Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seven Pups for Seven People

Watch this video.  It's long, but it's worth it.

This kind of autopsy on what really happens to litters of puppies is too rarely done.

From what I can tell, most "dog breeders" are little more than "hump and dump" dog dealers.

Yes, there are people who will REALLY take back a dog any time it needs to be re-homed, but NO, those people are NOT the norm in the world of dog sales, and there is a LOT of difference between saying it and actually doing it.

The simple truth is that about 20 percent of all dogs born in the U.S. every year are abandoned to their death, and an equal or higher number end up being bounced from their first "forever" owner to their second or third owner, without any continuity of care or training.

One of the few writers to ever give an unblinking look at what really happened to a litter that they themselves bred, was J.R. Ackerley, the author of My Dog Tulip

Ackerley starts off breeding his dog with all good intent, but in the end the litter that is produced is whelped by a temperamentally poor bitch (Tulip) to a stud dog of no consequence. 

The eight pups that result quickly overwhelm Ackerley and his apartment to the point that, despite all apparent intention of doing the right thing at the front end, on the back end he ends up abandoning the pups to anyone with a fiver who will walk one out the door.

What happens next is predictable:  disease, disappearance, abandonement and death. 

And this was J.R. Ackerley!  He was not a mean person, a knuckle-dragger, an illiterate, or a person without some means. 

This was simply one more person who did not understand the full responsibility that comes when you bring a living thing into this world.  When faced with shouldering that responsibility he failed.  Yes, he lost a little of his dignity but those pups lost their life.


It's the R-word no one really wants to talk about too much in the world of dogs.  

Instead, people want to talk about property rights and ribbons.  But responsibility to the dog?  Responsibility to the puppies being whelped? 

When was the last time anyone said too much about that?

Happy Birthday Mark Twain!

Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was born on November 30, 1835. This is his best dog story.

A Dog’s Tale, by Mark Twain

My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a Presbyterian. This is what my mother told me; I do not know these nice distinctions myself. To me they are only fine large words meaning nothing. My mother had a fondness for such; she liked to say them, and see other dogs look surprised, and envious, as wondering how she got so much education. But indeed it was not real education, it was only show; she got the words by listening in the dining room and drawing room when there was company, and by going with the children to Sunday school and listening there; and whenever she heard a large word she said it over to herself many times, and so was able to keep it until there was a dogmatic gathering in the neighborhood, then she would get it off and surprise and distress them all, from pocket-pup to mastiff, which rewarded her for all her trouble.

If there was a stranger he was nearly sure to be suspicious; and when he got his breath again he would ask her what it meant. And she always told him. He was never expecting this, but thought he would catch her; so when she told him, he was the one that looked ashamed, whereas he had thought it was going to be she. The others were always waiting for this, and glad of it and proud of her, for they knew what was going to happen, because they had had experience. When she told the meaning of a big word they were all so taken up with admiration that it never occurred to any dog to doubt if it was the right one; and that was natural, because, for one thing, she answered up so promptly that it seemed like a dictionary speaking, and for another thing, where could they find out whether it was right or not? for she was the only cultivated dog there was.

By and by when I was older, she brought home the word Unintellectual, one time, and worked it pretty hard all the week at different gatherings, making much unhappiness and despondency; and it was at this time that I noticed that during that week she was asked for the meaning at eight different assemblages and flashed out a fresh definition every time, which showed me that she had more presence of mind than culture, though I said nothing, of course. She had one word which she always kept on hand and ready, like a life-preserver, a kind of emergency-word to strap on when she was likely to get washed overboard in a sudden way—that was the word Synonymous.

When she happened to fetch out a long word which had had its day weeks before and its prepared meanings gone to her dump-pile, if there was a stranger there of course it knocked him groggy for a couple of minutes, then he would come to, and by that time she would be away down the wind on another tack and not expecting anything; so when he’d hail and ask her to cash-in, I (the only dog on the inside of her game) could see her canvas flicker a moment—but only just a moment—then it would belly out taut and full and she would say as calm as a summer’s day, “it’s synonymous with supererogation” or some godless long reptile of a word like that, and go placidly about and skim away on the next tack perfectly comfortable, you know, and leave that stranger looking profane and embarrassed and the initiated slatting the floor with their tails in unison, and their faces transfigured with a holy joy.

Welcome to the Future

Future pets?

Future fox hunting?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Go-to-Ground Lurcher and Hawk

A nice little video from T.S. Wright showing Cog, the Hybrid Falcon, and Loki the Lurcher digging a Jackrabbit out of a hole after a long flight.  

This is real four-species interaction, and real three-species partnership!

Jack Rabbits are actually a type of hare and do not den underground (neither do Cottontail rabbits), but will bolt into a hole if chased in hot pursuit.   I am not sure what made the original hole, but given the area, it would have to be badger, fox or prairie dog I would think.

Mosquitos? Kill Them All!

Eradicating any organism from this earth would have seriously bad consequences for entire ecosystems, right?

Well maybe not says Janet Fang, if the organism is the mosquito.  Writing in Nature magazine,

Malaria infects some 247 million people worldwide each year, and kills nearly one million. Mosquitoes cause a huge further medical and financial burden by spreading yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya virus and West Nile virus. Then there's the pest factor: they form swarms thick enough to asphyxiate caribou in Alaska and now, as their numbers reach a seasonal peak, their proboscises are plunged into human flesh across the Northern Hemisphere.

