Monday, October 23, 2017

What's Wrong With Working Dogs as Pets?

A commercial breeder of Jack Russell terriers for pet buyers writes to ask a question.

She says she is very sincere about breeding for health and that she tries to get her hands on as much information as she can, and tests her dogs "for everything available."

She goes on to note that "Temperament is important too... this is what means the most to me."

She writes that she saw a TV segment (ABC's Nightline) in which I said that if people want to breed dogs that don't work, that's fine, but at least they should be breeding healthy dogs.

But she's a bit puzzled.

She always had the impression that I disliked the breeding of "working dogs" for the pet trade.

From her end of the stick, however, it has always seemed to her that in this day and age most dogs are not wanted for work, and most dogs are merely companions.

She concludes:

"I love the JRT and everything about them. And my passion is to genuinely breed proper dogs and skillfully match them up with families. I try to take what I know and apply it to raising nice family terriers. I just do not believe I should be ashamed for breeding them for pets and breeding them as best I know how. Do you have any thoughts for me on what I can and should be doing better?"

A genuine question: What do you need to do to breed a healthy dog? And if a breeder is producing physically healthy dogs, isn't that enough?

Here is my answer ....

There are two aspects to health:

  1. Physical health
  2. Mental health

I will not go into physical health. I have written a lot about that in the past, and there is a search engine on this blog.

That said, I have not talked too much about mental health, and it is the brain that is the most important part of the dog, especially the working dog.

To begin with, let me say that I want all dogs to be self-actualized.

Self-actualized? What do I mean by this?

Simple. I want the dog to live up to its full potential, to be in harmony with its place and circumstances, and to to be free of self-loathing, fear, and long-term psychological conflict.

Step One on this road is to make sure the dog is properly socialized. How do you do this?

Well, look at the word -- there's a hint there.


No dog can be properly socialized without being in society at least a few hours a day, especially during the first 9 months of its life.

What this means is that good breeders do not have 50 breeding dogs in their kennels because they know they cannot properly socialize the progeny of 50-dogs, even if they can feed and water them and keep the kennel clean.

Step Two involves respecting the code that is within the breed.

This is where so many pet breeders -- and buyers -- fall down.

You see, what makes a working dog is not the color of its coat, the lay of its tail, or the shape of its head -- it's the frantic morse-code of stimulus and impulse that is firing off within the dog.

A border collie is not a border collie because of the way it looks, but because of that code.

This is elementary. It is fundamental. It is basic.

The code inside a working collie is different from that inside a working pointer or setter, and it is different from that inside of a working terrier.

A scent hound and a sight hound are not just different looking -- the code inside them is different too.

What does this mean for dog breeders and dog owners?

It means that a dog that has been bred for generations to point birds in tall grass and brush should not be placed in a world of parking lots and city streets far from forest and field.

It means that a working terrier should not be placed in a home with a hamster running endlessly on a tread mill and a caged parrot that squaks and flaps its wings in an inviting manner.

It means that the code inside every working breed of dog should be acknowledged, respected and valued for what it is.

And yet, how many breeders of working dogs are doing this?

By definition, none that are breeding solely for pet homes.

And in that disconnect is a lot of canine misery.

The code inside herding dogs like the Border Collie, the Sheltie, and the Corgi tells them to "gather up the herd" and keep outsiders at bay.

The code inside the Jack Russell tells them to kill the hamster, bark at all squirrels, dig up the yard, and kill the cat which looks and acts amazingly like a red fox.

And yet if these dogs obey these instincts, they get into trouble!

Yet if they ignore these instincts, they are repressing everything they are, and are ever meant to be.

For the dog, it is a lose-lose situation.

The result is predictable: Boat loads of Border Collies, Corgis and Shelties with free-floating anxiety. Flotillas of Jack Russell terriers waiting in rescue for anyone to give them a good home.

Yes, surrogate work can be found for Border Collies and Jack Russell terriers.

I have known collie owners to buy ducks and chickens for their dogs to herd, and for terrier owners to keep pet rats in their garage for their dogs to chase in go-to-ground tunnels buried in the back yard.

More commonly, working terrier and collie owners turn to fly-ball, frisbee and agility to bleed off the steam building up inside their dogs.

There is nothing wrong with fly-ball, frisbee or agility. Excellent stuff and good for the dogs. But let's be honest here, eh? Any dog can do these activities.

What makes a border collie special is not frisbee or flyball -- it is what happens when sheep, cattle, or goats, or ducks are turned loose for them to herd.

What makes a working terrier special is not that it will retrieve a ball -- it is what happens in the field, at the hole, when fomiddable quarry is found at the other end of the pipe.

I am not against dog companion dogs, but if folks are looking for a companion dog, then get a companion dog!


There are scores of breeds, and millions of mixed breeds, suitable for no other purpose than companionship.

Get one of those. I will not object.

What I do object to is getting a highly charged hunting dog or herding dog and then expecting it to be something else.

That's going to be about as successful as a bridesmaid going to Gay Pride Day in order to find the Man of Her Dreams.

"They are all so handsome," she thinks, "and I KNOW I can convert one of them to my side, if only I love him enough."


That's a program for misery
, isn't it?

And yet that happens all the time in the world of dogs (and humans too from what I can gather from reading the tabloids) .

Bottom line: It's important for us to accept dogs for what they are.

They are not surrogate children (see this post on that point), nor are they inanimate objects -- mere property.

They are sentient beings, and we have a duty to them. That duty is not simply take care of their bodies while ignoring their minds.

And to repeat and undescore the core point of this piece: The minds of all dogs are not alike.

It's important for us to accept that different breeds of dogs come with different genetic codes, and that those genetic codes deserve to be unleashed.

In short, the duty to dogs is not just to make sure dogs have physical health, but to make sure that they have mental health as well.

