Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cash Incentives Work!

Burma put a bounty on rat tails and this is what happened

This is How Satan Works

I cannot say it better than a Youtube commentator:

"Christians working together to destroy the planet.
Bravo. It's exactly what Satan would want you to do."

The Bible warns against these kind of people at 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

What's that last line mean -- "whose end will be according to their deeds"?

I think it means these folks are going to die of cancer because they preached the devil's gospel, which is that toxic sludge is good for you.

Tough Deer Meets Tougher Elk!

From the Spokane Spokesman Review comes this little beauty:

Wisconsin whitetails apparently are willing to challenge any bull elk that come wandering into their turf during the rut.

In an early November battle, a whitetail buck fought to the death with a 640-pound concrete elk lawn ornament. Both critters suffered serious damage.

The La Crosse Tribune reported that Mark Brye looked out the window of his home in Viroqua , Wis., and saw the lawn ornament his kids had given him knocked over. Its concrete antlers were broken.

About 20 yards away, he found the carcass of a seven-point whitetail buck with a shattered skull.

The buck’s meat wasn’t wasted. Under Wisconsin law, the Vernon County conservation officer was able to give Brye a special salvage deer tag. The warden made a note on the tag: “lawn ornament fight & lost.

Hat tip to Marge W. for sending me this one!


Ok, it's not just me.

A careful reader of this blog has sent me side-by-side pictures, from this blog, of Border Collie man and author Don McCaig and Mark Twain.

And NO, they have never been seen at the same place at the same time.

Hmmmmm. . . . . I was fooled for a long time by that Superman / Clark Kent thing, but I won't be fooled again!  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Three Kinds of Men

“There are three kinds of men.

The one that learns by reading.

The few who learn by observation.

The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

. . . - Will Rogers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sometimes Its Works Out

THANKS to everyone for getting the word out!

For anyone looking to find their next forever pet, please try Pet Finder.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from Terrierman and Family!

Up To The Mountain :: Patti Griffin

Patti Griffin wrote this song and performs it here.

Coffee and Provocation

Joseph C. Leyendecker, November 1922 for The Saturday Evening Post.

The Domestic Turkey is a Cancer Bomb:
In creating the domesticated turkey, humans concentrated a genetic mutation that makes the birds extremely sensitive to carcinogens and extremely vulnerable to cancer--"probably the most susceptible animal known to science," says Roger Coulombe, a veterinary scientist and toxicologist at Utah State University.

How Did We Come to Call it a Turkey?
Over at Treehugger, they tell us: "Centuries ago, Constantinople was an important hub of international trade, where merchants sold goods from Africa and the Far East to distributors in Europe. These products, instead of retaining a sense of their origin, often became known by the nationality of the exporters. For example, Persian rugs sold wholesale by Turkish vendors were called 'Turkish rugs.' In turn, one popular type of bird shipped from Africa, called a Guinea fowl, became known as 'Turkey cock' throughout England. And, when British settlers arrived in the New World and encountered a large woodland bird that looked a bit like the Guinea fowl fowl they'd grown fond of eating back in England -- perhaps out of confusion that the two were the same species, or maybe in longing for something familiar so far from home -- they ended up referring to this bird as a 'Turkey cock' too. Later, it was shortened to simply 'turkey'.

A Nice Obituary of a Terrierman:
Charles Parker, age 87, who worked for the Cotswold Hunt, the Heythrop, the Ludlow, and the Exmoor, has died.  As The Telegraph phrased it:  "Parker shared an extraordinary understanding of foxes with the famous huntsman Capt Ronnie Wallace, for whom he worked – Wallace called him 'my outstanding practitioner' as a terrierman. And as well as being a keen and knowledgeable otter hunter, Parker acted as Harbourer (going out on to Exmoor the night before the hunt to locate likely deer) for the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.  He had a circle of devoted friends, but could be disconcerting on a first encounter, due to his complete lack of political correctness. He treated everyone the same, regardless of background, and could be utterly charming or, occasionally, downright rude."  Read the whole thing.  Not too many obituaries of terriermen!

I Will Do Full Frontal Nudity  - Just Ask:
The radiation you get from body scanners is the same as what you get in two minutes in an airplane at 30,000 feet.

A Good Day at JRTCA Nationals:
Gideon's father, Kingsway Hustler of Briar Run (bred by Jan DeWinter who recently visited from Belgium) won the Veteran Working Dog Class, while his half-brother (on the dam's side), Briar Run Wango, won Best Working Dog.  Congratulations to owner and breeder Dawn Weiss at Briar Run!

A Little More Polar Bear Protection:
On Wednesday, the U.S Department of Interior designated 187,157 square miles of Alaskan seas and lands as critical to the survival of the polar bear. More than 95 percent of this area is offshore ice and ocean.  Among the land areas protected are Polar Bear denning sites located in  coastal regions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

An American Indian Sailed to Europe With the Vikings?
Maybe.  At least, that's the conclusion of a new DNA study of Icelanders which found more than 80 living individuals with a genetic variation similar to one found mostly in Native Americans.  The Icelanders are all descendants from four specific lineages, and those lineages are probably descended from a single woman with Native American DNA who arrived in Iceland at least "several hundred years" before 1700.

Joseph C. Leyendecker, November 1921 for The Saturday Evening Post.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

OHIO - Please Help This Dog!

This poor dog is in Youngstown, Ohio, and he needs help.  

This emaciated Jack Russell Terrier dog came in as a stray in Youngstown, Ohio, and there is no background information.