So what would happen if there were none? Would anyone or anything miss them? Nature put this question to scientists who explore aspects of mosquito biology and ecology, and unearthed some surprising answers....

...Most mosquito-eating birds would probably switch to other insects that, post-mosquitoes, might emerge in large numbers to take their place. Other insectivores might not miss them at all: bats feed mostly on moths, and less than 2% of their gut content is mosquitoes. "If you're expending energy," says medical entomologist Janet McAllister of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colorado, "are you going to eat the 22-ounce filet-mignon moth or the 6-ounce hamburger mosquito?"

With many options on the menu, it seems that most insect-eaters would not go hungry in a mosquito-free world. There is not enough evidence of ecosystem disruption here to give the eradicators pause for thought...

...Ultimately, there seem to be few things that mosquitoes do that other organisms can't do just as well — except perhaps for one. They are lethally efficient at sucking blood from one individual and mainlining it into another, providing an ideal route for the spread of pathogenic microbes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Busting Dogs Off Deer

Few things are cheaper and more reliable than a simple leash.

A video of a man screaming at his deer-chasing dog in the U.K. seems to have created a small interest in how to bust dogs off deer.

Dogs chasing deer is not a new problem but an old one, and it is not limited to deer. Dogs may bust on fox, geese, feral cats, horse, sheep, bear, and even cars and bicycles.

Anything that moves away quickly -- and especially anything that moves away while making noise -- will tend to trigger the prey drive in a dog.

What to do about it?

Well to start, recognize that prey drive is a deeply-seated code that is curled up like a watch spring in some dogs, and that pursuit is a self-reinforcing behavior.

What's that mean?

Simple enough: It means the dog gets a great deal of pleasure from the pursuit itself.  

For a dog, chasing things is a peak experience in and of itself.  It is FUN in capital letters. 

What that means for you, the owner or trainer, is that you are going to have to use all three legs of operant conditioning in order to achieve success if you have a dog with a lot of prey-drive.

As I noted in an earlier piece entitled Milking Stools and Operant Conditioning, the complete tool box of dog training (i.e. operant conditioning) can be thought of as:
  1. Reinforcement (treats, play, etc.);
  2. Punishment (voice corrections, leash corrections, etc.), and;
  3. Extinction (no reaction from behavior, desensitization).

So where to start?

Well a short history tour will do no harm.

One common way that working dog men and women have brought on new dogs in the hunt field is to couple them to old dogs so that the new sapling learns to "pack up" with the group. 

Once experienced and inexperienced hounds and terriers are coupled together for a while, the young dog tends learn that the goal is not to chase ANY scent, but a specific scent.  Hound and terrier couples are still sold, of course, but coupling an old working dog with a new prospect is not too useful a tip for the typical pet owner who has a single non-working dog.  So what else is there to do?

Another ancient technique for busting dogs off deer is to extinguish the dog's interest in deer scent by flooding the dog with deer stink. 

One method of doing this is to tie a deer's tarsal gland to a hound's collar.  Glands are actually sold for this -- see page 18 and 19 of the last (2010) Bill Boatman Catalogue -- as well as special collars and deer scent preparations sold by others.  I have never tried this method, but folks like Bill Boatman who have run beagles and large hounds longer than I have been alive (I am 52), are due some respect. 

The more traditional method of busting dogs off deer is to teach the dog a sit, to sit-stay, and to whoa (a command that simply means "stop and do not move until I release you".

All of this is done with a flat collar, a slip collar, or a prong collar, and a 6-foot leash, a 15-foot leash, and a 30-foot leash, using traditional methods that may include food rewards, clickers, pushing down bottoms, stepping on leashes, etc. 

There are a dozen ways to teach sit and sit-stay, and different dogs seem to "get it" quicker with one system or another depending on age, temperament, and the ability of the owner to communicate consistently.

Once your dog KNOWS sit and sit-stay on leash, and is 100% on these commands without distraction, you will want to take the dog to places where distractions such as other dogs, wildlife and farm stock (sheep, feral cats) are abundant. 

Work the dog on a short leash, and then on a long leash or check cord, and be quite tough on the dog when it starts to move towards a distraction and ignores a sit command.  Sit means SIT 100 percent of the time and whoa means NO moving forward!  Do not repeat commands. 

Once the dog understands that you consider deer scent and chasing cats and others dogs complete nonsense, and once the dog always obeys a sit command when on leash, you now want to move to the next stage which is making the dog bomb-proof off leash.  If your dog has a low prey drive, and is a soft and compliant dog in general, you may find it is pretty bomb-proof right off the mark, in which case lucky you!

More commonly, and especially with working dogs that have strong prey drives and no outlet for them, you will see compliance slip a bit when a dog is taken off-leash.  Old military trainers like Konrad Most and William Koehler could be pretty tough on dogs that would regress when off-leash, and for a pretty good reason:  a bolting or barking dog in a military situation can end up killing an entire platoon of humans.  Tolerance for disobedience, especially when given a sit, sit-stay, or whoa command was very low and for a darn good reason.

The good news is that today we have a new tool in hand, and while it is not the right tool for most training jobs, an e-collar is a very good tool for teaching a whoa and for busting dogs off deer provided it is used correctly.