In order to be able to deliver on that, we need to accept each breed of dog for what it is, and to not try to change it.

Try not to change it.

This last point is fundamental.

It is about RESPECT.

You cannot tell me you respect America in one breath, and then tell me you want America to give up all its values and history and cultural ideosyncracies in the next.

You cannot tell me you respect Gay people in one breath, and then tell me you want to make them all Straight in the next.

And you cannot tell me that you respect Jack Russell Terriers or Border Collies in one breath, but that you want to breed out everything that is their essence and reason for being on earth.

To Hell with that.

That's where I come from.

That's where I stand.

And that's how I identify my duty to the dogs.

  • Related Links:
** Bad Dog Talk from the JRTCA
** Robert Bakewell's Apartment
** The Real Jack Russell Terrier: A Complete History
** Ten Reasons to Join the JRTCA
** Bad Dog: An Article for Prospective Terrier Owners
** A Question of Breed
** The Transvestite Terriers of Westminster
** Canine Achondroplastic Dwarves
** No, You May Not Pet My Dog


Moxie Found a Dog House

Drive Like Life Depends On It

Three dead deer and five dead raccoons on the road yesterday morning reminded me of Kipling’s poem about the true “blood sport” of the modern era.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Skunks: When You May Need to Breathe for Two

For all the discussion and advice written about terriers skunked underground, it's odd that almost no one talks about the most common emergency, and how to address it.

That problem is lack of oxygen.

This is not a small point. Despite what has been written, most underground skunk sprayings do not end in tragedy -- they end in stink. The ones that end in tragedy most often end in immediate respiratory failure.

First, a little background. If a dog is skunked underground, most dogs will manage to get out of the hole on their own, and most will do fine afterwards.

Only a small percentage of dogs that are skunked underground express evidence of skunk toxic shock two or three days after the event. These dogs are animals whose kidneys are having trouble pushing the toxin out of their system, and there is some indication that this problem has a genetic component, as it seems to run in some terrier lines.

An underground skunking is a serious thing. But -- and this point is too rarely made -- if your dog dies, it's most likely to die either underground or right at the hole.

What you do immediately at the hole, then, is pretty important. And yet, on this issue, there is too often silence.

A Quick Review: Most skunked dogs die because the dog cannot get out of the hole quick enough and the dog is overwhelmed by skunk spray.

Skunk spray is pretty toxic stuff, as it contains a mixture of thioacetates and thiols (the stuff that stinks), mercaptans, and almost pure sulphuric acid (the stuff that will burns a dog's eyes and leave blisters on its snout).

If your dog is able to exit the ground quickly and on its own, you are likely to be in good shape. Skunk spray does not kill except underground, and though a dog may get chemical burning of the outer layers of the cornea, application of Mycitracin eye ointment, a running dose of antibiotics like cephalexin, and a week's rest away from the other dogs, will probably put everything right.

No dog has ever been rendered permanently blind by skunk spray alone, and all a vet will do is stain the eye a lot and bill you for the trouble. Staining a cornea does not promote healing -- it generally delays it. If you focus on preventing infection, the eye will take care of itself.

If your dog is pulled limp from the ground, and it is not breathing, your problems are very serious, and immediate action is required. What has happened is obvious -- your dog has succumbed to the skunk fumes and passed out. In fact, the dog may have more than passed out -- it may have suffocated due to the lack of oxygen in the sette.

If your dogs has passed out, or if it has suffocated and stopped breathing, you need to administer immediate mouth-to-snout artificial respiration.

Here are the basic steps:
  • Put the dog on its side on the ground, or cradle it in your arms, making sure the neck is straight and there is nothing in the mouth or throat obstructing breathing.
  • Close the dog's mouth entirely, with your thumb and top fingers holding the snout LIKE A BEER CAN.
  • Put your entire mouth over the NOSE of the dog, and puff a short breath into your dog's nose through its nostrils. Remember your dog is small -- you are not trying to blow up a hot water bottle, you are trying to get air into its lungs.
  • Blow air into the dog's nose four or five times, and then release the snout and massage the chest at the point where the front elbows of the dog normally rest against its body. A terrier's chest should compress about a half inch (i.e. about half the width of your thumb).
  • Continue to do mouth-to-nose artificial respiration on your dog at a rate of one breath every 3 or 4 seconds (about 15-20 breaths per minute), and do a chest massage/compression between every third or four breath.
  • Continue doing mouth-to-snout artificial respiration for at least 20 minutes past when the dog stopped breathing.
  • If the dog starts to breathe on its own, and begins to rally, stop -- a dog coming up out of a fog or comma may be very disoriented and bite, especially if it cannot see well.

If your dog begins to breath on its own, that's obviously a pretty good sign. If the dog is able to stand, let it do so. It may vomit, and if it does so, that is not a bad thing. If the dog starts to roll around on the ground to get the stink off of it, count yourself lucky.

You are not in the clear yet, however. Stake your dog far from the hole and in a comfortable location. Your goal right now should be to get the dog fully hydrated and urinating. The reason for this is simple -- skunk toxin is most easily expressed through the kidneys, and the more water you can get into the dog's system, the more the dog will pee and the less likely the kidneys are to shut down.

If your dog is alert and resistant (a good sign), but not interesting in drinking water, try to pour a slug or two of water down its throat. If you have an eyewash bottle with you in the field (and you should), use this to jet water down the dog's throat. Go slow -- but load up the dog with as much water as you can.

