-white and tri-colour (black, lemon, white) respectively. I was assured that no difficulty was felt in determining the category to which each individual belonged. These data were fully discussed in a memoir, published (1897) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, on what is now termed the "Ancestral Law," namely, that the average contribution of each parent is ¼, of each grandparent, and so on. Or, in other words, that of the two parents taken together is ½, of the four grandparents together ¼, and so on. My data were not as numerous as is desirable, still the results were closely congruous, and seem to be a near approximation to the truth. The conclusions have been much discussed and criticised, and they have been modified by Professor Karl Pearson; but they have not been seriously shaken, so far as I know."
Of course, as new dog breeds came into the fold, individual dog registries were not always closed on Day One. That said, as a general rule they do not seem to have stayed open for very long, with the Kennel Club door generally being slammed shut within a year or two, and often with just two or three dozen dogs listed on the roles.
In 1907, Galton created the Eugenics Education Society and that same year Indiana passed a State Sterilization Law.
That same year the Germans created their own Eugenics Society, the "Internationale Gessellschaft fuer Rassenhygiene."
To give a little flavor to the intellectual debate taking place at this time, it's worth reading this little piece from the September 1914 issue of Atlantic magazine entitled "Eugenics and Common Sense":
There seems no objection to Eugenicists classing themselves with cabbages and dogs and cats, but does the rest of the world accept this for itself? Are you content to be described and treated as a beast, and a beast only? Each reader will answer that for himself no doubt, and I need not elaborate the point. It is the cheerful and veracious foundation of Eugenics.
Let us continue. The Eugenist takes man purely as a plant or as an animal; he wants to breed him just as animals are bred, so let us consider how plants and animals are bred and what the result has been. He says: 'Surely the human product is superior to poultry,'—the very foundation of his whole argument is that it is not; however, let us go on,—'and as we may now predict with precision the characters of the offspring of a particular pair of pedigreed poultry so it may be some time with man.'
Still, let us go on. Let us assume with the Eugenists that we really are no different from cabbages and roses, or horses and dogs,—that every rule which applies to them applies to us, and let us see what the scientific breeding of plants and animals has effected. What has been the result?
Well, the result has been astonishing. The simple little wild Persian rose, for instance, has been improved into the gorgeous blooms of our gardens: the small, rather sour apple has become the Albemarle Pippin; the wild dog has become the great Dane, the mastiff, the bull-dog, the pug; and the barb mixed with the Frisian horse has become the thoroughbred. In size, in beauty, in variety, in qualities useful to mankind, plants and animals have been improved out of recognition.
That is quite true. But what of the other qualities? What, for instance, of health and intelligence? Have these also increased pari passu with the increase in size? Go to a nursery gardener, to a racing stable, to a dog-fancier, and inquire. You will learn this: the extraordinary improvement In size and shape has been gained at the cost of all other qualities. Thoroughbred plants and animals are very tender, they require most assiduous attention, they have to be nursed like babies. They have no stamina, and they have no brains. They are so delicate that unless they are continually protected and doctored they are devoured by disease. A rose-grower's outfit now includes innumerable medicines without which his blooms would be destroyed. If you abandon a garden of any cultivated flowers for a few years, the vigorous and hardy wild plants will choke all your improved stock; nothing will be left save perhaps a few lucky plants which have managed to evolve as it were backwards and regain some of their virility by abandoning their acquired splendor. In free competition the improved plant does not stand the ghost of a chance with its unimproved brothers. The struggle ends inevitably and tragically.
It is exactly the same with improved birds and animals. In open competition for a livelihood thoroughbred stock would be doomed. It has no constitution, it cannot get a living for itself, cannot bear exposure, must be cared for like an invalid. Read for instance the history of the cavalry and mounted infantry horses in the Boer War. The fine-bred stock from England was useless. It died in heaps. It was only horses from places where they are brought up semi-wild, as in the Argentine and Australian runs, that were of any use. Even they did not compare with the Boer ponies.
A further fact, and one still more important to remark, is that all tame is incomparably inferior in intellect to wild stock. There is so little opportunity for people of civilized nations nowadays to observe wild animals that this fact is often overlooked. But the difference is startling. Look at a pack of wild dogs, as I often have. They hunt with a science and precision that tame fox-hounds have no idea of, even when directed by huntsmen and whips. A pack of wild dogs will mark down a stag—they always select stags with big heads if possible—in a piece of forest surrounded by grass. They will post sentries at the exits and the rest of the pack will go to the end and beat the jungle through. When the stag breaks, the sentries at the exit give tongue and warn the rest who immediately run to their call.
There is no one who like myself has kept both wild and domesticated animals as pets who has not noticed that the latter are fools to the former. It is a commonplace of knowledge. Here is a story in illustration, from the life of the elder Dumas.
He had a dog and a fox both chained up near the house. One day he gave a bone to each, putting it just out of reach, to see what would happen. Well, at first, both acted in the same way, they strained at the chain. The fox, however, soon found out the uselessness of this and sat down to consider. Then he got up, turned round so as to add the length of his body to that of the chain, reached the bone with his hind leg, and having scraped it within reach, sat down to eat it. But the dog not only could not think of this himself, but even when he saw the fox do it, he could not imitate it.