As I note in an earlier piece entitled The Limits and Strengths of E-collars, electronic collars are NOT for teaching basic obedience, but are excellent tools for long-distance reminding.  This kind of long-distance reminding is particularly useful for deer-chasing dogs that have already been been taught sit, sit-stay, and whoa, and which have been long-lined on a check cord with distractions such as deer scent and running deer.

Again, to go back to basics, you do not start off with an e-collar by turning it up to 11.  You start with a setting so low it barely tingles, and you start using it with leash on to remind the dog that scent is a NO. 

The dog already knows this because you have taught it -- you are just reaching out and tapping the dog on the shoulder as a reminder if it forgets on a long line.  Yes, you may have to jolt the dog once or twice when the dog is a bit too excited fully off-leash at the beginning, but I have busted my own dogs off deer and never moved the collar past 3.  Remote collars are not about frying a dog -- they are about reminding a dog from a distance.

Go through the old Bill Boatman catalogue or that of any other hound and working dog shop, and you will see all the basic tools ever used to bust dogs off deer -- brace tethers, deer tarsal glands, check ropes, and e-collars. 

Here is the entire history of busting dogs off deer and other "trash" wildlife, and it all works, but the check cord and the e-collar together are the basic tools for modern field dog training because they both work well separately, even if they work best together, as described

But, of course, all of this is likely to be far too much work and bother for the owner of Fenton, the dog seen rioting on deer in the video at top. 

Here, what is needed is nothing more than a leash, or perhaps a simple 20 foot length of parachute cord tied to a belt clip on one end and a leash on the other.

It is an old truth that few things are cheaper and more reliable than a leash, and in this particular case Fenton's owner, an architect and father of two, should have known that Richmond Park, south west of London, has a herd of deer, and it is illegal to run dogs off-leash as a consequence.

Now, the poor fellow is keeping his head low, and thinking of changing the dog's name so he does not get in trouble with the authorities.  

That's a lot of trouble that could have been solved with a check cord or a leash of the simplest variety.

Killing Dogs at Battersea

At Battersea Dogs and Cats Home outside of London, they are killing bull-staffie crosses left and right.  

Watch the whole video, above.  It's important and worth it.

Why is the Battersea "shelter" killing so many pit-bull type dogs? 

The short answer is because people continue to breed these dogs indiscriminately, and no one wants them in the number they are being bred.  That's as true in the U.K. as it is in the U.S.

Of course, this is not the story the Panorama TV crew started off to film!  They started off to say that these dogs were being put down because of the Dangerous Dogs Act.  And yes, they did find a few dogs that were put down merely for what they looked like.  On the main, however, they found something different:  that bull staffie crosses (i.e. pit bulls) and butcher dogs of other types (Rottweiler- and Boxer-crosses) were being bred and dumped indiscriminately in the U.K.,  same as they are in the U.S.  The dogs being put down are healthy and available, but no one wants them, and at Battersea perfectly fine dogs are coded "aggressive" just to make the whole thing a little easier to deal with

What's going on? 

What's going on is SILENCE in the pit bull and staffie community, and in the dog community in general, when it comes to the wholesale slaughter of these dogs.

Silence.  No one is talking about the FAILURE of the Pit Bull and staffie communities to spay-neuter their dogs, and as a consequence no breed is being killed as often.  Let me say it plain:
Silence = Death 

Look at the numbers above, which show how few Pit Bulls are neutered.  There's the Pit Bull problem -- both for the the dogs and for people.

San Francisco, which has mandatory spay-neuter for Pit Bulls has seen a steep decline in the number of Pit Bulls that are coming in to their shelters, and the numbers they are having to put down.

San Francisco appears to have found a solution. Since 2005, when the city adopted a mandatory spay-neuter law for pit bulls in the wake of the mauling death of 12-year-old Nicholas Faibish, the number of pit bulls impounded and euthanized has dropped dramatically, according to animal control officials.

"It's absolutely made a difference," said Capt. Vicky Guldbech of San Francisco's animal control department. "When I started this job, pit bulls were feared. We were afraid of them. Now when I see pit bulls in the field, they have cute wagging tails."

The shelter has seen a 25 percent decline in seized pit bulls at the shelter, and a 33 percent drop in pit bulls that are euthanized, according to animal control Director Rebecca Katz.

That's a story that the property-rights Pit Bull crowd do not mention too often.

Nor do the property-rights Pit Bull crowd talk about what happened outside of San Francisco with an un-neutered Pit Bull owned by a vocal supporter of BadRap.   Anyone want to guess what happened there?   No, it was not pretty.

But of course, the Wall of Silence remains.

We cannot talk about the nearly one million dead Pit Bulls that are killed every year in this country.

We cannot talk about the failure of the Pit Bull community to spay-neuter.

We cannot talk about the success of mandatory spay-neuter with this dog.

All we can do is bury the dead in silence, dog and human alike.


Electronic Collars are 50 Years Old

Electronic collars are 50 years old.

The ad, above, is from the 1962 Bill Boatman catalogue, and shows Bill Boatman that year with a four of his own dogs, and a couple of pets borrowed from neighbors.

By 1973, Field & Stream magazine was writing sensible articles about e-collars, including a clear and strong admonition that they were not for training, but for correction. i.e. to remind an already obedience-trained dog to do what it knows it should be doing.