If interested please contact by phone @ 330-740-2205 EXT 2 to adopt this dog and save a life.  

Look at those eyes.  All this dog needs is food .... and a chance.   

What it doesn't have is time.  Call now.

Pay it forward this Thanksgiving by making a call or, at the very least, sending this post to everyone you know in the greater Youngstown area (which includes Pittsburgh and Akron).  Thanks!

Mr. Spock's Dog

By Glenn Jones, available as a T-shirt.

Let Us Give Thanks for Wild Turkey and Uncle Sam

Wild Turkey Feathers. This is a repost from Nov. 2008

Let us give thanks to the Wild Turkey, America's largest ground-nesting bird.

Back when my grandfather was born, the Wild Turkey was teetering on the edge of extinction. Today we have more Wild Turkeys in America's woods than existed in pre-Columbian times.

How is that possible?

Good question. But before we get there, let's dwell a little bit longer on the miracle.

You see, it generally requires a lot of forest -- 2,000 acres or more -- to maintain the kind of food crop and cover that Wild Turkey need to thrive.

The reason for this is that in the dead of winter, Wild Turkey depend on acorns and other nuts and seed for survival. This food is only produced in abundance by mature hardwood trees -- oak, beech, dogwood, cherry and gum.

So what's the big deal? We have a lot of forest in America.

True enough now, but not as true a century ago in the Eastern U.S. and much of the Midwest. Back around 1900, virtually all the big stands of large trees had been logged out in the Eastern U.S. and across much of the Midwest as well. As the trees vanished, Wild Turkey populations plummeted.

Wild Turkey populations were further pushed to oblivion by rapid improvements in gun accuracy, and weak game laws that had yet to catch up to the changing dynamics of landscape and technology.

By 1910, there were fewer than 30,000 Wild Turkeys left in America.

Then, an amazing turnaround occurred. That turnaround started with passage of the Lacey Act in 1900. The Lacey Act ended commercial hunting of wild animals.

Commercial hunting is not sport or recreational hunting -- it is the opposite of that. In commercial hunting, the goal is not having a fun day in the field to fill your own freezer with wild meat, but a full year in the field to fill the freezers of 10,000 people whose primary concern is the price per pound.

To put it simply, commercial hunting is to sport hunting what gill-netting is to fly fishing. One comes with a factory ship attached; the other a simple wicker creel.

No single action has done more to improve the status of American wildlife than passage of the Lacey Act. Prior to its passage, commercial hunters bled the land white, shooting everything that moved. Wild game merchants sold pigeons for a penny apiece, and ducks for only a little more.

Hunters, using cannons loaded with shrapnel, would shoot 400 ducks in a day in Maryland's Eastern Shore marshes, while market deer hunters would set up bait stations near roads and shoot 20 deer in a night.

The Lacey Act helped put an end to this kind of unrestricted slaughter of American wildlife, but it did nothing to restore badly degraded habitat.

Wildlife without habitat is a zoo.

Habitat without wildlife is scenery.

America -- still a young nation -- remembered when it had both, and it wanted it all back.

The second steps on the road to wildlife recovery occurred between 1905 and 1911. It was during this period that Theodore Roosevelt set aside 42 million acres as National Forest and created an additional 53 National Wildlife Refuges as well.

It was also during this period that Congress passed the Weeks Act authorizing the U.S. government to buy up millions of acres of mountain land in the East that had been chopped clean of its forest in order to obtain wood for railroad ties, paper, firewood and timber.

With the Depression of the 1930s, and rapid migration of millions of people from the rural countryside to the city, more and more marginal farmland began to revert back to woody plots.

Spontaneous forest regeneration in Appalachia, along with tree-planting by the U.S. Government-funded Civilian Conservation Corps, helped restore more than 6 million acres of hardwood forests on denuded land purchased under the Weeks Act.

In 1937, the Wildlife Restoration Act (aka, the Pittman-Robertson Act) initiated a new tax on rifles, shotguns and ammunition, with this dedicated revenue going to help fund wildlife conservation.

Pittman-Robertson Act funds were used to purchase millions of acres of public hunting lands and to fund wildlife reintroduction efforts for Whitetail Deer, Canada Geese, Elk, Beaver, Wood Duck, Black Bear, and Wild Turkey.

In the case of Wild Turkey, initial restocking efforts were not successful. Turkey eggs were collected from wild birds, and the poults that were hatched were released into the wild. Unfortunately, these pen-raised birds were quickly decimated by predation and starvation.

New tactics were tried. A few adult Wild Turkeys were caught in wooden box traps intended for deer (picture of deer trap at right). These Wild Turkey were then moved to suitable habitat, but these adults birds also perished under the onslaught of predation.

The reintroduction of Wild Turkeys was beginning to look hopeless.

After World War II, game managers began to experiment again. This time, cannon nets -- large nets propelled by black powder rocket charges -- were used. These nets enveloped entire turkey flocks at once.

Moving an entire flock of Wild Turkeys seemed to work. The first few flocks that were relocated out of the Ozarks (the last stronghold of the Wild Turkey) began to thrive, in part because regrown forest provided more food stock for the birds to live on. The millions of acres of mountain land purchased in 1911 under the Weeks Act had, by now, become large stands of maturing hardwoods in the National Forest system.

Turkeys caught in a cannon net.

Systematic restocking of Wild Turkey continued through the 1950s and 60s, and by 1973, when the National Wild Turkey Federation was formed, the population of wild birds in the U.S. had climbed to 1.3 million.