Every 10 minutes, check the color of your dog's gums. If the gums are getting pale or white, that's a very bad sign -- it means your dog is growing rapidly anemic as the skunk toxin chelates and explodes the dog's red blood cells (i.e. Heinz body anemia). You need to get the dog to a vet quickly. There are a limited number of things a vet can do, but here is the general protocol:

  • The dog needs to be fully hydrated. That means a simple IV with a bag of lactated ringers solution. Putting an IV on a dog is not difficult -- a hydrating IV can be administered subcutaneous and in the field. In fact, having a lactated ringers kit with you in the field is probably a good idea if you dig a lot (gotta order one!).
  • Mucomyst (the same medication used to treat cats for Tylenol overdose) will help clear toxins from the dog’s system.
  • An oxygen tent may be needed in extreme cases.

A final note: most veterinarians know nothing about skunks, skunk toxic shock or bite wounds. What this means is that if you are working your terriers a lot, both you and your dogs will be better off if you learn to do basic veterinary care yourself.

In your vehicle, you should have a well-thought out veterinary box with antibiotics and VetBond (or SuperGlue), ProvIodine, triple-antibiotic ointment, a space blanket, a large irrigation syringe, an extra gallon of distilled water, a razor blade for trimming away fur, a canine nail cutter, gauze, tape, Mycitracin eye ointment, benadryl (for yellowjacket and copperhead snake bites), and a muzzle. My vet kit also includes a hypodermic set, a Percocet-5 (with dosage notes), a rectal thermometer (added after a black widow Spider run-in), a veterinary stapler, quick stop styptic powder, and a small bottle of epinephrine (with dosage notes). In the field I always have several small squirt bottles with distilled water in them -- useful to wash out an eye, irrigate a wound, or administer oral hydration to a skunked dog.

Working a terrier is not risk-free for the dog. Of course, neither is the drive to the farm or a dog show. All things have risks. That said, your job -- as owner -- is to reduce those risks as much as possible. That means having a pretty complete vet box with you in the field as well as a credit card, a cell phone, and the number of a near-by vet.

Above all, however, it means reading, researching and committing to memory some basic knowledge to avoid mistakes. One of those bits of basic knowledge is how to administer canine respiratory assistance.

As for getting rid of skunk stink, well good luck with that!  Skunk stink lasts and lasts because the thioacetates in skunk spray break down into stinky thiols over time, resulting in the stink coming back, especially after the dog gets wet. The thiols can only be eliminated by repeated application of a soap-and-oxygenater combination, such as peroxide and hand soap. No matter what you do, the stink will be with you for 30 days.

For more information on skunk spray odor remedies (and a little more information on toxic-shock syndrome in terriers), see >>

Jocelyn Lucas on the Dangers of Skunks

Of particular interest to readers of this blog are Jocelyn Lucas's notes about working terriers in America:

A fox went to ground, and a terrier called 'Scamp" was put in, and they heard him working. Suddenly a strong smell of skunk came from the hole, and all sound ceased. They dug down and came upon the dog -- dead, while a foot beyond was the fox, also dead. Behind him the skunk - alive. Both fox and terrier had been suffocated by the skunk fumes. The dens in this country are mostly enlarged woodchuck holes. The earths are sometime rocky, sometimes in clay, sometimes in sand. Drains are never used as regular earths.

Well he got that right! Here in the U.S. our holes are tight, and we generally do not have to work drains.

As for the fox, it is hardly the most dangerous thing to be found underground in the country.

Along with the rare rattlesnake, copperhead, and black widow spider, we have skunks. In fact, more working terriers in America die from skunk fumes than anything else.

Suffocation is only part of the issue; unadulterated skunk spray itself is toxic when breathed in large amounts underground. The result is "skunk toxic shock syndrome" in which the red blood cells of the dog exploded, causing Heinz Body Anemia.

Skunk Toxic Shock is an emergency problem unique to working terriers; it does not occur if a dog is simply sprayed above ground. For more information, click here and here and here.

Why Does Skunk Stink Last and Last?

The stuff in skunk spray that stinks is a series of odorous compounds called thiols. Bonded sulfur and hydrogen atoms in thiols attach to the same nose receptors that sniff out hydrogen sulfide ("swamp gas"). Human noses are highly sensitive to thiols and can detect the smell at just 10 parts per billion.

Skunk spray also contains compounds called thioacetates, which slowly break down into thiols. When a skunk sprays a terrier, thioacetates in the spray (and absorbed into the skin of the terrier) break down and replace the old thiols, resulting in the skunk odor reappearing on the dog.

Water seems to rapidly speed the process of thioacetates breaking down into thiols, but part of the release seems to be time-sensitive. Getting a dog wet repeatedly over several days will not "drain off" all the thioacetates.

No matter what you do, it will take about a month or even 6 weeks before skunk odor disappears off a well-dosed dog.

For more information on skunk spray odor remedies and toxic-shock syndrome in terriers sprayed by skunks underground, see >>

Friday, October 20, 2017

Dogs: A Breeder’s Sales Video

Breeding matters, but for most pet puppies it does not matter nearly as much as some folks think. What matters more is the training and commitment that you, the human, bring to the table.

Eagle Eats Cat on Downtown Virginia Sidewalk

A bald eagle was spotted eating a black cat on a downtown Norfolk, Virginia sidewalk. Video here.

Coffee and Provocation

Fake Service Dogs
19 states are cracking down on fake service dogs. I have written about the problem before, and the people who promote them who are now engaged in other scams.

Dog Fail: They're Not as Cooperative as Wolves
Humans and dogs are both social pack predators with a long history of working together, so you would think they would be better at cooperation than wolves, but you would be wrong. It turns out wolves are much better at cooperation than dogs, at least when it comes to cooperating with each another.

Professional Sport Dogs on Dope
Iditarod race dogs have test positive for opioids race officials say. The still as yet unnamed musher denies he gave his dogs Tramadol. His dogs finished in the top 20.

New Wings
Helen Macdonald is training a new bird, and BBC is there to film it.

