Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Unselling" Dogs and Selling Commitment

A repost from December 2008.

This is a terrific ad from the Netherlands, and made me recall an earlier post from this blog entitled Overbreeding: Beware of Simple Answers:

If we agree that there is still a problem ... the next question is WHAT is the problem?

You would be surprised at how little thought has gone into that question.

You see, the problem is NOT puppies. Healthy puppies are readily sold or adopted from pounds. There is always a line of people eager for a puppy.

The problem is DOGS. While puppies are small and cute, a dog is a loud, expensive, demanding, barking, defecating, and life-restricting ball-and-chain.

It turns out that a lot of people that want a cute puppy are not so enamored with the realities of adult dog ownership. In a world of throw-away marriages, jobs, cars, communities and houses, dogs have been tossed on to the pile....

...If we are really interested in reducing the number of dogs put up for adoption, we need to spend some time on the "unselling" of dogs in general, and purebred dogs in particular.

When we talk about dogs to people that do not have dogs, we need to talk about the fact that dogs are expensive, time-consuming, and smelly.

We need to acknowledge that they will occasionally pee on a carpet or wake us up at 5 in the morning. Dogs not only bark, they howl, they scratch at doors, they eat cell phones, and they will quickly reduce the resale value of your car. Not to mention that landlords hate them.

If people want to get a dog, fine, but there should be no surprises about the numerous liabilities involved, and that those liabilities can easily last for 15 years.
Link to the complete post. .

Clash of Opinions is Actually a Clash of Knowledge

In Heartsblood: Hunting, Spirituality and Wildness in America, David Peterson notes that back in 1978 Yale University behavioral scientist Stephen Kellert authored a paper entitled "Attitudes and Characteristics of Hunters and Antihunters" in which he summarized his research into the psychology and world-view of these two opposing groups of people.

Kellert breaks hunters down into three core groups:

Utilitarian-meat hunters;
Domination-sport hunters, and;
Naturalist-nature hunters.

Kellert notes that while the groups blur a little at the edges, these three psycho-demographic groups do exist, and represent striking differences of attitude within America's hunting population.

Utilitarian-meat hunters represent about 44 percent of all American hunters. This group tends to talk of "harvesting" game as a renewable resource and many have a "pioneer spirit" forged in self-sufficiency. As a group utilitarian-meat hunters tend to be older, more rural and less educated, but test pretty well when it came to knowledge about wildlife. Few Americans oppose them.

The second group, the domination-hunter, comprise about 38 percent of all hunters. Most domination-hunters are urban men, have served in the military, and see hunting as a way of expressing their manly prowess. Domination hunters know very little about wildlife, and many actually fear it, having an exaggerated "dangerous game" mindset of the kind we often see in pulp hunting magazines ("Mauled by a Grizzly," "When Sharks Attack", "Stalked by a Killer Moose"). Domination hunters showed little interest in wildlife in their youth, and as adults tend to see wild animals as uncontrolled and therefore as "bad" or nuisance animals. The domination hunter is the group non-hunters dislike, and which antihunters try to use to negatively portray ALL hunters.

The third group of hunters -- naturalist hunters -- represent less than 18 percent of all hunters. This group tends to be younger, more educated, and with higher levels of education and income than the other groups. This category also includes more women hunters. Nature hunters tend to backpack, bird watch and camp, as well as hunt. This group also spends more time actually hunting than either of the other two previous groups. Nature hunters have far and away the highest level of knowledge about wildlife and seek an intense involvement with wildlife and do not fear it.

Kellert also goes on to analyze antihunters as a group and finds, not surprisingly, that about 80 percent are women. Most are urban women living on one coast or another.

Antis had very little actual experience with wildlife and, along with domination hunters, had "among the lowest knowledge-of-animals scores of any group included in the study."
In another ironic parallel with domination hunters, "it appeared that antihunters manifested more fear and lack of interest in wildlife" than average Americans.

What was striking to me about reading Kellert's research was how it explains much of the silliness and stupidity we see in the arena of wildlife management today, where antihunters who have never walked a hedgerow clash all with macho-men domination-hunters who would never consider going into the woods without a Bowie Knife as large as medieval falchion.

Neither group seems to have very much knowledge about wildlife. One group does not hunt at all, and the other does not seem to hunt very much.

Left out of the debate -- and too often ignoring it -- are utilitarian-meat hunters and nature-naturalistic hunters which form a majority of the people who actually spend any time in forest or field.