With the creation of the National Wild Turkey Federation, more sportsmen and private land owners were recruited for habitat protection and Wild Turkey reintroduction.

Today, the range of the American Wild Turkey is more extensive than ever, and the total Wild Turkey population has climbed to 5.5 million birds.

Wild turkey hunting is now a billion-dollar-a-year industry, with 2.6 million hunters harvesting about 700,000 birds a year.

And so, when we are giving Thanksgiving this Thursday, let us remember not only the Wild Turkey and America's hunting heritage, but also such "big government" programs as the Weeks Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Pittman-Robertson Act, the National Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Clean Water Act.

Without Uncle Sam -- and your tax dollars -- much of America's wildlife would now be gone.

It was Uncle Sam -- and Mother Nature's natural fecundity -- that brought back the Wild Turkey, the Beaver, the Elk, the Whitetail Deer, the Black Bear, and the Bald Eagle. Ted Nugent and the National Rifle Association were nowhere to be seen, and neither were Bass Pro Shops or salesmen pushing Yamaha ATVs.

So next time you are in forest or field, remember Uncle Sam, and thank God for Mother Nature. Whether you know it or not, your hunting and fishing has always depended on both of them.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great American Migrations

Click pictures to enlarge.

Photos from National Geographic via the Big Picture blog

The National Geographic Great Migrations series premiered on Sunday, November 7 on the National Geographic Channel and will be repeated.  A book and CD are also available.

New Term of the Day - Gate Rape

See if you can work this question in at the Thanksgiving Day table:

"So, did they gate-rape you at the LAX terminal?

I love the fact that Engrish is so quick to embrace new verbia.

Now we just need a new term for the wonderful "pick one" decision that says we either have to be:

  1. Blown up by a suicide-bomb-carrying terrorist,
  2. Suffer an electronic strip search or,
  3. Be groped by someone who could not get a good job a McDonald's.

Link to video from Saturday Night Live.

Clint Eastwood Was Not a Terrierman

“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig.   You dig.”
. . . . - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kackel Dackel

This is a German game called "Kackel Dackel." A Dackel is simple any Dachshund, while the term "Teckel" is  used for working dachshunds that have passed a formal hunting or tracking test.

The goal of the "Kackel Dackel" game is to collect neon-yellow poops. Food advances down the dog's noisy digestive track as detemined by a rolling of the dice.  The kid who wins, is the one who fills up his wheelbarrow with dog turds first.   I am pretty sure this is not a game I would have played as a kid!

Morning Edition Tomorrow

I get a few quotes on NPR's Morning Edition tomorrow, talking about the war on fraud -- especially health care fraud.  For a previous interview on this topic, see here.   For how this relates to canine health, see here.

Coffee and Provocation

Marketing Madness:
Doggy Java (see ad, above) is caffeine free, beef flavored “coffee” for dogs served in a Canine Cappuccino Cup with a Bonescotti Biscuit.  No link, as this is stupid, and I am not going to help.

Jemima Harrison Has a Blog!
It's called (what else??) Pedigree Dogs Exposed.  Check it out, especially the video of the bulldog at Discover Dogs and the panic it caused for cover-up queen Caroline Kisko.  Excellent.

Oldest Bald Eagle?
A roadkill Bald Eagle in New Brunswick, Canada, was banded as a nestling in Maine in June 1977; this makes it the oldest Bald Eagle recorded in the wild at 32 years, 10 months. Another Bald Eagle found dead in Maine lived to be 32 years, 4 months.

879-Pound "Wild Pet" Black Bear Shot By Crossbow Hunter in PA:
A record-breaking 879-pound black bear was legally killed by a crossbow hunter in the Poconos.  How did this bear happen to get so big?  Apparently it was fed human food almost since birth.  The 17-year old bear, named "Bozo" was fed by Leroy Lewis, age 71, and it was shot near the small trailer where Lewis lived.  The bear was essentially a tame animal who lived on Italian foods from a local restaurant, as well as donuts and other foods supplied by Lewis.  Lewis had been fined for feeding the bear, but he apparently still set out food.  The man who shot the bear, David Price, set out to shoot a bear with his three brothers, a cousin and a friend. 

Who has the best warranties?  According to Kevin Kelly over at Cool Tools, his readers recommend
Patagonia, REI, LL Bean, Zippo lighters, Sears and Craftsman brand  tools, Shimano rods and reels, Gerber Knives and Tools, Victorinox (the makers of Swiss Army knives), Fiskars, Orvis, Columbia Sports Wear, Jansport, North Face, Farberware, Pelican waterproof cases, Leatherman tools, MagLite Flashlights, Eastern Mountain Sports, ESEE Knives, Spyderco  Knives, Cross Pens, Costco, C.C. Filson, and Eastpak backpacks.  A smart bit of political advice for those who send in 30-year old stuff and want new stuff back:  think about the long-term consequences of abusing store policies.  "Don't take advantage of good policies. You'll miss them when they're gone."

Fly Like You're Dying:
From MSNBC comes this little statistical conundrum about TSA screenings: The chance of you dying from cancer from the low-level X-rays is about the same as being struck by lightning in any one year.... and about equal to the probability that an airplane will get blown up by a terrorist.   Bottom line:  You're going to die one day.  Pick a method, and go on your way.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How Old Is This Den?

How old is this den?

Twenty years? Forty years? It was clearly started when the tree was young -- probably no more than a sapling.

In fact, there's a good chance this tree was started in the loose kickout of a groundhog den many generations ago, making the den, older than the tree.

This groundhog pipe is still very much used today, even though it is not too much bigger around than a coke can at the entrance.