Big Bird
Audubon magazine has a nice profile on Mother of Dragons Big Bird, Lauren McGough.  Nice job Audubon!

Broken Risk Assessment
The US spends more than $500 million per victim on anti-terrorism efforts. However, cancer research spending is only $10,000 per victim.

Ikea for Pets?
Ikea is now making dog and cat furniture.

Dirty Birds
Soot preserved on the feathers of museum birds is providing a window into the levels and types of urban air pollution that existed over the last 135 years.

Sweden Subsidizes Electric Bicycles
Sweden is offering a 25% subsidy for electric bike purchases. France already has a €200 electric bike subsidy, and Oslo, Norway has a $1,200 subsidy for electric cargo bike purchases. Genius!

We'll Always Have Detroit?
Paris plans to eliminate all gas-powered vehicle sales by 2030, and France aims to ban all gas and diesel gas-powered cars by 2040.  Meanwhile 59,000 plug-in cars were sold in China last month.

The End of Insects?
In Germany, insect populations have declined by 75% over the last 30 years.

Lorem Ipsum Is So 20th Century
Lorem Ipsum is the not-really-meaningless dummy text used by designers when they need to "greek" some type into a template as a place-holder.  Now we have other options:  randomly generated Bob Ross catchphrases, William Gibson cutups, Commander Riker dialogue, and Khaled Ipsum which strips in the soothing nonsensical utterances of DJ Khaled.

Buy a cup, save a pup.

Fish On Friday

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Wolf in the Living Room

The Internet Meme, at top, is a joke, but there's an interesting story behind it.

It seems back in 2014, an 8-year old girl in Wisconsin had a wild-caught coyote as a pet.

The coyote, acquired as a very small pup after a hunter shot its mother, lives in a pen on the farm and it dens underground, but it is in and out of the house frequently enough that has adapted to life as a kind of dog, sitting by the fire in the winter, going for walks on a leash, sitting on the couch, and even playing fetch with a tennis ball.

Winter Is Coming

I live in Virginia, in an area where snows last a week or two at most, and December, January and February highs are typically in the mid 40s.

My dogs sleep inside at night, wear good coats when outside on bitter cold days, and have three kennel boxes in two separate areas inside a relatively warm stone garage that is part of the house. Though the garage does not have its own radiators, heat seeps in from the house, and it does not leave too quickly.

A fourth dog house is made of stone, is foam-insulated inside, and also has a deep bed of hay inside. This dog house is large enough that three terriers could easily "nest up" inside the mound of hay, and the door is quite small and off to the side to keep out drafts. This dog house is now covered in ivy, and on its top is where I photograph a lot of red foxes who come to the yard at night (see above).  No, the fox do not den inside -- they are there for the food alone.

One kennel area inside the garage has free access to the outside yard (forested with stone paths and small pond) but does not allow unrestricted access to the inside of the garage where the dogs might get into mischief with paint and solvents and other stored items. The insulated kennel box in this location is large, and can easily fit three or four terriers.

The other kennel area inside the garage is a large pen with two doubled-walled dog houses inside individual wire crates. Between the double walls of the dog houses is thick insulated foam, and the box interiors themselves are deeply lined with a bed of clean hay. The door to each of the houses is small to keep in heat and keep out drafts.

This pen works well for when a dog comes into heat, when work men come to the house, or when company is being entertained and a dog leaping at the back door is an unnecessary distraction.  When it gets really cold out, and the snow is too deep for wee terriers to traverse, it's also a place where they can tuck into keep warm and wait for better weather.

I have dog heater pads as well, but with the double insulated boxes, these external heat sources appear to be too much. Nonetheless, they are there to plug in if it looks like they are ever needed.

I feed a little more in the winter, topping off their regular kibble with a little olive oil, a hard boiled egg, or a raw chicken wing.

When I come home after work, the dogs get TV time with me in the living room -- a good time to check them over for weight, to practice their down-stays, and to have them tongue-clean the top of my bald head.

Risk Analysis: You're Doing It Wrong

Dear Terrierman:

I have been looking for places to live and fell in love with Sudan after reading about the dashing exploits of Chinese Gordon.  It turns out that land in Sudan is cheap, and the pictures I found in a 1960 copy of National Geographic are quite lovely!

So the stone is cast and my lovely 16-year old blond daughter and I are going to Sudan for the next 7 years. We are fundamentalist Christians who wear giant Jesus crosses around our neck all the time, and we do not believe in antibiotics, but I do not see how that could be a problem.

I have looked into the health risks of contraception for 16-year old girls and have noticed that estrogen birth control increases the chance of cancer after age 50, IUDs may cause increased menstrual bleeding or even result in infection, and condoms break routinely, so we will not be taking any form of contraception with us at all in order to minimize the health dangers. My daughter is a Good Girl, so I am sure everything will be fine because I trust in the Lord.

Here's my question:  do they use insecticides on vegetables in the Sudan? Because if they do, I will have to eat only American-made canned food in order to stay healthy.
Please advise.

If this letter sounds daft to you, please be advised that this is exactly how most pet dog owners sound to me.

Wanting a dog for nothing but companionship, they select it out of an all-breed book that features a colorful story and leaves off any real information about temperament and health.

Then, having acquired the dog, they expect the dog to adapt to their concerns rather than adapt their life to the concerns and needs of the dog. If the dog has "an attitude" about that, it will be entirely the dog's fault! The dog may have to be put down. 

People who never took a chemistry or biology course in high school or college, and who have math skills so weak they cannot figure out a 15% tip at the Waffle House, deem themselves capable of making good decisions based on a short article they read in Redbook magazine or a study they skimmed that someone linked to in a Facebook post.

Antibiotics are over-used you say? Well then, let's use less of them or none of them!

Contraception is not 100-perfect or entirely risk-free? Then let's jettison that too!