Field & Stream noted that bad trainers with traditional methods are even worse trainers with e-collars, and that to be effective using an e-collar correction on a bird dog, two kinds of good timing are needed:
  1. Good timing in the field so that the correction is well-timed at the moment, and also;
  2. Good timing as far as the dog's life is concerned. If you correct a dog for chasing birds too soon, you diminish the dog's bird interest but if you wait too long and let chasing become a habit. it is much harder to break the habit once it has been started.


Pet Wolves, Hawks for Hunting, and $30 Dogs

This ad for Maryland hunting dogs is from the July 1969 issue of Field & Stream magazine.

The ad below, from the same magazine, advertises pet raccoons, pet wolves, and "hawks, falcons and owls for hunting."  Below that is an ad for a get-rich-quick scheme for raising mink. 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Bad Idea for 70 Years

From the Jan, 1941 issue of Popular Science comes this idea that has crippled people, killed dogs, and resulted in endless amounts of canine confusion:

Click to enlarge.

Wrench Rhetoric

I came across the calendar picture, above, and just a little earlier in the day I had sent someone a link to a post in which I had talked a bit about monkey wrenches.

It turns out I talk about wrenches a lot:
  • June 5, 2011: "[A]s a general rule I am not one to encourage the use of dogs as a wrench to tighten just any loose nut."
  • June 17, 2010:  "Dogs have been around a long time, and a few of us have owned dogs for more than 10 years. Use common sense. Observe. Read. Go slow. Remember that one wrench does not fit every nut."
  • March 11, 2010:  "[I]f you have a dog that is phobic, or is routinely ripping into another dog (or your child or wife) then the girls at PetSmart might not be the right wrench for that nut."
  • March 8, 2010:  "An e-collar is like a monkey wrench; it appears to be a useless and thuggish tool you will never need, right up until the minute you need it, and then its use becomes both transparent and necessary."
  • July 19, 2008:  "A judge has thrown a wrench into the push to delist the gray wolf in the northern Rockies, saying two things that seem imminently sensible to me..."
  • February 27, 2008:  "The National Rifle Association is a direct mail fear factory of the same stripe (albeit catering to a different demographic) as the Humane Society and PETA. Most gun owners see them for what they are; a useful wrench to grab and twist the gun-grabbing nuts on the far left, but not the kind of organization they actually care to support with membership dues."
  • June 16, 2007: "Dogs are a bit of a mystery, and it may take a few more turns of the wrench before I get the nuts set right."
  • January 9, 2007: "The only benefit of an e-collar is that it works long distance, which is very useful if you have a strong prey-drive in a very smart hunting dog as I do with Mountain."
  • August 31,2006:  "The simple but harsh truth is that the psycho-demographic watching the National Geographic channel tend to be people with two types of common "dog problems": They think their dog is their child, and their dog is over-fed and fat. The dog is, quite simply, being 'loved to death.'  Cesar has antidotes for both problems. He is the right wrench for this nut."
  • Dec 13, 2005:  "The world of the working terrier allows for different sized dogs for different earths, situations and quarries. Different wrenches for different nuts, so to speak.  A badger sette and a fox pipe are not the same size, nor are the animals that dig them.... The true history of the AKC breed standard seems to be that they have a breed standard written by a badger digging club that they are now presenting as a breed standard for working red fox in a natural earth.  No wonder there are so few Kennel Club dogs found in the field! It's a bit like an American mechanic showing up at a Volvo factory and wondering why none of his wrenches fit!"

Attaboy :: Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile

Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan & Edgar Meyer play "Attaboy" from The Goat Rodeo Sessions.  Hat tip to Andrew Campbell for posting this to FB..

Friday, November 25, 2011

True Terriers

Art by Kevin Brockbank for the December 2011 edition of Dogs Today magazine.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was not much for hiding behind language or engaging in obfuscation, and he would sometime pose a riddle to new staffers to underscore the point.

"If you call a tail a leg," he would ask, "how many legs does a dog have?


"No, four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."

I tell this tale, because it is more than a little germane when it comes to the taxonomy of dogs.

If I point to a cross between a Dachshund and a Corgi, and proclaim it to be a "Shenandoah Mountain Setter," does that make it a bird dog?


If I pick up a Border Collie at the shelter and insist on calling it a "Black and White Swan," does that make it a bird?


And yet, there seems to be confusion among some people in the dog world, who think words mean nothing.

Words Have Meanings

Words DO mean something.

Take, for example, the word terrier.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary and Etymology Online, this is the origin and meaning of the term:

c.1440, from O.Fr. chien terrier "terrier dog," lit. "earth dog," from M.L. terrarius "of earth," from L. terra "earth" (see terrain). So called because the dogs pursue their quarry (foxes, badgers, etc.) into their burrows.


A terrier is a small dog that goes to earth and which pursues its quarry -- foxes, badger, etc. -- into their burrows.

I could not have said it better, though I might have given a bit more history.

For example, I might have detailed the fact that Dame Juliana Berners, writing in the Boke of St. Albans (1496) noted that there were 14 basic types of dogs:

"Thyse ben the names of houndes," she wrote, "fyrste there is a Grehoun, a Bastard, a Mengrell, a Mastiff, a Lemor, a Spanyel, Raches, Kenettys, Teroures, Butchers' Houndes, Myddyng dogges, Tryndel-taylles, and Prikheridcurrys, and smalle ladyes' poppees that bere awaye the flees."