Solid tree-trunk sides to the entrance are only part of the protection here. The burrow itself goes down into the fortress roots of the tree, the space having been carved out by decades of careful root trimming and gnawing.

Enter a dog? Forget it!

Even if the dog could get in, there is no back door bolt hole to this sette, so no hope of success as there is no way to dig it.

Add in the small chance that a skunk is inside, with the gas to kill a dog, and you see why some dens musty be given a pass.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flying with Cape Vultures

Pretty cool video! 

This is Kerri Wolters flying with Cape Vultures in South Africa. 

The major threat to these birds is poison, much of it made in the United States and which has also been implicated in massive numbers of lion poisonings

Another problem is Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflamatory drug (NSAID), used on cattle and horses, but toxic to old-world vultures

A final problem has been unbridled tourism, which has disturbed the limited number of breeding areas for these birds. 

Conservation efforts are now underway, headed by Vulture Conservation South Africa.

A Christmas Puppy I Can Recommend

It's almost Thanksgiving, which means you're going to hear a lot of people warn (quite correctly) that "a puppy is for LIFE not just for Christmas."

Agreed.... with one small exception.... the "Emotional Response Puppy" from Hammacher Schlemmer.

Yes, Hammacher Schlemmer -- the toy catalogue for rich folks.

There, for the modest sum of $99.95, you can buy The Emotional Response Puppy:

This is the plush puppy that mimics a real canine's behavior when it feels a child's touch or hears a sound. Beneath the puppy's soft, furry coat are sensors in its paws, head, and back that, along with a built-in microphone, trigger lifelike canine responses when it is patted, tickled, or hugged. Depending on how it perceives the touch or sound, it opens its mouth while panting or barking, wiggles its ears, blinks its eyes, or enthusiastically wags its tail (Play Video). The puppy's actions are accompanied by any of 18 lifelike sounds, from a playful bark or a peevish grumble to a curious snuffle or a forlorn whimper. When ignored for several minutes, it takes a snore-emitting nap, sleeping soundly until a touch or noise rouses it. Poseable front legs let it sit or lie down. Includes 4 C batteries. Ages 6 and up. 18 3/4" H x 10" W x 18 1/2" D. (3 lbs.)

A perfect solution for a lot of people, and for a wide variety lot of reasons.   

So spread the word, and tell folks not to delay! 

Oh, and the breed?   Bella (pictured) is a Portugese Water Dog puppy, and there appears to be a Golden Retriever puppy available by the name of "Buddy."  

No inbreeding or health problems with these ones, though -- just replace the batteries once in a while!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Strange Fruit of Class Warfare

Post recycled from this blog circa September 2004.

In "The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age," author Harriet Ritvo [Harvard University Press, 1989] points out that the Dog Show crowd and the Animal Rights crowd spring from the same root-stock of sentiment, and in both cases the animals are the side-show, not the main event.

Ritvo writes that in the Victorian era and into the 20th Century dog show folks "elevated standards that had no basis in nature or aesthetics but reflected the ignorant, self-interested caprices of fanciers who wished to boost the prestige of their own stock in order to associate themselves with people of good breeding."

And, of course, it paid, with show winners being sold for cash -- a quick way for people of low rank to buy themselves up the social ladder. If one had a dog that was "best of breed," then surely the owner must be of similar worth, right??

Ritvo notes that terriers were particularly singled out for attention by the show ring preeners and pretenders, and that "'The Fox Terrier Chronicle, the only 19th Century periodical devoted to a single breed of dogs, covered the terrier elite the way that newspapers and other periodicals covered human high society."

Ritvo notes that dog fanciers projected "an obsessively detailed vision of a stratified order, which sorted animals and, by implication, people into snug and appropriate niches" with dog shows offering "a dizzying range of classes and then abstracted from them a carefully calibrated hierarchy of animals, ranging from those who did not place even in their sub-breed category to the best in show."

In short, the attraction of dog shows was that people who themselves were as common as a turnip top could now fancy that they were among the social elite. They did not have to have real knowledge of animals, or have an important job or title or large estate -- they just had to purchase a dog from a "reputable" show breeder and put on airs.

As one Victorian periodical noted, "nobody now who is anybody can afford to be followed about by a mongrel dog." Ritvo notes that "Specialist clubs were supposed to defend their breeds against the vicissitudes of fashion, but they had few other guides in their attempts to establish standards for breeds and judges."

Even in the Victorian era, almost no one walking into the ring with a "working" breed actually worked their dogs. After almost half a century of formal shows, the author of a manual for dog owners noted that "the sportsman will, as a rule, have nothing to do with the fancier's production."

All of the above is from the Second chapter of Ritvo's book. The Third chapter is about the rise of the Animal Rights movement, and here we see the same class issues popping up that we did in the previous chapter.

Just as honest working dogs were labeled "mongrels best for the dustbin," so too were the people that owned them. The analogies made were simple and direct: Course people had course dogs and engaged in course behavior. Show people had "pedigree" dogs and they did not engage in course behavior. Of course, not everything was quite as simple as this in the real world. No matter -- the goal of the RSPCA was not entirely about animals anyway -- it was in no small part about putting down the poor and the rural and castigating them for having "undisciplined" values. Towards this end, Ritvo notes that the tracts of the RSPCA "implicitly identified the lower classes as the source of brutality," even as this same organization gave "the big wink" to fox hunting and grouse hunting which were common pastimes of the rich and landed.