And if something is not labeled natural, holistic, or homeopathic then we really must clang the alarm bells and go ape-shit hysterical!  Please God, don't tell me you are vaccinating your children too?!  Do you know how dangerous that is?

This kind of thinking comes to a head in the arena of canine spay-neuter, where people rush out to buy cancer-bomb breeds with famous track records for hip dysplasia, and then -- presto change-o -- these same people are now instant experts evincing deep concern that early spay or neutering might increase health risks.

It's hysterical. 

It's like a fat girl eating fried chicken and smoking a cigarette while she explains the dangers of coffee consumption. 

It's like a guy with a facial tattoo explaining how to dress for success. 

It's like bringing your blond daughter to the Sudan without antibiotics or birth control and then worrying about DDT on the iceberg lettuce.

If you are doing any of this, you might have missed the plot!

Ditto, if you have bought a Kennel Club dog and are worried about early spay-neuter. 

I am sorry, but you proved your ignorance about dogs the day you bought a lap dog puppy which had an 85 percent chance of having heart disease and a 30 percent chance of having a brain disorder.

When it comes to canine health, now and into the future, please drink a big hot cup of shut-the-fuck up unless you are warning people away from Kennel club dogs.

And yes, this same point goes for the person who buys a purebred pet puppy that has a 55% chance of dying of cancer and a 30% chance of getting hip dysplasia. 

It goes for the people that buy English bulldogs, Dogues, Deerhounds, Golden Retrievers, Scotties, and... well, just about any Kennel Club breed. 

Listen up people; the evidence is in:  Kennel Club dogs are not as healthy as the dogs to be found down at the pound.  If you do not know this by now, then I have a Yugo sports car to sell you.  Very rare!

Back to spay-neuter.

The plot with spay-neuter is pretty simple: every month that goes by after the age of 6 months without a spay-neuter being done increases the lifetime chance that it will never be done.  It also increases the chance of accidental pregnancy or insemination and another litter of "whoops-how-did-that-happen" puppies tossed into the world without planning, and without a ready market looking to care for them after they are no longer cute puppies.  The results are millions of dead dogs every year down at the pound.

Of course, every pet owner claims they will watch their dog like a hawk and it will never get out of the yard or be off-leash anywhere at any time. 


Statistics prove that routine promise to be a routine failure, at least in the U.S.

And how many dogs get mated straight through the kennel wire?  The number is not zero!

Yes,  I know you want to think of yourself as a wonderful and infallible owner 100% of the time, same as every parent who thinks they will always be 100% attentive to their 16-year daughter who would never have sex before marriage at age 28 to a young man, age 30, of whom they have previously voiced approval after perusing his mental, dental, and banking records.

And, NO, of course alcohol, hormones and rape do not exist.  You will watch her like a hawk! Good thinking there!  Hope that works out for you... in the Sudan!

No doubt you can see the stupid when it comes to a 16-year old girl.

But now think of this:  the known, predictable and quantifiable result of delayed spay-neuter for dogs is the same known, predictable and quantifiable result of not making contraception choices available to very young teenage girls:  unintended pregnancies.

Biology is biology and people are people. 

You may intend to spay your bitch just before her first cycle at 6 months, but then she "cycled early," so you had to wait until that was over.... and then there was no rush until the next heat, and then you lost your job and did not have the money, and then ... whoops ... puppies to sell!  All quiet accidental, and all as common as a road-side hawk.

Today, young girls tend to get abortions, but puppies tend to get born and they also tend to end up either dead in pounds or living miserable lives chained in yards, hammered into crates all day long while their owners are at work, or else living anxious lives with people unprepared for the responsibilities and obligations that come from dog ownership.


Of course, you will never see mention of this on the silly and poorly documented studies about very early spay-neuter that are tossed around on the Internet.

Dead puppies at the pound? No mention of them at all!

Yes, that's right; they have used the one number they (and everyone else) knows is wrong.

They have left off the most OBVIOUS outcome of delayed spay-neuter.

What else?

Well they have also left out the fact that cancer and dysplasia are very breed-specific problems.

Anyone who wants to avoid these problems might start by staying away from Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and about two dozen other breeds.

Any mention at all about that in these papers?  Nope.  Dead silence.

Also, no mention of the many breeds that rarely get cancer or dysplasia.  You want a healthy dog? 

What else?

Well, did you notice how low the counts are in these studies and did you notice that there is no mention of how many kennels were actually used when assembling the breed pool?

This is not a small thing, as dog researchers often gather breed data seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are skewing their data wildly by having multiple dogs from the same litter, the same kennel, and the same line. When canine researchers gather data, they tend to get it from volunteer owners or vets who volunteer all their dogs going back a generation or two. But since so many of those dogs share a common gene pool, the result is a very strong genetic bias that makes false causality a norm rather than the exception.

The bottom line:  do whatever the hell you want.  If you want to play Russian Roulette with your daughter, go right ahead. If you want to buy a Kennel Club dog, go right ahead.  If you want so spay-neuter or not, that choice is yours.

That said, for those who who are not idiots, might I suggest a few rules of thumb:

  • Do not take tax advice from a bankrupt
  • Do not take take relationship advice from someone on their fourth marriage
  • Do not take human health advice from a fat, alcoholic, smoker.
  • Do not take canine health advice from anyone who owns a Kennel Club dog.

As for "studies," before you start saluting them, be sure to look for the missing data and the obvious bias.