Later, in 1576, John Keys (who wrote under the Latinized name Johannes Caius) divided the world of dogs into five broad categories. Under the first group type, the Venatici, or dogs used to hunt beasts, could be found:

Leverarws or Harriers; Terrarius or Terrars; Sanguinarius or Bloodhounds; Agaseus or Gazehounds; Leporanus or Grehounds; Loranus or Lyemmer; Vertigus or Tumbler; and Cams furax or Stealer.

In an entirely different group (his fourth category), Caius noted that were various kinds of herding and guard dogs.

Canis pastoralis, or the Shepherd's Dogge; The Mastive, or Bandogge, called Canis Villaticus Or Carbenarius, which hath sundry names derived from sundry circumstances.

Breed or Type?

Prior to the 19th Century, there were very few "breeds" of dogs; most were just types.

This seems to be a point of confusion for some people who are a bit shaky as to what constitutes a "breed" versus a "type."

The Oxford English Dictionary says a breed is "a line of descendants perpetuating particular hereditary qualities."

In the modern world, it is generally deemed to be an animal that "breeds true" for at least seven generations.

But what does it mean to "breed true?"

Good people can, and do disagree. The Kennel Club, for example, splits breeds that other registries and countries lump together, and vice versa.

The good news is that the real experts -- the people who actually work their dogs on a regular basis rather than merely parade them around at the end of a string leash, are not too often confused.

A genuine terrierman knows what a true terrier is, just as a running dog man knows what a true sighthound is. And as for the houndsman, he will tell you a good dog is never the wrong color, and the same can be said of those who herd sheep for a living, or depend on dogs to carry them over 200 miles of open arctic snow and ice.

But, of course, these people are in the minority today, aren't they?

Instead of people who engage in honest work with types of dogs, we now have show ring theoreticians who are obsessed with breeds of dogs.

For them, a dog is not what it does, it is whatever the piece of paper says, and that piece of paper is all wrapped up in a romantic history cocked up years ago by an all-breed book writer penning paragraphs about a dog he never owned and never worked.

As a result, we have complete and total nonsense in the world of canine taxonomy.

Take the issue of terriers, for example.

Despite what some folks would have you believe, a "terrier" is not a universal catch-phrase that can be properly tagged to any type of scruffy-looking or game-bred dog. It is a dog that goes to ground.

So then, is a dachshund a terrier? Yes! It is included in all books about working terriers. A true terrier is defined by the work it does, same as a true collie or a true bird dog is defined by the work it does.

A 60-Pound Terrier?

A 60-pound hound is not a terrier.

That would seem to be simple and obvious enough, but for some folks it is not. And so, in the topsy-turvy world of the early dog show world, a few odd-looking Otterhounds were once crossed with a working terrier and then called the "Bingley" or "Waterside" terrier, and then later renamed the "Airedale" terrier.

But can a dog that is almost entirely hound, and which weighs 60 pounds be called a true terrier? Only if you would call a transvestite a woman!

An Airedale is a hound in form, and it does a hound's work in the field when it is worked.  A houndsman knows it is a hound, for it is found in his kennels, and not that of the terrierman.

Airedales, in turn, were crossed with a herding breed (the Giant Schnauzer) and a molosser breed (the Rottweiler) and a few herding and guard dogs (Caucasian Ovcharkas and Eastern European Shepherds). The resulting cross was called a "Black Russian Terrier," despite the fact that there is no terrier in the breed at all.

Once again, you can call the dog whatever you want, but calling it so does not make it true. A Black Russian Terrier is not a terrier in any way, shape or form.

Going down the list, we have the Tibetan Terrier which is not a terrier (it is a spaniel), and we have the Schnauzer (it is a miniature version of its larger herding-dog relative), and we have the American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Pit Bull Terrier, which are molosser (guard dog) breeds.

And then, of course, we have the Bull Terrier which is neither true terrier nor true molosser. It is, instead, the most common type of dog on earth today: the dog dealer's dog. This is an animal cocked up for the pet trade, and for no other purpose than to trot around the ring and lie next to the chair.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with a dog being created solely for the purpose of being a pet. That is the work of most dogs, and it is the purpose to which most terrier breeds have devolved. But let's not kid ourselves that these dogs were ever bred for any other purpose, eh? A pet is an honorable enough occupation; let us not gild the lily with nonsense names, nonsense histories, or contrived work.

Once Fit for Function

The modern show ring German Shepherd can barely walk, much less leap over fences. In fact, the American German Shepherd stock is so unfit for function that the U.S. Secret Service will not have them!

Free Running Dogs with Control

This is really quite impressive!  Thanks to Richard Gilbert for the link!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kids and Dogs (and especially terriers)

Dogs and kids, Washington, D.C., 1923.  At least four Jack Russells are in this picture.  Click to view full size -- worth itSource.

Jack Russell and Mountain Bike

Lily the Jack Russell Terrier has no problem keeping up with owner Ross Downard at the Trailside Bike Park in Park City, Utah. A nice video, and a good way to drain the juice out of a Jack Russell!  Thanks to all that forwarded this one!

Yes, Vodka Dog, But Is It Properly Chilled?