The good news is that in America, unlike in much of Europe, wildlife management decisions tend to be left to an increasingly well-educated groups of professional wildlife managers with degrees in biology, zoology, resource management, forestry, population dynamics, law enforcement and even economics. The watchword in the U.S. is not knee-jerk emotionalism, but sustainability and habitat protection. As a consequence, we have more deer, elk, moose, bear, wolf, fox, alligator, whales, peregrine falcons, bald eagle, osprey, groundhog, raccoon, possum, coyote, bison, beaver and mountain lion today than we have ever had in the last 100 years, and the numbers for all of these species is going up, up, up.

Bear With No Hair = Horror Movie Star

I Hate Donald McCaig

I hate Donald McCaig because I got two pages into this book before 6 am, and already my day is ruined.

I will never write this good, be this wise, or be this funny.

And get this -- the damn book is already for sale, and it's not even officially out yet.

And it just gets worse.  You see, my employer expects me to work a full day, but that's not likely with this book already opened. 

So for the next eight hours I have to fake it, knocking out a phone call every dozen pages, and going to the bathroom a lot, with the book tucked up under my arm.

FML.  I do not like having to hide my addictions.


A Failure to Communicate


Den Repair

The entrance to this pipe has been carved away a little bit.

A few arm-thick branches and some dirt, and all is well again.

I try not to mess with entrances to settes, in part because I try to preserve settes and I think front doors are important. Another reason is that it is too easy to collapse the entrance to a sette which means you have cut off air to the dog.

In the sette, above, however, the dog could just barely get in before having to turn hard to come up a side pipe in pursuit of the quarry. In order to get a better handle on the direction this side pipe took, I decided to open it up a bit.

After figuring out the direction of the pipe, and accounting for the groundhog, I repaired the hole I had dug into the middle of the pipe as well as the den entrance itself.

Will a groundhog come back here? Perhaps. Perhaps not. What is undeniable, however, is that this den is still available to a wandering possum, raccoon, or fox.

In truth, there's no shortage of holes in the woods, but only groundhogs dig them routinely; and possums and coons never dig them. Fox only dig them (or more likely, expand them a little) in winter. Considering how much work a groundhog den actually represents (800 pounds of dirt is moved on average) by a pretty small animals, it seems to me that preservation of hedgerow settes is simply respect -- and common sense if you hope to hunt frequently on the farm in question.

Do I always do a good job of repairing a sette? Truthfully, no. That said, I am getting better at it. In old age, I find I am in less of a rush to get to the next hole. When the temperature climbs past 85 degrees in summer, I suddenly remember that there is more to life than increasing its speed!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Cuckoo In the House of James Bond's "M"

Helen MacDonald has a terrific piece up over at Aeon magazine entitled "Nest of Spies," in which she deconstructs and illuminates the life of MI-5 spymaster Maxwell Knight, who served as the model for "M" of James Bond fame.

James Bond, of course, was named after the author of Birds of the West Indies, first published in 1936 -- a book that happened to be on Ian Fleming's desk back in 1953 when he began to write Casino Royale in 1953 while staying at Golden Eye, his villa in Jamaica. 

The character of Bond, it should be said, was modeled after the playboy-gambler-spy Dusan Popov whom Fleming had seen gamble in Portugal, placing a massive bet in order to get a rival to withdraw from the baccarat table -- the very set-up used as a plot device in Casino Royale.

In any case, it seems that "M" -- Maxwell Knight -- was not only an observer and tamer of men for the spy game, but also a skilled naturalist who lived in a house crowded with crows, parrots, foxes and finches, and that he had a particularly interesting relationship with a tame cuckoo.  Read the whole thing.

One of the points that jumped out at me was when MacDonald writes that "during the war, British wildlife had become firmly embedded in myths of national identity" and that in Britain and in other countries "[n]ational and natural histories blurred."

National and natural identities were blurring not only in British hedgerows during this period of time, but in German ones as well.

German zoologists Lutz and Heinz Heck got wrapped up with the Nazis and their dream-scape of mythical Nordic animals of forest and field, and the two brothers worked to recreate the Auroch and the Tarpan by "back breeding" primitive-looking cattle and horses in order to recreate these fabled animals.

Dogs too were not immune from this drive to create national identity. 

One of the first dogs pulled into the frame was the German Shepherd -- a dog bought and named in one day, with a standard knocked out in short order based on a sample size of one, and whose principle purpose seems to have been to have the word "German" affixed to an "uber hund" which would be a paragon of athleticism and obedience.  Hitler would own one, and perhaps not coincidentally, his dog would be named "Blondi".