Today, of course, the people you see at a PETA rally and the folks that you see trotting their dogs around a show ring are not all that different demographically. In his book "In Defense of Hunting," James A. Swan notes that the Animal Rights crowd is dominated by people that are "white, urban, predominantly female, nicely dressed" and that many of them are "people who have gone through painful divorces or have had traumatic childhoods or have otherwise been hurt by the norms of society."

Man Vs. Dog :: A Battle in Five Rounds


What They Were Searching For

What they were looking for at www.terrierman.com:

fox digging with terriers
groundhog scat identification
terrier locators
unregistered lakeland terriers
hunting terriers AND recall
Den Terrier
Skunk Toxic Shock
american working terrier sites
working terriers usa
american working terrier club of america
Woodchuck hunting with Terriers
working terrier kennels in america
american working terriers book
american working terrier association
fox sette
terrier locator
working lakelands
grafter spoon hole
insect invasion east coast
working patterdale
american working dog locator
border terrier red fell
coon tongs
working terriers of america
american working terrier association
american badger use of hedgeropws
jagt terrier
locating a fox
Structural Characteristics Common Among Terriers
german terrier locator
locators for terriers
german hunt terrier common diseases
border terrier club of america
american working terriers
teckels working badgers
19th century fox hunting in america
where dexplain impact of geography on jack russell terriers
how to set fox nets
working sealyham
jacht terrier

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hawks and Dogs as Icons of Culture

I found this terrific little video over at Another Falconry Blog.  

It seems UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, has officially recognized falconry as a living human heritage.

Good idea!  

A pity the British did not move to do the same for terrier work.

I tried, of a fashion, back in 2006 when the "Icons of Britain" contest was set up. Back then I took a few moments to suggest The Working Terrier as a fitting icon, noting that:

The terrier is the quintessential dog of England; the canine thread that weaves its way through the tapestry of the English countryside. It is gallant and brave, equally at home in country or city, castle or allotment, at the end of a Lord's leash or in the hedge bushing out a rabbit for a young boy. This is a no-nonsense dog with the drive to conquer the world (if not quite the physical presence). Every region of England lays claim to one type of terrier or another, each with their own characteristics. If England has a dog, it is the terrier.

And what happened as a result? Well not much. Of the 1,160 icons of England suggested, it rose to number 309.

And so what made it as an Icon of Britain?   Morris Dancing, queuing, and Chicken Tikka Masala!

Is Slentrol Just Illness in a Bottle?

Michael S. writes:

I've been researching Slentrol [a dog weight reduction drug sold by Pfizer].... Nearly everyone who has publicly commented on the issue seems to agree with your basic position: A pet owner can control diet composition and amount of food intake by the pet, and dogs need exercise anyway, so a diet pill for dogs is superfluous.....And Slentrol was recently in the news when the FDA announced in October that it was going to do a voluntary review of Slentrol side-effects as related to dog genetics.

Anyway, I have two questions that maybe you can help me with:

(1) Several sources say that Slentrol was researched as a human diet pill but rejected by the FDA. I can't find anything about this on the FDA website or anywhere else first-hand. Have you ever found such a reference?

(2) Nearly everyone quoted Pfizer's reaction to the FDA review, but nobody at all quoted the AVMA's letter to the FDA, which is here.  I think the AVMA makes some good points in the third to fifth paragraph. I'd be interested in your comments on them.

I am no expert in Slentrol
, but I answered what I knew to be true:

FDA approval for drugs, human or animal, is not open-ended. What I mean by that is that approval is for a defined problem in a specific situation or animal. What the FDA is weighing is:

(1) the efficacy of the drug;

(2) the health risks associated with the drug or device as compared to the disease or condition, and;

(3) the availability of other remedies with fewer risks.

Most of the weight control drugs hit the rocks at #1 (they barely work) and #2 (messing with the endocrine system of any animal is generally not a good idea when all you need to do, in most cases, is eat less and exercise more).

Approval of a drug in humans involves Phase I, II and III trials, and often post-FDA approval Phase IV trials as well. All of these trials are expensive, and a company will withdraw a drug from trial if the side effect in humans are such that the drug it not likely to be a big seller. That's what happened with Slentrol, from what I understand.

Humans simply did not tolerate the drug very well and Pfizer decided it would not sell.

Because a drug is approved for humans or dogs does not make it entirely safe or even good medicine for the problem at hand. Look at Cox-2 drugs, like Vioxx and Bexta. Both were approved for humans, even though they have never been shown to me more effective than aspirin, and then analysis of Phase IV trials revealed that both of these drugs were implicated in killing people (Vioxx alone may have cost over 20,000 human lives). And yet, Rimadyl, a Cox-2 drug never approved for humans, is still given out for dogs by vets. Why? As I have noted on my blog, most of the time it's a drug that is overly expensive and not provably better than a cheap buffered aspirin. To be clear, I think there's a place for Rimadyl, but it's not the first order of medicine for a dog with a sprain or a cut that is knitting up on its own. And yet vets love it, because it's a huge profit center, something buffered aspirin will never be...

.....As for the AVMA and Pfizer, you might want to look on my blog and see the nice cozy relationship they have. Pfizer underwrites the AVMA annual conference, and the AVMA makes money selling Pfizer products.

As for AVMA president Ron DeHaven, he is little more than tambourine-shaker for veterinary bill padding, upcoding, price-gouging, and the sale of medically unnecessary goods and services.   He is also the person who did little-to-nothing to end the horrors of puppy mills when he was with USDA, and head of the division that was supposed to be taking action there. Again, see my blog where I have pictures, video and text that make the case about both the AVMA, Pfizer, and Ron DeHaven.