This Ukrainian German Shorthaired Pointer gets Vodka pretty well, but he's no border terrier, even if he is better than a border collie!

To Be a Great Nation... Again

When this country was great, we taxed the rich.

We need to be great again.

The issue is not left or right, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.

And to underscore the point, let me point out that it was Democrats, not Republicans, that started this tax cut pandering.

As Catherine Rampell notes on The New York Times Economix blog.

[O]nce upon a time, Republicans did indeed advocate leaving taxes alone, opposing tax cuts.

In the 1950s and 1960s, federal deficits were relatively small compared to the size of the economy, but even during those flush years, Republican leadership was reluctant to advocate tax cuts. In 1953, for example, Dwight Eisenhower said the country “cannot afford to reduce taxes, reduce income, until we have in sight a program of expenditures that shows that the factors of income and of outgo will be balanced.”

And when his successor, John F. Kennedy, proposed sharp tax cuts in 1963, the more conservative Republicans in Congress initially opposed them because the cuts would expand the deficit.

So let's cut the crap, and salute basic math and history.

This country was great once, and it was not great when we kicked our poor in the shins, or denigrated the sick and the unemployed. 

This country was great when we taxed the rich and invested in infrastructure.

We know how to be great, because we have been great before.  Let's do that. Again.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Time to Scuttle the English Bulldog

This ship was a failure.  Let us not celebrate it.

If you are serious about crossing the Atlantic, you do not start by trying to raise the Titanic from the grave while a million fine ships a year are being burned at the wharf.

The New York Times asks Can the Bulldog Be Saved?

It is a silly question. 

Save the English Bulldog?

Save it from what?

Pretenders? Puppy peddlers?

A little late for that!  

Besides, the people who now say they want to "save" the English Bulldog are just more pretenders and puppy peddlers.  Who do they want to save the English Bulldog from? Why, from people who are just like themselves!

The English Bulldog is not a species created by God, but a Kennel Club creation designed to lay about the house and die young. 

In that sense, it is a perfect dog, combining the lazy owner's need for a dog that does not want to take a walk around the block, with the dog dealer's desire to sell a replacement product a few years down the line.  No wonder this is a top 10 breed in the AKC!

The selection for defect here is entirely intentional:  a flat face, narow hips, a massive head, short legs, a heavy body, deeply wrinked skin, and a pig tail.    The result is a dog that cannot breath well, cannot walk well, has a hard time having sex without a helping hand, and cannot give birth without surgical assistance.

And, of course, it is a dog that has had no work since the beginning.  The modern English Bulldog is about as closely related to stock and pit dogs as the tea cup Chihuahua is to the Artic Wolf.  Neither one could consumate a relationship with it's supposed ancestor!  The purpose of this dog is sale and vanity, and that is as true for today's slightly modified versions as it is for the old.

You want a REAL bulldog? A truly healthy and functional model? No problem. We kill almost a million of those dogs a year in this country, but if an American Pit Bull is put in the right hands (people with stable lives, real jobs, fenced yards, and a desire to excercise and teach the dog on a daily basis) they can become well-loved pets. 

Bottom Line:   The bulldog is wreckage and there is no saving it, nor should we even try.  If you are serious about crossing the Atlantic, you do not start by trying to raise the Titanic from the grave while a million fine boats a year are being burned at the wharf.  Only a fool tries to save a fantasy while reality is being killed at his feet.

Pearl in the Field

This picture was from a year or two back, but I found it while looking for something else. Pearl is retired now and living the life of luxury with my folks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

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,

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.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and John Wayne

This is from Rio Bravo, which came out in 1959. I have only seen it on TV, but it has this great segment with Dean Martin singing, Ricky Nelson playing, John Wayne listening, and Walter Brennan on harmonica. Beat that!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Support the 1st Amendment... and the 2nd


"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


Unless there is prosecution... in which case, it's simple assault.

Police pepper spray peaceful demonstrators with linked arms.

Parkour for Black Panther

This is parkour for captive puma.  This is parkour for working terrier.

Were-Terriers: Another Myth Busted

All those stories you have been told about were-terriers are a lieYes, science continues to take the fun out of life. Bastards.

Of course, it could be sampling bias. Just sayin'...


A Pennnsylvania Fox Trapper's Season

It's almost that time of year folks.   If you and your dogs are out in field and forest, please read these posts:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Where you stand depends on where you sit, but you would think a simple issue like the state of repair (or disrepair) of the bridge I cross twice a day would not be a bone of contention or a political football.

And yet, the "Occupy Wall Street" folks are crossing today, and so it is:
  • November 2, 2011
    Making the case once again for a federal infrastructure bank, President Obama spoke on Wednesday at Key Bridge, which spans between D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood and Arlington, Va. .... According to the Federal Highway Administration, the historic Key Bridge (named after the creator of "The Star-Spangled Banner") is in need of "crucial repairs" and "maintenance work."
  • November 17, 2011
    Protesters are saying they’ve chosen Key Bridge to protest “the deterioration of our public infrastructure and public services.” This morning, John Lisle, a spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, told the Dr. Gridlock blog this morning that the Key Bridge is no longer structurally deficient.

Two Things I Know. One is Coffee.

A four part commericial with part 3 featuring  DeNiro and Jack Russells.

Black and White and Loved All Over

June and Donald McCaig at work and play.