The more scientifically bred animals are, the less brain they have. If you want a dog who will be an intelligent and sympathetic companion, which do you choose, the dog bred by 'science' or the dog bred by the natural selection of mutual love, the thoroughbred or the mongrel? All experience says the latter. Therefore, suppose the Eugenists had their way and established a state, what would the inhabitants of that state be like in a few generations? They would be tall, broad, muscular, beautiful, delicate to a degree, useless save for athletic contests or beauty shows, always in the doctor's hands—Eugenic doctor of course,—brainless, incapable of affection, almost wanting in courage, to a great extent sterile; and in the end, if the state did not die of inanition first, some more virile and intelligent race, say the Hottentots or Andamese, would come and eat its inhabitants. The Eugenic Utopia would end in the digestive apparatus of a savage. Sic transit gloria Eugeniae. Nothing could be more certain than that.
And where did it go from here? Well, not to common sense!
Galton died in 1911, but his ideas did not die with him.
The American Eugenics Society was formally started in 1923, and veterinarian and celebrated dog man Leon F. Whitney was put in as its secretary.
As I have noted in a previous post entitled "The Eugenics Man and the Kennel Club", Whitney was a very prolific author of popular dog books, many of which are still available and in print to this day.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Leon Whitney was also a famous popularizer of eugenics thought.
In Whitney's mind -- and in the minds of many of this contemporaries -- eugenics thought and dog breeding were very compatible ideas and comparable pastimes.
In fact, they were self-reinforcing to the point that Whitney and others in the American eugenics movement decided to create a "dog show for people" which they called "Fitter Family" contests.
In these contests, which were held at State Fairs all across the U.S., four generations of families would be paraded out and put into competition with each other to win a prize.
"Fitter Family" contest winners in Topeka, Kansas.
In 1931, Leon F. Whitney began writing The Case for Sterilization a book designed to encourage the passage of more state-based sterilization laws in the U.S. and around the world.
The Case for Sterilization was finally published in 1934 and noted, with some approval, that Adloph Hitler had already sterilized one percent of the population of Germany. Whitney saw this as a good start.
In his own book, Whitney advocated the sterlization of 10 million Americans!
One of Hitler's staff wrote Whitney, asking him for an autographed copy of his new book so that the Fuhrer himself might read it.
Whitney, of course, complied immediately, and shortly thereafter he received back a personal letter of thanks from Hitler who, records show, was fascinated by the American and British eugenics movements to the point that in 1935 he modeled some of his own Lebensborn program after their ideas.
In 1935 Alexis Carrell, the French scientist who had won the 1912 Nobel Prize for medicine, published a best-selling book entitled L'Homme, Cet Inconnu (Man, The Unknown) which took Whitney's ideas one step further, advocating a forced eugenics system to be controlled by the state, and facilitated by gas chambers.
"A euthanasia establishment, equipped with a suitable gas, would allow the humanitarian and economic disposal of those who have killed, committed armed robbery, kidnapped children, robbed the poor or seriously betrayed public confidence.... Would the same system not be appropriate for lunatics who have committed criminal acts?"
In the 1936 edition of the same book, Carrel praised the Third Reich's eugenics policies, and noted that more could be achieved if they used gas chambers. Later, when questioned by a magazine interviewer about his theories, Carrel explained in a rather matter-of-fact way:
"Perhaps it would be effective to kill off the worst and keep the best, as we do in the breeding of dogs."
And so there it is -- from Bassets to Auschwitz in 50 years.
Did the Kennel Club invade the Sudetenland? No, of course not.
But did the Kennel Club walk arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder with the eugenics movement right from the beginning? Absolutely. One could not have happened without the other. They are as intertwined as the grape vine and the trellis.
And, of course, the Kennel Club still warmly embraces eugenics theories based on a closed registry system that elevates to prime importance such useless attributes as coat and nose color, while kicking to the curb such vital issues as health and working ability.
Of course, even as the Kennel Club holds tight to "racial purity" breeding, the farm world has moved forward, discovering the benefits of hybridization and outcrosses.
Today, most beef cattle, dairy cattle, chickens, corn, and soy are hybrid animals and plants.
Only in the show ring, where there is no true axis of production, is racial purity still valued.
- Note: The title for this piece is stolen from a line by Andrew Marr in his BBC program entitled "The Making of Modern Britain," in which he notes that the eugenics movement went "from the Basset Hound stud book to Auschwitz in not many bounds."
- Related Links:
** Inbred Thinking
** Stonehenge: The Root of the Inbreeding Problem
** The Eugenics Man and the Kennel Club
** No Tolerance for Diversity
** Howard Galton's Bloodhounds
** Charles Galton Darwin
** The Francis Galton Dog Show
** Standards and Stonehenge
** The Kennel Club Stud Book - 1884
** Non-Extinct Terriers & Other Mysteries
** Counterfeit Collies and Transvestite Terriers
** Rawdon Lee :: The Fox Terrier, 1902
** A Pictorial History of Terriers; Their Politics & Their Place
** Before the Era of Dog Shows....
** Does the Breed Standard Require a Rape Rack?
** Handsome Is as Handsome Does
** Dogs Made by the Hand of Man
** Robert Bakewell's Apartment
** The AKC's Long Love Affair With Puppy Mills
** Science Remakes the Dog