Tonight, while researching
something job-related and having to do with the human side of health care chicanery, I came across this nice article on Slentrol by Jim Edwards at BNet. He writes:

Ignorance is bliss, if Pfizer’s opposition to a small FDA study to see if certain dogs experience more adverse events on Slentrol, a weight-loss pill for hounds, is to be believed. Why would Pfizer not want to know whether certain genetic breeds of dogs react differently to the diet drug?

The company says the test is unwarranted:

Given that the majority of adverse reactions that have been received are consistent with mild labeled adverse reactions and that the breeds represented in these cases are consistent with breed popularity and the most commonly observed obese breeds, there does not appear to be any correlation between specific dog breeds and specific adverse events ...

The study underlines one of the chief concerns about the drug industry’s rush into the pet-med category: Dogs and cats can’t complain if they believe the drug is harming them. Even better, they can’t get onto the Internet and inform other patients of the side effects they’re experiencing. Sure, an owner can report physical or behavioral side effects to a vet, but she can’t report mental side effects or internal organ changes that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

This issue is particularly acute for Pfizer’s Slentrol for three reasons:

(1) The FDA is leery of approving diet drugs for humans precisely because their side effects are often so weird.

(2) It’s possible that side effects on pet meds are under reported because dogs can’t talk.

(3) Three of Slentrol’s major side effects are unhealthy responses that might also lead to weight loss: vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia. Click to enlarge this image of the Slentrol adverse reaction list:

Could it be that some dogs lose weight on Slentrol not because of its efficacy but because they feel so sick while taking it?

It’s also interesting that the prescribing information indicates that the control group received corn oil but does not say that the Slentrol group received it. My local vet tells me there’s no reason for a dog to receive corn oil, even if you’re trying to make its coat shiny. There are dog food supplements for that. She did say, however, that corn oil would be a good way to give a dog diarrhea. Could it be that that diarrhea in the control group is overstated due to corn oil, making diarrhea in the Slentrol group look less dramatic by comparison?

Pfizer gave this reason for the corn oil:

Control dogs received corn oil to simulate Slentrol’s oil-based carrier of its active ingredient (dirlotapide).

Which suggests to this layperson that if the dogs had been corn-oil free, like normal dogs, then the diarrhea side effect would indeed be much lower in the control group.

And finally: You could always give your dog less food and walk him more.

Just a thought.

Right. Just a thought.

It's just a thought that the AVMA is taking payola from Pfizer to make your dog sick.

It's just a thought that the AVMA is the store selling the drugs and the trade association ginning up a contrived need, and the group trying to prevent FDA review.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shelter Kills Dog Rescued from Afghanistan

From MSNBC comes this horrific story:

FLORENCE, Arizona — A dog named Target that lived through explosions in war-torn Afghanistan couldn't survive a brief stay at an Arizona animal shelter.

The shepherd mix was featured on "The "Oprah Winfrey Show" and local media for her heroics in Afghanistan, got loose from her owners on Friday and was put down on Monday after spending the weekend in a county shelter.

An unidentified employee at the Pinal County facility was placed on administrative leave after euthanizing the female shepherd mix by mistake, county Animal Care and Control officials said.

"I'm heartsick over this," Ruth Stalter, the county animal control director, said in a written statement. "I had to personally deliver the news to the dog's owner and he and his family are understandably distraught."

Yeah, you read that right. We're supposed to feel sorry for the county animal control director. Because it's all about her.

While in Afghanistan, this war-hero dog frightened a suicide bomber inside a military base and potentially saved dozens of soldiers' lives.

The dog was treated like royalty by U.S. troops, who brought it to "safety" in the U.S.

But what the Taliban could not kill, Animal Control in Florence, Arizona did.

And why? The answer is here:  Beyond the Blue Solution of Dog Shelter Death.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Doing Right by the Dog

My December column for Dogs Today.
Illustration by Kevin Brockbank for Dogs Today.

I’ve buried a few dogs.

I had one terrier run down a field on a sunny day and collapse dead in the grass. I will never be certain, but I suspect that sudden death was the late legacy of a Black Widow Spider that had bitten the dog a few months earlier and left it paralyzed and on the edge of life for six hours. The dog seemed to fully recover, and went back to work, but something unseen and elemental must have weakened and finally given way on that fateful day. I was shattered.

I’ve buried other dogs. I’ve gone downstairs in the morning and found a 10-year old dog stiff in its sleeping crate, dead from a congenital heart defect that afflicted others in the same litter.

I’ve even buried dogs owned by others and dug them up again, a situation occasioned by an ancient dog which had the last of its many small strokes as it teetered over the edge of a tiny goldfish pond. My elderly parents were on holiday in the Middle East when it happened and, after I fished the dead dog out, I buried her in their yard, only to dig her up, a half hour later, to retrieve the collar in case they wanted it for memory’s sake.

They didn’t.

And, of course, I have had to put a few dogs down in old age. The most memorable of those was on Christmas morning. While everyone else was opening presents, I was down at the vets. I had hoped to get through the holidays. I dawdled. I thought of myself and the kids. And in the end, I did not do right by that dog.

Doing right by the dog.

It sounds easy, but it’s not, and in my experience most people are too late, and almost no one is too early.

That is the topic of this column.

A Death Foreordained

I will start by noting that while all dogs die, not all dogs die in old age.

Many die young, the product of hump-and-dump breeders who sell puppies to anyone with cash.