The Jadg Terrier followed -- a dog created by die-hard Nazis in a purpose-created breeding camp for the express purpose of creating an uber-terrier for the Fatherland -- something every bit as good, if not better, than anything the British had. The foundation dogs here were supplied by Lutz Heck -- the same Lutz Heck who was busy back-breeding mythical Nordic creatures for a thousand-year reich.

After the war, of course, nationalist trends continued as broken countries and people tried to cobble up and associate themselves with imagined or contrived greatness.

Various kinds of water dogs, gun dogs, and lap dogs, without much distinction or true history,  were suddenly deemed to be ancient breeds and symbols of place.

A Czech dog fancier created the Cesky terrier, for example, which was nothing more than a simple cross breed of two British dogs, while the Swiss-Italian fantasist Piero Scanziani created the Neopolitan Mastiff overnight from a dog he did not breed and based on sample size of one. 

And so it goes to this day. 

I have had some fun mocking these kind of just-invented canine histories associated with regional identities, creating the Kill Devil Terrier, the White-toed Minnesota Chipmunk Dog, the Shenandoah Mountain Cur and, just this week, the Genesee Valley Beaver Dog.

At the top of this week's post on the Genesee Valley Beaver Dog, I put up an absurd picture of "Grey Owl" a fake "Indian" who was actually born in England as Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, but who passed himself off as an indigenous native of Canada for more than 20 years. 

Surely this is the kind of "cuckoo" that Maxwell Knight would have loved!  And of course, Grey Owl was not alone as a native fake, was he?  Remember Iron Eyes Cody, the crying Indian in the "Keep America Beautiful" campaign?  He was a pure-blood Sicilian born in Louisiana! Which is not to say that he did not do good work for native people and causes -- a feature he shared with Grey Owl who preceded him by at least a generation. But were these men cuckoos?  Oh yes, in every sense of that word!

Archibald Stansfeld Belaney as a boy.

The Bigotry of Low Expectations


Winter Fun with Old Boots


The Placebo Effect on Pooches?

It seems there might be a placebo effect at work when dogs get medicines. 

Or at least that's the conclusion of a very small sample study of dogs with epilepsy, 79% of which "demonstrated a decrease in seizure frequency" when they got noting more than a sugar pill.

Count me skeptical.  That said, the fact that drugs are still be tested against placebos at all is a national disgrace. 

If a drug company reports its drugs being positively seat-raced against a placebo, then the label for said drug should read, in capital letters with a black box warning: 

"Better than nothing, provided you discount the outrageous cost you are paying for this nonsense, the liver and nerve damage we have not reported, and the greasy stools that result when you take this product."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Would J.C. Do?

Johnny Cash seems to have actually read the Gospels.  Imagine!

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

I wear the black for those who never read,
Or listened to the words that Jesus said,
About the road to happiness through love and charity,
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to you and me.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old,
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold,
I wear the black in mournin' for the lives that could have been,
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men.

Herd Guarding Dogs

Livestock Guardian Dogs::Conservation Media::Vimeo.

This is a nice video about livestock guarding dogs which is the way forward for public lands ranchers who make private profits from our public lands.

If public lands ranchers on National Forest and BLM lands continue to press for wanton wolf and coyote shooting on those lands in order to protect their already heavily-subsidized flocks (non-market based grazing fees do not begin to cover land destruction and administrative costs), then the pressure will increase to simply end all public lands ranching or else to dramatically increase the cost

There is a middle way forward with dogs, and there is no way forward without them.

Happy Birthday, Johnny Cash!

February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003

An American Original.

Maybe We Should Try Suppositories?

Monday, February 25, 2013

C. Everett Koop, Dead at Age 96

C. Everett Koop was the real deal. Back in the early 1990s, when I was on the board of an adoption agency, we were presented with a conundrum: Siamese Twins (aka conjoined twins) in Thailand which, if they were not separated, were doomed to die. The issue was brought to me first, and I confess that I was a tower of "yeah buts..." but William L. Pierce of the National Council for Adoption was not. He called up C. Everett Koop, who said Children's Hospital of Philadelphia could separate the twins, but it would take more than half a million dollars. The issue came back to me. I said a half million dollars was as impossible as $50 million. William Pierce went back to C. Everett Koop, and Koop swung the iron and "boom" -- he got Children's Hospital to shoulder all but the post-operative costs. Could I help raise the money for that? That I could do, and we did (with a lot of help from a lot of very good people), and those two kids now live in the U.S. (adopted), and last I looked they each had more than 250 Facebook friends. I am not sure anyone else knows this C. Everett Koop story, but it's not one I will ever forget. Thanks Doc. You were a light. A true light.

His Master's Voice?