And if I might be so bold to note that you are likely to have a long life in an increasingly complex world, might I suggest reading a very basic book on statistics so that you understand the difference between rates and ratios, correlation and causality, and true multi-variant analysis versus its look-alike, GiGo (garbage in - garbage out)?  A day's worth of study may give you a lifetime of insight.  That's a pretty great return on investment!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Darwin on Paired Genes

Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Chapter I:

Some instances of correlation are quite whimsical; thus cats with blue eyes are invariably deaf; colour and constitutional peculiarities go together, of which many remarkable cases could be given amongst animals and plants. From the facts collected by Heusinger, it appears that white sheep and pigs are differently affected from coloured individuals by certain vegetable poisons. Hairless dogs have imperfect teeth; long-haired and coarse-haired animals are apt to have, as is asserted, long or many horns; pigeons with feathered feet have skin between their outer toes; pigeons with short beaks have small feet, and those with long beaks large feet. Hence, if man goes on selecting, and thus augmenting, any peculiarity, he will almost certainly unconsciously modify other parts of the structure, owing to the mysterious laws of the correlation of growth.

Gorring's Raccoons

A repost from January 2006

The Monterey Herald reports on Germany's "Unwanted Raccoon Harvest":

California has had its revenge on Germany, the source of wild boars that were stocked to provide game for hunters and have since overrun the state, plowing up fields, gobbling plants and animals, and endangering endangered species.

Germany has raccoons. Lots of them, according to the Times of London. Some studies put the estimate at a million.

Times reporter Roger Boyes reported last week that "Vineyard owners across Germany are hiring bounty hunters to kill furry animals with a taste for grapes.

"Hunters are being hired to prevent a plague of raccoons with Nazi-era ancestry from munching their way through the German wine harvest."

The German wine-growing region of Kassel has become "the raccoon capital of Europe ever since Baron Sittich Von Berlerpsch released two of the animals into the wild in February 1934.

"The move was encouraged by Hermann Goering," he wrote, "the Nazi leader who, apart from being the head of Hitler's air force, was the chief forester of the Third Reich."

The first raccoons were brought from North America in the 19th century, Boyes reported, and their population grew by leaps and bounds when an Allied bomb hit a raccoon farm in 1945, scattering the animals.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Spread of Tanukis (Raccoon Dogs)

The Tanuki or Raccoon Dog is an interesting animal that is hunted with terriers in Finland and, increasingly, in other European countries as well.

Originally from Japan and China, this 13-22-pound animal has migrated through Russia and into Finland (where it was imported for fur and sport), and is now found as far west as France. While some sources claim this animal was once hunted to near extinction in Japan, numbers there seem to have rebounded with a vengeance (if in fact they were ever low), as road impacts now are estimated to be in the range of 110,000 - 370,000 a year.

The secret to the Tanuki's success seems to be that it occupies an ecological niche that was heretofore unoccupied in Europe. The red fox specializes on small mammals (mice and voles), the raccoon dog on plant material (berries and seeds) and the badger on invertebrates (worms, snails and beetle grubs).

Though primarily a plant eater, the Tanuki is an opportunistic omnivore that will eat just about anything if given a chance, and is willing to live in a wide variety of homes, including old fox, badger and rabbit dens -- as well as under sheds, and in locations very near human residences.

Unlike the Raccoon, the Tanuki is a true canid ( Canus Nyctereutes procyonoides). The "procyonoides" species name is a tip of the hat to the genus name of the North American Raccoon, Procyon.

Where the Tanuki differs from other canids. is that it is fairly slow, and has a jaw structure that is too weak to take down larger prey. Like the raccoon, Tanuki will scavenge baby birds from nests and might catch an occasional mouse, but their weak carnassials and well developed molars mean they have a diet heavy in plant matter supplanted by eggs, lizards, roadkill, frogs, mice, insects and human refuse.

Like Fox, Raccoon, Possum, and Groundhog, the average Tanuki has a short life span, rarely living past three years in the wild.

Of course, as with any successful species with a short life span, reproduction rates are high. The average Tanuki litter is 5 to 9 pups born in a ground burrow after a gestation period of about 60 days.

The raccoon dog carries the highest average litter weight of any canid, with the mean weight of a litter being 24% of the weight of the female. Males stick around and help raise the young -- a good thing since the female Tanuki is no doubt exhausted from carrying her load!

Home ranges for a Tanuki are quite large (10-20 sq kilometres) and overlap, reflecting the seasonal nature of food sources. As food in one area declines, the Tanuki waddles off to another area where the berries, insects or seeds are in greater supply.

Monday, October 16, 2017

John's Lennon's Patterdale

John Lennon, Cynthia Lennon, Julian Lennon, and Nigel. No breeding information on Nigel, but clearly a Patterdale-type.

Burt Ward, the Boy Wonder, Makes Dog Food?

Burt Ward, who played Robin the Boy Wonder in the Batman TV show of the 1960s, and who authored Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights, makes dog food and does canine rescue.

This is "lick and stick" dog food manufacturing, with the stuff being cobbled up at the Sioux City, Iowa plant run by the Consumers Supply Distributing company which makes 36 other brands of pet food.

Burt Ward's dog food is called "Gentle Giants" and it is touted as an "all-natural" dog food "created to prolong the lifespan of the four-legged creatures it’s fed to."

Of course, if you are truly interested in prolonging the lifespan of dogs, the best advice is to be an advocate for cross-breeding, to stay away from giant breeds altogether, and to feed your dog less of any dog food in order to avoid obesity.

Ward has made his dog food at the Sioux City, Iowa Consumers Supply Distributing company for a dozen years, but he never visited the facility until this month.

To Ward's credit, all profits from the dog food company are supposedly directed to rescue work for giant breeds.

To Ward’s detriment, there is a lot of evidence that Burt Ward is actually running a dog flipping and puppy mill operation. The reviews and site visit stories are alarming, the web site screams puppy mill and liar, and it seems to be only one step up from a hoarding operation.  Truly sad and alarming if that’s the case.

Burt Ward, gives a thumbs up to his kibble.

Maladaptive Pigeons at the Hand of Man

The Rock Dove or Rock Pigeon, from which all domestic pigeons derive.