Donald McCaig sends me a very nice note about June, his border collie:

She's earned enough frequent flier miles for a free ticket anywhere in the continental United States; twice to California, Seattle, Texas and that long haul across the Atlantic: DIA/CDG before crossing the Channel by ferry.

She's swum in Puget Sound, Lake Ontario, San Fransisco Bay, the Gulf, Long Island Sound, the St Lawrence and Carmarthen Bay.

On the 8th floor of the National Geographic Building in Washington DC, she wore a stick-on visitor's badge. She's been my literary dog: bookstores, readings, TV, reporters.

She's worked Rambouilettes, Scottish Blackfaces, Suffolks, Kathaden's, St Croix, Dorsets, Tunis, Polypays, Welsh Mountain, Dorsets, Mules and Cheviot Sheep. She's run in three National Finals and the World Trial.

She's a favorite with kindergarden kids and grownups. She can charm a preoccupied teenager. She hates to have her nails trimmed and worries she'll be checked for ticks when you touch her ears.

When she was young, she didn't like getting in sheep's faces and discovered when she buzzed them, they moved -- a little trick she never forgot. She'll do a shed but never enjoyed it.

She had one litter. She was a good Mom. She got pyrometra and nearly died.

She likes hunting moles. She whimpers for help if she gets a burr in her paw.

She worked her first lambing at eighteen months. Her first trial, age two, was the Sonoma Wine Country. She's won open trials. Handler error often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

After her semi final run at Gettysburg, a Scot commented: "She's patient with them isn't she?" June never gripped off.

But this spring, at the big Dakota trials, June found her sheep but it was all she could do just to keep them on the course.

And at four in the morning, when I loaded up for a trial, young Fly was at the door; June stayed in her favorite chair. Traveling hasn't been much fun for June since her husband, Luke, retired.

June instructed me. She took me where I wouldn't have gone and opened doors I hadn't known existed.

Last Sunday, at Rural Hill North Carolina, June ran for the last time. From now on, when I load up the young dogs, June'll stay in her chair.

At Rural Hill, she found her sheep and brought them. She hit all the gates and got her shed and pen. It wasn't a winning run but June finished the job. 

Love, protection, sadness, respect. We give this and more to the dogs, because they have given us so much time and taught us so much, including more than a little about ourselves.

When we are old, we will not remember the names of most of the people we worked with at the office, but we will remember the names and personalities of every one of our dogs. 

Nice life JuneThat'll do.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fracking Explained


"I just want clean water, damn it."

Making Connections at the People Park

Before There Were Terriers

The title of this painting is "Fucking Groundhog Must Die."  The painting is about "man versus nature" but without Ishmael, the whale, or Bill Murray and his caddy shack.  As they note at the heyokamagazine web site:

On a symbolic level, the man represents civilization and the groundhog unruly nature. The impulse to assert control, to dominate nature, is a defining characteristic of humanity. Our cities and highways are orderly grids superimposed upon an indifferent earth. From time to time the fury of nature erupts and we are obligated to rebuild what has been destroyed, and the uneasy truce between civilization and nature is re-established. The same thing occurs in the garden, where the groundhog subverts the genteel order which the gardener has created. The groundhog has no respect for private property!

Meanwhile, the conflict between civilization and nature exists within the cave man. (This is what Nietzche and Camille Paglia are talking about). The insufferable crimes of the villainous groundhog have reduced the man to a wild state. One can see grim determination etched on his visage. Is he motivated by hunger, or revenge?

No, I do not make this stuff up!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Raccoon Coat

Some people are nuts. 

This woman duct-taped a bunch of food to her body in order to attract raccoons.  No, I am not making this up

Oh, and did I mention that raccoon carry rabies?  Yep.  There's a lot of that with raccoons.

Monday, November 14, 2011

70% Agree: It's Time to Eat the Rich

From the November NBC/WSJ Poll:  To underscore the deep and pervasive dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, and the economic system specifically, 76% of Americans agree with the following statement:

The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich.

This Is Your Home Planet

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Like termites we consume the planet.

This is a time lapse sequence of pictures taken with a low-light camera by the crew of the International Space Station from August to October, 2011.

Critters are Picky About Their Culverts

The Washington Post reports on a $312,000 Maryland study on the use of road culvert by wildlife -- one way to reduce unnecesary (and expensive) vehicle impacts:

A wide variety of wild animals use drainage culverts to cross beneath roads but some species are choosy about tunnel types, a University of Maryland study has found.

Raccoons will use any kind but deer avoid culverts with cobbled floors and eastern gray squirrels don’t seem to like arch-shaped passages, the study’s lead author, ecologist J. Edward Gates, said Friday. Great blue herons prefer box-shaped culverts with sandy bottoms, the study found....

Researchers documented 57 species using the conduits, including nesting barn swallows, feral cats and white-tailed deer — a species of particular concern because they cause dozens of deaths in collisions each year around the country.

Want to know more about wildlife and roads? There's a whole web site devoted to it -- check it out!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Railroad Bed Raccoon

The dogs and I hit one of the farms yesterday. It was a beautiful day on a beautiful farm, the dogs in fine fettle, and me with a pulled groin muscle, a pain in my hip, a lower back ache, and a rotator cuff injury. The latter did not trouble me much, but the groin, hip and lower back put a pretty serious hitch in my giddy up.