The story of Nipper began in 1884 when a small stray terrier was found on the streets of Bristol, England. Adopted by Mark Barraud and named "Nipper" for his habit of biting at people's ankles, he became a devoted pet and companion to the theatre and stage set designer.

Mark Barraud died in 1887 and his little dog went to live with his brother, Francis Barraud. Francis Barraud inherited a cylinder phonograph from brother Mark, and he noticed that when it was played Nipper cocked his head and seemed to listen to it -- as some dogs are wont to do with any strange sound.

Nipper died in September of 1895.

In 1899, four years after Nipper's death, Barraud was casting about for a subject to paint and remembered the little dog listening to the cylinder player. He decided it would make a good subject for a painting, and used the photograph, at right, as inspiration.

Barraud hoped to sell his painting of Nipper as a magazine illustration, but could find no buyers. He then decided it might find a market as an advertising vehicle.

Barraud first went to the Edison Bell Company, the maker of the cylinder player, but they turned him down. He then painted over the Edison cylinder machine and put in its place a Gramophone machine which played a disk record and had a brass, rather than black, horn. William Barry Owen of the Gramaphone Company offered to buy the picture, and "His Master's Voice" was born.

The Gramophone company was owned by Berliner, which patented Barraud's image of Nipper (patent papers pictured at right). Berliner was sued by the Victor Talking Machine Company shortly thereafter and, as a consequence of the lawsuit, Berliner was forced out of business in the U.S. and Victor acquired the painting of Nipper as part of its settlement. In the late 1920s, Victor was purchased by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and they adopted the Nipper painting as their own trademark.

Somewhere along the line "the coffin story" was added to spice up the true story of how this painting came into being. The coffin story in entirely fiction, but a good tale nonetheless. According to the story, the dog was painted sitting on the coffin of Barraud's brother as the dog was listening to his deceased "master's voice" on the phonograph. A great tale, but pure marketing malarkey.

In 1949 the Gramophone Company decided to honour Nipper and erected a plaque above his grave under a mulberry tree in Eden Street, Kingston-on-Thames, England.

Francis Barraud died in 1924 at the age of sixty-eight, having made a good living painting copies of his now-famous painting. At least 24 "Barraud originals" still exist.


Fox at the National Portrait Gallery

Surveillance cameras observe a fox exploring the Tudor and Georgian rooms of London's National Portrait Gallery at night. Apparently, the fox was released inside the gallery on purpose, in order to create more "art".

A fox was at the U.S. Supreme Court some years back, but not on purpose, and when it was pursued after the fact it could not be found with a border terrier.

Did Pavlov Hate Terriers... Or Love Them?

Pavlov's dogs do not seem to have included any terriers -- mostly spaniel types, by the look of it

Is not keeping dogs in cages a sign of hate or love? 

Or could it be that terriers are simply immune to Pavlov's little tricks with the bell?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Genesee Valley Beaver Dog

Long before Columbus first stepped on shore, there were dogs in America -- millions of them.  In fact. prior to the arrival of the horse, the largest pack animal in North America was the dog, and it was employed to haul travois with hide, meat, tents, and cooking utensils from one camp site to another, as well as to guard camps from large predators (wolves and mountain lions) and to alert if people approached.

Contrary to popular story, dogs were not used much for hunting as their presence was far more likely to spook game before it came within arrow shot than to find it. And, of course, that is still true today; an archer that went into the woods to deer hunt with a dog by his side would be considered a fool.  Deer are taken with stealth over game trails, and that was as true 500 years ago, as it is today.

And yet, there are a few exceptions to the generalized rule that dogs were not used for hunting, but for guarding, hauling, companionship, and (yes) even food.  In areas where there were buffalo jumps (i.e. cliffs where buffalo could be stampeded off to their death), dogs were employed to spook herds forward.  And, of course, in the very Northern part of the U.S. where winter ice and robust beaver colonies were common, a particular type of smaller Indian hunting dog could commonly be found.

This dog was smaller, longer in body, and shorter in leg than the larger, more traditional wolf-like Indian dogs seen in the West, and was used to slid into beaver dams in winter to help drive the beaver out and onto the surface where they could be speared. 

This work was always done in winter because it made access to beaver dams easy, while the solid ice over the water prevented the beaver from being able to flee under water. In addition, beaver is an animal loaded with fat, which spoils quickly in summer, but keeps easily in cold weather when the added calories are most needed.

Shown, above, is an Indian Beaver Dog captured on film in the 1920s somewhere in Maine

Below is another Indian Beaver Dog captured on film, at about the same period of time, by the late great photographer George Eastman, who later went on to found the Eastman Kodak company, based in Rochester, New York. This dog, photographed in the Genesee Valley, is very similar to dogs which can still be found in the area among the Seneca people.