Dogs are not the only animals that have been selected for function and dysfunction at the hand of man.

For more than a thousand years, pigeons have been bred to express an amazing amount of genetic variation, from beautiful to grotesque, and from whimsical to functional.

The litany of pigeon breeds is truly jaw-dropping and reflects a global fraternity of breeders.

There are Aachen Lacquer Shield Owl pigeons, Aachen Pouter pigeons, and Aargau Peak Crested pigeons.

There is the Absy Egyptian Swift, the Afghan Sherazi, African Owl pigeon, Agaran Boinije, Ahmar Gohzar, Alpine Swift, Altenburger Trumpeter, American Bohemian Pouter, American Flying Baldhead, American Flying Flight, American Flying Tumbler, American Giant Homer, American Giant Rumbler, and the American Giant Runt (love that name!).

We have the Anatolian Ringbeater, the American Strasser, Anbary Asmar Egyptian Swift, Ancient Tumbler, Antwerp Pigeon, Antwerp Smerle, Arabian Trumpeter, Arad Barred Highflier, Archangel, Armenian Tumbler, and Asiatic Crack Tumbler.

We have Australian Saddleback Tumbler, the Barb, Bavarian Pouter, Beak-Crested Jacobin, Belgian Ringbeater, and the Berlin Medium Face Tumbler (which also comes in Long Face and Short Face varieties).

We have the Bernburg pigeon, the Berne Half Beak, Berne Peak Crested, Bernhardin Magpie, Birmingham Roller, and the Blondinette.

We have the Blue Tumbler of Cluj, Bohemian Pouter, the Bohmentaub, the Bokhara Trumpeter, the Bolk Egyptian Swift, Boston Blue Tumbler, Bremen Tumbler, British Show Racer, and Brunner Pouter.

We have the Bucharest Ciung Highflier, the Bucharest Show Tumbler, the Buda Grizzle, Budapest Short Face Tumbler, and the Budapest Highflier (to say nothing of the Budapest Muffed Tumbler and Budapest Muffled Stork).

We have the Cassel Tumbler, the Catalonian Head and Neck Tumbler, the Central Asiatic Roller, Chinese Nasal Tuft, Chinese Owl, Clean Legged Fullhead, Clean Legged Spot Swallow, Coburg Lark, Colillano Pouter and Cologne Tumbler.

We have the Czech Ice Pouter, Czech Muffed Tumbler, Czech Trumpeter, the Dragoon, and the Damascene.

We have the Danish Suabian, Danish Tumbler, the Danzig Highflyer, the Escompadissa Tumbler, the Dewlap, the Donek, the Double Crested Priest, the Duchess, the Egyptian Swift, the Eichbuhl, the Elster Pouter, and the Elster Purzler, to say nothing of the English Carrier, English Fantail, English Longface Muff Tumbler, English Magpie, and English Owl.

We have the Exhibition Flying Tippler, the Fat Shan Blue, Felegyhazer Tumbler, and the Fish Eye Roller.

We have the Florentine pigeon, Flying Oriental Roller, Flying Saddle Homer, Flying Tippler, Fork-Tailed pigeon, Franconian Heart Magpie, Franconian Toy Self, and the Franconian Velvet Shield, to say nothing of the French Bagdad, French Mondain, Frillback, Gaditano Pouter, Galaţi roller, German Beak-Crested, the German Modena, German Nun, and German Shield Owl.

We have the Ghent Cropper, Giant American Crest, Giant Mallorquina Runt, Giant Show Runt, the Gier pigeon, the Gorguero Pouter, Groninger Slenke, the Hamburg Sticken, Hana Pouter, Hanover Tumbler, Helmet pigeon, Hindi Fantail, Hollander pigeon, Hungarian Buga Pigeon, the Hungarian Giant House Pigeon, Hungarian Giant Pouter, and the Hungarian Short.

We have the Huppé Picard, the Hyacinth pigeon, Ice pigeon, Indian Fantail, Indian Gola, Indian Mondain, Iran Roller, Italian Owl Jacobin, and the Jiennense Pouterm as well as the Indian Fantasy pigeon (love that name!),

There is the Kaluga Turmani pigeon, the Karakand Fantail, Karakandy Egyptian Swift, Kazan Tumbler, Kelebek, Kiev Tumbler, King pigeon, Kiskunfelegyhaza Tumbler, Kojook Egyptian Swift, Konigsberg Moorhead, Lucerne Gold Collar, and the Lebanon pigeon.

There is the Lucerne Gold Collar, the black Magpie, Macedonian Turbit, Majorcan Bort Runt, Maltese pigeon, Mariola pigeon, Martham pigeon, and the Memel Highflier.

We have the Mesawed Egyptian Swift, Micholaiyvski Shield Tumbler, Miniature American Crested, Mookee, Montauben, Moravian White Head, Moscat, Moscovite Tumbler, Moulter, New York Danish Flying Tumbler, Norwegian Tumbler, Norwich Cropper, and the Novi Sad Short Face Tumbler (what a name!).

We have the Nun pigeon, Nuremberg Lark, Old Dutch Capuchine, Old Fashioned Oriental Frill, Old German Cropper, Old German Owl, Ostrava Bagdad, Pakistani Highflier, Parlor Roller, Pheasant Pigeon, and the Ukrainian Skycutter (love that name!).

We have the Pomeranian Show Crest, Posen Colored Head Tumbler, Poster pigeon, Prague Medium Face Tumbler, Oriental Frill, Quet Roller, Racing Homer, Rhine Ringbeater, Roller Pigeon, Romanian Argintiu Tumbler, Romanian Blind Tumbler, Romanian Blue Barred Whitetail, Romanian Naked-Neck Tumbler, Russian Martini, Saddle Homer, Saint Louis Arch Crested Fantail, Saxon Breast pigeon, Saxon Monk, Saxon Stork, and Silky Fantail.