A high percentage of these dogs live sad and tumultuous lives and die young. The cute puppy becomes the loud, chewing dog that constantly needs to be walked. Ownership may change hands, and in the end the dog is dead from a vehicle impact, or perhaps it drinks from a puddle of antifreeze, or is surrendered to a shelter and left unclaimed for one day too long.

Then, of course, there is the young dog that comes down with a serious congenital defect.

Too often the owners of these dogs went to a show breeder to buy a working dog, all the while saying “they just wanted a pet.”

Too often they bought a puppy, while ignoring all the fine dogs with wagging tails lined up on death row at the local shelter.

Too often they did not get hip scores on the dam and sire, nor did they look at coefficients of inbreeding, nor did they look at previous progeny from the same mating.

Too often they did not request test results for the most common health problems in the breed.

Instead, the dog was a “cash-and-carry” purchase. What was important at the time was not health, but that the drive was not too far, and that the dog look exactly like the ideal in the all-breed book.

And, of course, what was important was the pretension implicit in the pedigree and the kennel name.

Now, of course, there is not much pretension.

A year after the purchase, the dog is deformed or diseased or defective in some way, and the owner is now complaining bitterly, to all who will listen, that they “got took” by an unscrupulous breeder.

Of course, that’s not quite the way it happened, is it?

It was the owner that took this dog.

It was the owner that waltzed by the pound and went to a Kennel Club breeder insisting on a puppy.

It was the owner that wanted to buy a working dog to keep as a pet, and who thought going to a show breeder was the way to accomplish that ill-conceived plan.

And, of course, it was the owner who failed to ask for any and all health tests, and who failed to run screaming when given nonsensical answers.

No Excuse

Does the owner have any excuse?

No, not really.

After all, we live in the Age of Google. Ten serious searches for health information on any common breed, will tell you all you need to know 95% of the time.

But some things never change, and chief among them is that too many people are willful and lazy. They want a dog that looks like the one in the picture book, and they want it NOW, and they do not want to drive too far, and they do not want to be the kind of person who asks tough questions and walks away when given weak answers.

And so bad breeders survive, and people continue to whine about the deformed, diseased and defective animals they acquire from modern day dog dealers.

Of course, some will protest that they did the research, that they checked the coefficients of inbreeding, and that they made sure all the proper tests were done. They researched the health of the sire and dam, and they researched their previous progeny as well.


But if all this was done, why blame the breeder for health problems that cropped up in the dog?

Surely we all understand that even the very best breeders are neither Gods nor psychics?

There are no absolute guarantees with any living thing, and that includes the health of your own children.

Which is not to say that a good breeder will not meet you halfway. They will. If the dog’s defect is so serious that the young dog needs to be put to sleep, most breeders will refund your purchase price, and put the dog down themselves.

But don’t expect more.

Dogs, after all, don’t come with a bill of rights; they come with a list of responsibilities.

Responsibility number one, after food, water, shelter and exercise, is to pay your health care bill down at the veterinary.

Life, Unblinking

The good news, if there is any, is that some serious health problems in young dogs can be solved with an outlay of a few thousand pounds. Dysplastic hips and knees can be repaired, cleft palettes fixed, and obstructed airways cleared. If you cannot afford a $3,000 veterinary bill in the first two years of your new dog, then you need to either get pet insurance, or reconsider getting a dog altogether.

The bad news is that if your young dog has a failing liver, faltering heart, or frayed central nervous system, the proper solution may be sodium pentobarbital -- a quick and humane death to avoid the pain, suffering, and compromised quality of life that is sure to follow and only get worse. Death is part of life, and we should not shy away from it. We must do right by the dog.

Of course, I realize I come to this with a hunter’s heart. I have made my peace with death, and most people have not. All I can tell you is that there is more to living than longevity, and sometimes the best gift we can give those we love is a dignified end that is free of pain, confusion and fear.

And so now we come to the old dog, the ancient hound who now lies arthritic and deaf.

What do we do here? How will we know when to say when?

There is no clear answer, other than to keep your eyes open.

If the dog refuses water, it is time.

If an old male dog has blood in its urine, it is time.

If a dog cannot stand on its own due to failing joints, it is time.

Do not let the dog live in pain.

Recognize that dogs are natural stoics, and what looks like a little pain may be a great deal more than that.

Which brings me to the most important point: Be early, not late.

A week early, and not much is lost; your much-loved dog slides off to sleep still free of anxiety, pain, and fear. It is a gentle thing, I assure you.

A week late, however, and you have needlessly tortured your best friend because you were unwilling to face the inevitable.

In the end, it is your job to stand for the dog, and to put the dog first.

This is your last duty.

Don’t fail him now.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Simple Day in Forest and Field

A beautiful day out in forest and field; dry with a high of 62 degrees. 

I went to a farm near the house. The leaves were falling so fast, you could hear them.

It's deer season now, so even when I hunt on Sunday, I keep my eyes peeled for deer stands, flagging, and hunters.   I'm happy to say I saw no one; I almost never do.

The sunflower field at the front of the farm had been cut over, revealing a bag of dove decoys left behind. I didn't even know there were dove decoys.  I was not sure what to do with them, but dove season is long gone, so now they are in my garage.

Mountain and Gideon found a stone-lined sette they like well enough.  They both did a through-and-through (twice!) but never opened up. No one home, apparently, but whatever had been there must have just left, as both dogs were walking on their toes with excitement. 