For example, the picture below is of a dog named "Froth" once owned by Mildred Kondolf, whose great grandfather, Mathius Kondolf, was manager at Reisky & Spies, the brewing company which, after the end of Prohibition, became the Genesee Brewing Company

Froth was four generations removed from "Sachem," a dog purchased by Mathius Kondolf from a Seneca tribal elder around 1900. Around Sachem's neck in the picture below is the good luck amulet the dog was wearing the day Kondolf purchased him. Inside were said to be two beaver penis bones and a small blue rock. The contents of the amulet were to show worshipful respect for the beaver, the penis bones a hope for prolificness, the blue stone a hope for clean water and hard ice.

Today, Genesee Valley Beaver Dogs are still used to help source commercial materials for the perfume trade, both beaver castoreum and, oddly enough, the whale ambergris sometimes found floated up along the beaches of the Eastern North Atlantic.

Pictured below is "Charlie," a modern Genesee Valley Beaver Dog owned by Tyler Muto. 

Charlie is retired from the perfume trade (the perfume "Charlie" is named after him) and he now works at Buffalo's K-9 Connection dog training facility, where he casts a gimlit eye over all.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Probable Cause on a Leash?

David Drumm, a guest blogger over at Jonathan Turley's law blog has a good post up on the contrived and fraudulent use of police dogs to create probable cause to search vehicles, people and property.

Though the Supreme Court recently issued a unanimous (9-0) decision in Florida v. Harris (2013) that deals with probable cause and drug detection dogs, that court decision only affects cases where the lawyer does not challenge the competency of the dog.  Here's a hint if you are busted: always challenge the competency of the dog.

This is not to say that the dogs are not good at what they do, but simply to say that what they do is not just smell, but also take direction (intentional or not) from handlers, and in more cases than you would imagine the dog is used as an instrument of a police frame.  Oh, you did not know that police lie all the time, and that they rather routinely frame suspects, plant evidence, take kickbacks, manifest overt racism and sexism, drink too much, and also sometime beat their wives?  Guess what?  They are human, and they do all that and more every day.  Lying, in fact, is a core part of police culture os far as it relates to getting an arrest.

So what does this have to do with police and other tracker and scent dogs?  Quite a lot.  You see,

An investigation of three years of data by the Chicago Tribune found that: “only 44 percent of those alerts by the dogs led to the discovery of drugs or paraphernalia.” When considering Hispanic drivers, the success rate fell to 27 percent. Justice Kagan, writing the opinion of the Court, noted that in such cases, “the dog may have smelled the residual odor of drugs previously in the vehicle or on the driver’s person.” Such an hypothetical claim is a little too convenient and should raise suspicions about its validity. According to J. Kagan, a dog’s alert “establishes a fair probability—all that is required for probable cause—that either drugs or evidence of a drug crime … will be found.”

Bottom line:  Any search based on a dog's "alert" should be challenged, and the dog's handler asked to produce documentation from a competent third party evaluator that the dog has actually passed a true double-blind test. Many police dogs have not.  And if more police dogs can, then how will that harm the cause of justice or the plight of dogs and dog trainers?

A Spot of Mange

Pregnant vixen with mange.
Gideon just came down with what I believe is a spot of mange caught from one of the local fox, probably the pregnant vixen seen above, and which was been seen in the neighbor's yard in broad daylight last week.  In any case, Gideon rubbed himself raw in a single morning and afternoon while I was at work.

Step one in Gideon's treatment was to wash him with pyrethrin-based shampoo, and then to treat the mange patch with a straight dose of a 0.05% dilute solution of Ivermectin worked well into the coat and edges of the bald patch, and then left on.

Step two was to give him an internal dose of Ivermectin (the same dose as for heartworm) and to chase that with an antibiotic (Fish Flex cephalexin) to make sure his skin did not get infected. 

To knock down the itch, I also dosed Gideon with a single 25 mg. dose of benadryl every 12 hours (sold as a "Nighttime Sleep Aid" mini-caplet at Walgreens).

I repeated these steps every day for four days until good pink skin appeared.  Gideon still has hair loss at the site, but that will grow back over the course of the next two weeks.  