The dogs ran ahead to the left, and I bolted two big doe deer out of the creek bed. They made quite a racket, as they tried to exit on the other bank, which was about five feet high, and one of them had a pretty difficult time. It was like one of those scenes from National Geographic with the wildebeest making a high-bank river crossing, but without any crocodiles in the water underneath.

The dogs ran a bit far to a small bridge over the creek, and I called them back, but they were having none of it, and when I got up to them I could see why; they had cornered a feral black cat up a small tree, and Mountain was starting to climb the tree.

I grabbed both dogs while still holding the post hole digger and bar. With everything in my hands and a pack on my back I hustled them off the bridge and into the field where I leashed them up. All of this fast action did no favors to my groin or hip, but it was better than starting the day with a cat massacre.

I walked the dogs back the way we had come, and after it was clear they were interested in ground hunting again, I let them go.

They were still pretty amped up from the cat, and ran on ahead of me down the creek to an ox bow a few hundred yards ahead. I paid them no mind; they were likely to find in the ox bow (the ground there is littered with holes), and I would catch up to them. The dogs rarely go too far; no worries.

Long story short, when I got to the ox bow, the dogs were nowhere to be seen. I walked father but there was still no sign. This farm is pretty small, and cut down the middle by a creek that was now running pretty deep. Cattle grazed on the right, but if the dogs had gone up the graze field, I would have seen them. I walked the length of the farm four or five times calling the dogs and stopping to listen. Nothing.

I crossed the creek and thought I heard terriers barking on the other side of the field beyond the railroad tracks. The dogs had never left the farm before, but I humped over the field, over the tracks and into a small subdivision. It was indeed, terriers, but not mine. These were three dogs behind an expensive wrought iron fence. They seemed to be barking at the leaves in the wind.

I crossed back over the creek, and listened. Still nothing. Then I saw a big dog fox bolt out of the creek bed, turn around and look at me, and trot up the grazing field towards the cattle. Ha! That had to be where the dogs were, but when I got to that section of the creek, there was nothing.

For three and half hours I looked for those dog on that small farm and never found them. At around 2:30 the farmer and I took a tour on his John Deere Gator, but the noise of the machine did not get them to come out. Now I was sure they were not on the farm and that they were in a hole on a raccoon somewhere. Mountain will not come off a raccoon, and Gideon will stick to his game as well.

We toured the neighborhood around the farm in my truck, but nothing. I decided to walk the farm again for the fourth or fifth time, very slowly, stopping for long periods to listen. I saw a large groundhog stand up in the field across the creek, and I watched him for a few minutes. I walked farther up the creek, stopping to listen again. Over and over, up the farm. Then, faintly, I thought I heard both dogs very far away on the bitter end of the farm where the fences come together next to the railroad track. I ran up the creek bank, my hip and back both groaning in pain, my feet wet from crossing the creek several times while searching. I stopped and listened again. Yes that was the dogs. I was pretty sure it was not crows or geese.   Hard to tell sometimes, and especially with the wind.  I ran to the end of the creek pasture and climbed the first electric wire fence, and then the second electric wire fence, and then a short bit of barbed wire.

The dogs were in the ground under the railroad bed. They had been there for almost five hours now, with several 100-car trains rolling over the top of them.

Gideon was out of the ground when I arrived, but he was covered in black coal ash, and his eyes were pretty wrecked from the stuff.

I picked him up and walked back the length of the farm to the get the truck and tools. I would have to dig Mountain out.

At the truck, the farmer's boyfriend, Jim, offered to drive me and the tools up with the Gator, and we did that and Jim helped me dig too -- a great help.

Mountain sounded pretty deep. She had entered the railroad bed from the side through a very small slit under a downed tree trunk. There was a lot of downed timber along this edge, and I decided to cut in from the top, at least initially.

The railroad bed was a mixture of rip-rap granite cobbles backed with very fine coal dust and organic matter as fine as potting soil. It was pretty easy digging, but Jim had the brilliant idea to move some of the big timber on the side and simply carve out a trench, which we did. We were getting pretty close to the dog when Jim said "there she is" and I peered in and then saw a flash of white off to the side. It was Mountain sticking her nose out of a small hole. She had been underground for five and half hours, assuming she had been under the whole time (a good assumption with Mountain).

In short order, we had her out just as Hope, the farmer, came up in her truck. I left the trench open for the raccoon to escape, and we loaded the tools and Mountain into the Gator and went back to my truck where I did a preliminary wash out of both dog's eyes. An amazing amount of stuff came out, but I knew there was even more coal grit back in there behind the eyeball orbits. It would have to work its way forward to be washed out again when I got home.

Both dogs were exhausted, and I was pretty tired as well.

When I got home I washed the dogs and the coal dust came off pretty easily, except for a cigarette pack-sized patch on Mountain where it appears she rubbed against tar or creosote. Other than a slash across the top of Mountain's muzzle, and a small slice at the tip of Gideon's ear, both dogs were without injury. 

In the morning, both dogs needed more work done on them to get the remaining coal dust out of their eyes, and I washed their eyes out three more times times during the day and also loaded them up on Ceph as a preventive to eye infection. Right now, the dogs are pretty sore, and I am a little tuckered as well, but I think we will mend up in a day or two.   All's well that ends well.