Mountain bolted a very large groundhog from an eight-eyed sette, part of which was under this rusting hulk of farm machinery.  The groundhog slid out and went about 8 feet up the tree, but when I shouted, it came back down the trunk and disappeared into the underbrush, never to be located again.   Mountain, of course, was underground and Gideon was tied up on the edge of the field.  Oh well.  At least the dogs found.

Form Over Function

Welcome to the Kennel Club!

I have always been amazed that so many women parade dogs around a ring. 

It's a beauty show people; form over function. 

Brains is given a ZERO, work is given a ZERO, and health is given a ZERO. 

And that's true of ALL Kennel Club shows Zero, Zero, Zero.

If you would not hire a woman based on her cup size, why would you value a dog, based on appearance alone?  

When you hold a leash inside a show ring, what are your saying about the values at your end of the leash?

Yes, of course, it's possible to get a good-looking dog that is not insane, can work, and is healthy. But get your priorities straight.

If you do not put brains, temperament, work and health first, then you are probably putting them last -- after breed, after registry, after gender, after color, and after age.

And you wonder why so many people have dogs, marriages and businesses that are a mess?  Bad priorities!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Finding the Right Dog

I wrote this post in August 2005, and it's still true today.

Jack Russells come in all sorts of strange shapes and sizes. Some have ears that are erect, some down, some are longer than they are tall, some are pure white, some are as colored as a beagle.

There are smooth coats, broken coats and dogs hairier that a Wookie straight out of Star Wars.

A Jack Russell's legs may be straight as sticks or as ornately curved as those of a Queen Anne bench. Its chest may be as small around as a lady's bracelet, or as big around as a bowling ball.

How do you sort it out?

Simple: Get a dog registered with the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, and accept no substitutes.

I do not breed dogs, I do not show dogs, and I do not judge dogs. My reason for recommending the JRTCA gene pool is solely practical: The JRTCA records the size of dogs and also offers working certificates. The result is a documented track record of work and size that can be tracked across a five-generation pedigree.

When you are looking for a working terrier, nothing is more valuable.

Buyer beware, of course. Most JRTCA dogs are show dogs or pets, and only about 5% hunt. That said, a disproportionate number of the dogs being bred have hunted, and most terriers you are going to to be interested in have solid workers in their immediate past.

The good news is that with a JRTCA dog you can look through a pedigree and see whether there is a track record of work and what the size of that dog's dam, sire, grand-dam and grand-sire were. With hundreds of well-documented working JRTCA dogs in America, the chance of finding an acceptable working terrier is higher in the JRTCA gene pool than anywhere else.

Was $18.95, Now $4,000

These were the kind of ads that used to be in the back of comic books when I was a kid.  To this day, exotic pets continue to appeal to young people with weak bank accounts and unstable lives who think buying an exotic might be "cool" -- like owning a pair of zebra-striped pants.  Of course, odd pants can be tossed to the back of a closet and forgotten when you decide that "personality" does not quite fit.  Not so with an animal that may live a decade or more.

Today Squirrel Monkeys cost over $4,000 each and require a special license, and in most locations they are entirely illegal.   Baby raccoons can be had for $250 or so, but they too generally require a special license and/or are entirely illegal. 

For the record, both animals make lousy pets.  They are far more work than most people are prepared for, and in practice they are far less fun than owning a dog or cat.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Mountain Lion Meets His Match

From the BBC comes this little tale of Jack Russells in America:

A mountain lion found it was no match for a Jack Russell terrier which trapped it up a tree on a farm in the US state of South Dakota.

The dog's owner, Chad Strenge, heard frantic barking near the family's farm in Colman, Moody County.

He discovered the 150lb (68kg) male lion, also known as a cougar, clinging to the top of a tree with 17lb (8kg) terrier Jack at the bottom.

Mr Strenge, helped by his dog, chased the mountain lion and shot it dead.

"He trees cats all the time," Mr Strenge told The Argus Leader newspaper. "I suppose he figured it was just a cat."

Thanks to Shirley T. at the Yes Biscuit blog for this clip!

Tea Party Dog Care

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Big Red Dogs
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Remember, giving puppies adequate food and adequate water and adequate space is "exhorbitant care" (see the video!).

This is stuff I could NOT Make up!

It's "the same as Obama Care." It's "One more step to making us a communist and socialist society."

Watch the whole thing, and you will never drink tea again!

Did Someone Say the Dog Days Are Over?

I think Florence and the Machine did...the Dog Dogs Are Over.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yorkie Doodle Dandie

Various types of terriers have had cameo roles in war. This is another one of those tales.

The dog in question is a 4-pound Yorkshire terrier by the name of "Smoky" whose famous feat is that she carried a line through a 70-foot-long drainpipe beneath an airplane runway in the South Pacific in World War II. Why this was important is not entirely clear.

In any case, "Smoky" also flew 12 combat missions with former Cleveland Plain Dealer photographer Bill Wynne, was one of the first therapy dogs in the U.S., and starred in a postwar television show as well as a book on her exploits.

Believe it or not, this little dog already has monuments erected to it in Eastlake and Columbus, Ohio as well as Tennessee, Missouri and Hawaii. Now a sixth monument is to be erected in Cleveland, this one a bronze statue of the dog wearing a helmet.

Bill Wynne, Smoky's owner, taught Smoky to play dead, run between his legs as he walked along, walk on a drum, peddle a small scooter, walk on a tight wire blindfolded, and spell out her own name using letters cut out of cardboard.

After the War, Smoky and Bill were in show business for 10 years doing tricks, and Bill spent some time training and handling dogs in major studios.

This post is recycled from March 2005.