Mountain has been washed every day as well -- no symptoms on her, but precaution is always the best medicine.  With all the dens that the dogs are in and out of, and all the mangy fox running through the yard (and your yard too, no doubt!) this is the first possible spot of mange any of my dogs has have ever had. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Peanut Butter, Parsley, Dog Food and Salmonella

The emails come in as predictable as swallows to Capistrano and buzzards to Hinkley, Ohio:

Right.  Salmonella.  One of the most common health problems and the bain of low-life restaurants everywhere.  In this morning's Washington Post, a headline:  Feds indict 4 over 2009 salmonella outbreak linked to Georgia peanut plant.
Which brings me back to dogs and dog food. 
Remember my earlier post about Honest Kitchen?   They are the the second company named in the FDA press release dump last night -- right after a "lick and stick" dog food maker called Kasel Associates, and just before the Kaytee bird seed company, which ALSO says that its parsley was tainted with Salmonella (the same claim as Honest Kitchen). 
Hmmmm.  Same supplier for a bird seed company as for the dog food company?  Right.  So the "sources" for Honest Kitchen's food stock might not be quite as special as we are led to believe. 
Which is not to say Honest Kitchen is bad dog food. 
It is to say, however, that they have NO idea what they are putting into their dog food because they have sourced the ingredients from dozens of suppliers on five continents and make it in a "secret" factory in Illinois several time zones away from where Honest Kitchen is actually headquartered. 
Read my longer analysis of Honest Kitchen's marketing machinations and ask yourself if this "lick and stick" dog food maker is doing anything appreciably better or more honestly than Kasel Associates Industries, which is the no-name contract dog food maker named in the first FDA press release this morning. 
How are they set up any differently from Menu Foods or Diamond? 
That said, salmonella will always be with us so long as we serve food. 
And yet, rather predictably, the companies that have managed to wrap their hands around the Salmonella problem the best are those companies that make their own foods rather than contract out, those that have long-term domestic suppliers, those that have massive brands that have been in business for decades, those which fully fire-cook their foods, and those which are not secretive about where their foods are actually made.  On every one of these points, Honest Kitchen falls down.  Did we learn nothing from the Menu and Diamond dog food fiascoes? 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hunting the Foreigners

Greg Mousely minking, June 2003

The latest news from Scientific American is that non-native wildlife in Europe wreaks $16 billion a year in damage.

Not said:  Foreign fauna provides considerable sport in the UK and across Europe.

Among the introductions to the U.K.:
  • The Brown or Norwegian Rat, which arrived around 1720.
  • The Grey Squirrel which arrived around 1870.
  • The Sika Deer which arrived around 1870.
  • The Chinese Muntjac Deer which arrived around 1940.
  • The Mink, which was released around 1950.
  • The Rabbit which was introduced by the Romans (or perhaps the Normans) around 1000.
  • Fallow Deer which were introduced by the Normans around 1200.
  • The Muskrat which was introduced around 1927.
  • The Red-necked Wallaby which was introduced around 1940 (and is uncommon)
  • The Coypu or Nutria, which was introduced around 1944 and wiped out by 1988.

In the U.S., most of the animals we commonly hunt and fish are native, with the exception of pheasants, some species of grouse, brown trout, and (of course) almost all the red fox.

The brown or "Norwegian" rat provides terrier sport for some folks, as does the nutria in areas where better quarry is scarce on the ground.

The raccoon can be thought of as a recently introduced species west of Ohio, and north of the Southern Great Lakes.

Many of our most common urban birds are foreign, including starlings, english sparrows, and the common pigeon (aka the Rock Dove).

Our hedgerow are choked with foreign invasive plant species, such as honeysuckle, kudzu and, of course, multiflora rose. This last plant was widely planted after the Great Depression in order to slow erosion in the South, but it also naturalized from abandoned gardens (multiflora rose is the root stock that most of our ornamental roses are grafted on to).

The dandelion is an immigrant ("dent de lion" means "teeth of the lion" and refers to the serrated edges of the leaves) as is Tumble Weed (aka Russian thistle) and, of course, the wild horse and mule.

Our forests, of course, have been decimated by invasive species from the chestnut blight which wiped out our most magnificent Eastern timber and mast-food tree, to dogwood blight which is now doing the same to our most beautiful native flowering tree.

The gypsy moth was introduced to this country by a Frenchman trying to start a silkworm industry, while the newly introduced ash borer beetle may decimate one of our very best sources of clear hardwood.

All in all, relatively few introduced mammals have "made it" in America, as compared to the U.K., and many of the plants, bugs, birds and pestilents that have made it over here have had an entirely negative impact.

9000 Days Left to Live

I was scanning the right side of the blog, thinking about pruning out the many dead links to bloggers and kennels that have disappeared, and came across my "life counter" which is a reverse-counting clock, based on life tables, that reminds me that this life of mine is but a temp job and I should get on with it and get some stuff done. 