We have the Single Crested Priest, South German Charcoal Lark, Spaniard pigeon, Spanish Flamenca Runt, Spanish Frillback Bagadette, Spanish Owl Pouter, and Spanish Thief Pouter.

We have the Sverdlovsk blue-gray mottle-headed pigeon, Swiss Crescent, Swiss Mondain, Syrian Bagdad, Syrian Coop Tumbler, Syrian Swift pigeon, Syrian Turbiteen, Texan Pioneer, Thai Fantail, Thai Laugher, Thuringian Breast Pigeon, Thuringian Spot, Thuringian Wingpigeon, Tiger Swallow, Tippler, and the Transylvanian Double-Crested Tumbler (love that name!).

We have the Ural Striped Maned pigeon, the Tung Koon Paak, Valencian Giant Tenant pigeon, Valencian Magany Homer, Vogtland pigeon, Volga Russian Tumbler, Warsaw Schmetterling, the West of England Tumbler and the Zurich White Tail.

And yes, this is just a partial list!

As I noted some years back
, there is a breed of pigeon called a "roller" where flocks go into a kind of synchronized neurological fit causing them to roll over and tumble in mid-air -- the kind of activity that tends to attract hawks. Talk about maladaptive!

In addition to rollers, there are racing or homing pigeons which look very much like natural rock doves (i.e. wild pigeons), but which may have a little more speed and slightly better orienteering skills.

Of course, as with dogs, many of these breeds are only slighty different variations from others of a very similar type, while others look suspiciously like odd-looking versions of the common feral form you might see in any city park, while still others look like diseased mutants.

But isn't that true of dog breeds as well?!

Some of the pigeons that have been crafted
by the hand of man are truely beautiful and fly very well, while others are bizarre looking and fly less successfully.

In the bizarre catagory is the Blue Pouter, pictured below, which is an ornamental breed with long legs, an extruded body, and an amazing inflatable crop.

There are quite a few types of Pouters, and the function of one type, the "Horseman" Pouter is to serve as a "thief" bird. It turns out that a swollen crop is a bit of a turn on to female pigeons, and so female pigeons can sometimes be seduced to follow the Horseman Pouter back to his coop.

Charles Darwin was quick to notice the amazing varieties of livestock being produced by breeders in his day, and he was especially attentive to chicken and pigeon breeders as he himself had first noticed wide variation from an intermediate type when observing finches on the Galapagos Islands.

When Darwin came back to Britain in 1836, he began to correspond with dog, chicken, sheep, cattle and pigeon breeders from around the world as he worked out his theories of speciation through natural selection.

In 1855, he built his own pigeon loft and began raising a wide variety of pigeons himself.

For the rest of that story I recommend a lengthy tour through the excellent web site, Darwin's Pigeons.

A final note: the beautiful pigeon illustrations shown here are the work of Gary Romig, and are for sale at his web site.

They are redone versions of illustrations which first appeared in Robert Fulton's The Illustrated Book of Pigeons, published in 1878. A companion volume, by Lewis Wright, was called The Illustrated Book of Poultry.

Straight Down the Pie Hole

Both are made in Vermont. For those who don't know, "whistlepig" is a colloquial term for a groundhog aka a woodchuck.

Cartoon Horses, and No One is Laughing

The Telegraph:

Extreme breeding practices have already left animals like French bulldogs and pugs struggling to breathe as their faces have become squashed over time to suit human demands.

But vets believe that the worrying practice is now happening in horses after a US stud farm offered an Arabian Colt for sale with an strange concave, or ‘dished’ profile.

Check out the shit show at Orrion Farms in Washington state.

Is it time to end Torture Breeding?  Would this qualify?

Dog Needs to Get Wormed

Might need a little more animal fat in its diet too.

Looking for a Way In

Robbie and the other dogs really wanted what was in the bunker of roots under this hollow tree. Not going to happen, but not for want of trying.

Game On

Moxie on a groundhog yesterday.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

JRTCA Nationals

Jack Russell Terrier Club of America nationals is the only show I go to. I attend one day, for a few hours, and then go hunting on Sunday. As always, I traveled incognito with bald cap, plastic nose, and novelty glasses.

The JRTCA works hard to threat the needle between work (first pole position, at least in theory) and show. I am not a fan of dog shows or most dog organizations, but I am a fan of the JRTCA; they try very hard to get it right with a lot of competing and conflicting agendas. Hats off to the no-doubt large and dedicated team that put this together and pull it off year after year. Not easy, and a thankless job for the most part.

The JRTCA national show has been held near Sharpsburg and Antietam Creek for the last few years -- a location where over 22,700 Americans died in a single day trying to put an end to slavery. I dig my own dogs not far from here on battle fields once drenched in human blood.

You can't have just one. This is a pretty normal stack of dogs peering out from a wagon at JRTCA Nationals.

Greg Mousley making three people happy. A lot of dogs on a long day and he still has a smile!

One of the several go to ground setups at JRTCA Nationals yesterday.

Lots of pretty dogs Enough working people and working dogs to make me keep coming back every year, at least for a few hours.

Those are two fine-looking working dogs owned by Ted Ely and bred by Char Smith. Not a great picture of either dog -- Ted was off somewhere and the dogs were talking smack to me. I have long admired Mac (Sumac) the dog on the left who is small with a lot of bone. His mother, Torch, is on the left and has always been a small solid dog with great looks, bone, and a small frame.

This is me spanning Torch a few years back. Note the complete finger overlap. Span means different things to different folks. This is what I am looking for if I can find it! I think shortly after this picture was taken, Torch was made the JRTCA's 30th Anniversary cover dog.