According to the clock, I can reasonably expect to live only 9000 more days, as of today.

Pill Popping for Puppies

This is how I give pills to the dogs.  Soft bread works too.  My mother, for some reason, uses peanut butter. Of all the ways to give a pill to a dog, however, the hands-on easiest, I have found, is with a hot dog slice. After cutting off a short pill-length section, I poke a few cross-hatch slits in the end with the knife, push in the pill, and the dogs practically mug me, they are so eager to get their  nice fatty medicine.

Sheep Being Cruel and Unusual

Back in 2008, I put up a post on this blog entitled Fox From a Shepherd's Point of View in which I noted that fox had almost no impact on sheep and goat populations, while feral and loose dogs of all kind were major stock destroyers.

Back in 2005, citing the research of fox biologist David MacDonald, I noted that foxes do almost no damage to sheep populations.

After spending countless hours observing fox in sheep country, often at night and through infra-red goggles, MacDonald concludes that fox are not very fond of mutton and that they do very little predation on live lambs. Given almost any kind of alternative food source -- rabbits, bird seed, worms, baby birds, fruit or roadkill -- a fox will give sheep a pass. When fox do eat sheep, they tend to focus on already-dead detritus -- sheep testicles that drop off into the field after castrating bands are applied (MacDonald notes that he often finds fox feces containing these same undigested rubber bands), after birth, and even sheep dung from young lambs -- the latter loaded with still-undigested milk products. MacDonald does not deny that fox may kill a few very young (and perhaps already fatally weak) sheep, but such attacks are so rare they have never been filmed and are statistically negligible. MacDonald notes that in the fell and upland regions, where fear of fox predation is highest, sheep mortality is often 25% with many lambs born starving due to over-grazing abetted by a government policy that subsidizes overly-dense sheep production. With ewes in poor feed, and lambs borne wet on cold and windy slopes without shelter, lamb mortality is very high without any fox participation at all. The fact that fox, on occasion, scavenge the already-dead does little harm to the living.

And why do fox do so little damage to sheep?  Well, there is the matter of size!  A fox weighs about 15 pounds, while an adult sheep can tip the scales well north of 120 pounds and a charging ram has no problem tipping my 200-pound self straight over on my ass!

And what about the fox?  See below!


For those who want to see a fox hunting in a Scottish sheep pature, look at the horors of this!

A Blonde Swims With a Great White

What could go wrong?  Nothing!

A Note from Someone Past 50

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Over Achieving Border Collie

The Trainers blog is here.  It's in Polish.

Everyone's a Literary Critic!

You've got to lift you leg pretty high when you go out with the big dogs!

Artist Richard Jackson installed a 28-foot-tall Labrador Retriever on the side of the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California.  The dog periodically emits yellow paint upon the building's wall.  This counts for public art in America.

The scupture is crafted from fiberglass and other composite materials and will be up until May 5th.

Craig's List Patterdales

It has come to this.  These dogs are in Cinncinnati, Ohio

Let folks know.  And for God sake, people, stop breeding dogs that you cannot place with your immediate friends!

Coffee and Provocation

Never Underestimate the Stupids of Pet Owners
They are now making, and apparently selling, "dog peanut butter" which is more expensive than normal peanut butter, even though dogs will readily lick their own butts and eat garbage and poop.

Best Witness Statement from a Dog
The best witness statement from a dog also comes with a cool picture.  I want a hat like that!

An Interesting Bit of Demographics
As a demographer, I read some pretty obscure but fascinating stuff on population.  For example, the recent study of 10,000 porn stars with details on their hair color, gender, height, weight, and length of career is pretty interesting, especially when you realize that online and amateur porn is available for free (I am told) and is killing the paid porn industry. This is a snapshot of a soon-to-be dead economy.

Dams are a Perversion that Leads to Shooting Sea Lions
Damns are a form of environmental perversion that leads to vast backups of migrating fish at "ladders" designed to take the fish around the dam.  Sea Lions, being very smart and large top end predators that are essentially lazy, have learned that such sites are easy pickings and so they camp at the base of some dams in large numbers, killing vast numbers of migrating salmon.  In order to end the death run for the salmon, the National Marine Fisheries Service plans to kill California sea lions at Bonneville Dam in Oregon.  Those killing were challenged by the Humane Society of the U.S., which has done and said nothing about Salmon and dams (or forest or land conservation, I should add).  Now a U.S. District Court judge in Oregon has dismissed the HSUS lawsuit.

Killer Drones are Coming
Also traffic drones, peeping tom drones, wildlife monitoring drones, and zoning enforcement drones,  Get a shotgun and a .22 long now, as nothing is going to be more fun than plinking drones.  Am I right, or am I right?   And watch this disturbing video about the micro-drones now being developed and flown inside an aviary at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.  And, of course, drone piloting is the next hot field.

Scientists Take the Piss for Climate
It tuns out that dried out that because African Rock Hyrax form communities live in the same rock fissures for very long periods of time, and use the same place to pee every day, that studying their layers of urine can tell people a bit about climate change

Imagine Explaining This to Your Insurance Agent
Seriously, just imagine it.  If there was not video, they would never believe.

This is What Real Information on Wolves Looks Like
This is good stuff and an antidote to the nonsense on both sides.  Of course, the real solution is to stop subsidizing private profits made from public lands -- get sheep and cattle out of the forest and off BLM land entirely, or at least make private-profit grazers pay fair market rents (which are 3 to 5 times higher than they are now).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Marijuana Smokers Are Under-Achievers

The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th year in a row, but STILL not a single overdose from smoking reefer. What is WRONG with you reefer smokers? 
Of the 38,329 drug overdoses last year, three out of four were from the LEGAL drugs OxyContin and Vicodin.  None was from marijuana. 
Come on reefer smokers. I KNOW you can do better. Your stuff is illegal and you STILL can't kill yourself with it?  What the hell? 

And compared to alcohol or even cough medicine, you are doing a piss poor job at assault too.  Pick it up.
As for coffee drinkers -- you people are simply pathetic. I am ashamed of you.  Go home.

Taking Personal and Canine Inventory

Not all dogs are the same. 

Some breeds almost never bark, some were bred to bark. 

Some breeds are coded for herding, others for following scent, some for retrieving, others for finding birds. 

Some breeds are designed for speed, others to plod along. 

Some breeds are designed to act aggressively and to think independently, others for phlegmatic bidability.

Not every dog has a strong code within, but many working breeds do, and it's for that reason that pet owners should think twice before picking a breed out of an all-breed book. 

Selecting a dog is not the same as picking a living room color or a car model from a catalogue! 

Failure to fully understand this simple fact too often results in misery for owners and dogs alike!

Still thinking about getting a dog? 

Great, but before you do so, read my ten simple tips for selecting a happier and healthier canine companion and my ten tips about the canine marketplace

Then ask yourself who you really are, and how much daily exercise you are really prepared to give a dog.  How much noise can you can really stand?  Are you going to be OK with a puppy that pees on your carpets for two or three months, or that chews up your house shoes?  

Go slow and think it through.  You have a duty to the dog and that duty starts weeks and months before that dog is acquired. 

And remember this:  a dog is really not cut out for the modern life of long work hours away from home, and a world with increasingly unstable job markets, marriages, and housing situations. 

It's OK not to get a dog, and it's perfectly fine to get a large, lazy dog-like cat instead.

Thinking 101


Monday, February 18, 2013

A Perfect Little Market for an Artist

Get your custom pet sign from Nepal at >> 

I am thinking an American artist could knock these out for less -- with warnings in Arabic, English, Nepalese, French, Spanish, etc. using Google Translate.  A perfect little "Etsy" business made in America for the Xenophilic.

Midway Island: Miracles and Tragedy

Let's start with the good news, which is that a  62-year-old Laysan Albatross given the name "Wisdom" has hatched her 35th chick on Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific, making her the oldest successful avian mother in recorded history.

Now the bad news:  albatross like Wisdom are routinely dying prematurely due to hooks used by long-line fisherman and from plastic and other floating detritus eaten by the birds,.  Watch the video, below, showing Mother Nature's post-mortem.  This is what plastic in the ocean does.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Little Foxes

No harm done to this little fellow, who was rolled back into the den some years back. An old picture. I cannot remember who was with me this day, but clearly someone was holding the camera.


Hunting Terrier


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Safeway Seems So Pale After H-Mart

I took a quick run to H-Mart, one of our local Korean grocery stores, for four tupperware bins of dried tomatoes.  This is one of my favorite stores for the massive produce section, the great quality, the low prices and (oddly enough) the great musical soundtrack which is optimistic rock tunes (think "Sunshine Superman") from the late 60s and early 1970s.

Yellow Squash

Daikon Radish

Aloe Cactus leaves and Prickly Pear Cactus leaves

Green Pepper and Holland Peppers

Vietnamese Green Pepper

Red Hot Peppers

Snow Peas and Pomelos

Bitter Melon, Chinese Okra, Chinese Long Squash 

Indian Eggplant




Salmon Heads

Entire aisle of Soy and Fish Sauce

Dried Mushrooms